Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Knowledge of the patterns of exposure to pesticide of European agricultural workers and on the main factors affecting their variation

Risk assessment is a key activity in health promotion at the workplace: based on risk assessment it is possible to define priorities, to highlight unacceptable health risks and to decide when workers need health surveillance. In occupational exposures to chemicals, the key action of risk assessment is the definition of the dose absorbed by the workers. In agriculture this is done only in few cases, due to the sector specificities, which make difficult to define "typical" scenarios and to perform measures that are representative and reproducible. In the frame of EUROPIT project, data have been collected on the "real" way of working of the workers under study. This brings about the possibility of defining "exposure profiles" for the activities taken into account and to highlight the main variables able to affect exposure levels, with the support of biological monitoring data. This will enable risk assessment in the situation under study, as well as comparison among different countries and areas. Exposure profiles are a very promising tool addressed at risk assessment in agriculture. The activities addressed at the definition of such as profiles are being carried out at the local level, for example in the Region of Lombardy, when a significant part of the EUROPIT Italian study have been carried out.

The urinary ETU levels determined in control-unexposed subjects may be useful to estimate the reference value for the general population at a European level. The reference value is a useful tool for the interpretation of the biological monitoring data: in the absence of a biological limit value the reference value represents a necessary term of comparison to assess the presence or absence of occupational exposure.

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