Poisoning in Farmers

Poisoning in Farmers - If it were not the farmers, there wouldn't be enough food to satiate our hunger. In a big country like india with a huge population, farming is the leading source of livelihood.

Agriculture, with its associated and related  sectors, is the largest source of livelihoods in India. About 70 % of the  rural households in India depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82 % of the  farmers are  small and marginal.

poisoning in farmers

Despite being the most hardworking,  in both, manual and labour work, the farmers are exposed not only to the dangerous UV radiation of the sun but also the harsh chemicals and toxins present in the pesticides and insecticides.

One of the commonly used insecticide is Mevinphos which is also known as phosdrin. The  poisoning through insecticides and pesticides is one of the most dangerous occupational hazards.

Mevinphos is an organophosphate, a broad spectrum insecticide that acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor to control insects in a wide range of crops.

It alters and interferes the normal activity of the cholinesterase enzyme which is responsible for the  correct/efficient working of the nervous system in both the  arthropods and the humans.

It is most commonly used for the control of chewing and sucking insects,  like ; leafhopper ,cutworms, grasshopper, aphids, Caterpillar ,as well as spider mites. It is available in both solid and liquid forms.

It has a short term residual activity and dissipates quickly. It has been practically proven to be very effective even in very low dosage forms.

Despite it's many beneficial effects in crop yielding, phosdrin poisoning is not very uncommon. It is a miscible compound and easily dissolved in water and sprayed into crops.

Intoxication can occur not only by inhalation but also through direct absorption via skin, ingestion and every other route. It is extremely toxic, irrespective of the route it gets absorbed through.

The intoxication is very lethal and can cause severe damage. It has been proven to be fatal in an alarming number of cases.

The patient suffers from gastroenteritis, bradycardia ,nausea, unconsciousness, vomiting, fasciculations of eyelids and skin, blurred vision (due to pupillary constriction), and sweating ; therefore it affects the central nervous system cardiac system and the respiratory system. Death may be caused by respiratory failure or cardiac arrest.

The reaction caused by the toxin is rapid and may act in  as less as 15 minutes or maybe within 2 hours after exposure.

Exposure to the toxin may even occur via clothes contaminated with phosdrin. A person intoxicated may be exposed to sudden (acute large dose) or may have been exposed to it gradually in low doses leading to chronic or prolonged exposure. In both the cases, it results in extremely dangerous outcomes.

If the appropriate drug is not administered it can aggravate the condition of the patient and may further complicate the situation;  for example it can lead to seizures which can result in serious nerve damage if diazepam is not administered on time,  preferably 10 milligrams of diazepam is administered.

Treatment of poisoning is done by administration of Atropine alongwith resuscitation  and administration of oximes to reactivate AChE. Recombinant bacterial OP hydrolases have been clinically proven to be safe and effective against various organophosphates.

In some cases of the organophosphate poisoning, Parlidoxim may be  administered. The most effective advise is to maintain proper safety and taking all the protective measures against the toxins but sadly, the poor farmers do not have enough financial resources or knowledge.

The agriculture sector along with its farmers are undervalued more often than not, in spite of risking themselves every day to provide, food to the people. The government should provide better facilities and privileges for such people. The farmers should be reeducated about the hazards and threats they are exposed to.

Written by:
Anam Khan
BDS

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