Thousands of Thai people are poisoned by pesticides every year.
The information that is collected by the Ministry of Public Health shows that the number of reported cases of occupational poisoning was as follows:
|Year||Number of patients||Number of deaths|
These are the figures that are reported by hospitals and clinics. Each of these cases is a result of pesticide exposure at work, and does not include suicide attempts or accidents in the home.
Senior officials at the Ministry of Public Health admit that the real level of poisoning is much higher than shown by these figures because very few farmers go to hospital when they get sick, and many deaths occur without the cause being recorded (e.g. the doctor’s report states ‘heart failure’ but doesn’t mention what caused the heart to fail). A study conducted some years ago showed that only 2.4% of workers who suffer from pesticide poisoning go to a hospital, and that the real number of cases could be nearly 40,000 per year.
In a study carried out by the Department of Agriculture, symptoms of pesticide poisoning were detected in 68% of the vegetable farmers who were observed in Kanchanaburi. Another recent report suggests that over 90% of agricultural workers in Thailand are affected by pesticide and other agrochemicals. What this information shows is that poisoning is a normal occurrence among Thai farmers. They regularly suffer from headaches, dizziness, exhaustion, nausea and itchy skin as a result of pesticide use. These problems lead to sick leave and low quality work and hence decreased productivity.