Environmental pesticide illness and injury - The need for a national surveillance system
The potential impact of pesticides on public health is substantial. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) reports that more than one billion pounds of conventional active pesticide ingredients are used annually in the United States and that 69 million American households, or 85 percent of all families, store and use pesticides in and around the home. Poison control center reports and hospital-based data suggest that the impact of acute pesticide poisoning may be significant. In the absence of a national system for reporting nonoccupational pesticide-related illnesses, however, it is not possible to accurately estimate the public health impact of pesticide-related morbidity and mortality in the United States. In addition, surveillance is needed to provide information essential for the prevention and control of pesticide-related illness and injury. The National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) proposes to establish a national surveillance system to monitor pesticide-related health conditions resulting from nonoccupational pesticide exposures. As an initial step, NCEH and U.S. EPA are funding a pilot surveillance project to be tested in 1999. The test will be conducted in a state that already has an occupational pesticide-illness surveillance program; with the knowledge-base and infrastructure already in place, costs and start-up time will be reduced. NCEH and its state and federal partners recognize the need for a national program for surveillance of nonoccupational pesticide-related health effects; however, funding will remain a challenge to establishing an effective and ongoing national surveillance system.