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The role of organophosphate exposure in the aetiology of depression and suicidality amoungst farm workers on wine and table grape farms in the Worcester area of the Western Cape Province, South Africa

Includes bibliographical references. / Despite the obligatory requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993, Section 8(1)) that âevery employer shall provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of its employeesâ, farm workers in South Africa are exposed to numerous occupational health and safety hazards on a nearly daily basis. One of the many occupational hazards confronting farm workers is their exposure to pesticides, particularly organophosphates, which are potent neurotoxic chemicals used for pest control. Exposure to organophosphate pesticides (OPâs) is the cause of a significant number of acute and chronic poisonings amongst rural farm workers and residents in South Africa. While it is evident that the workers involved with the mixing and application of these agrichemical substances are at the greatest risk of exposure, others who are involved with general farm work are similarly at risk of exposure from spray drift and residue on crops, trees and leaves. An important association with the use of and exposure to pesticides is that of suicide in that OPâs are agents that are frequently used to commit suicide. However, being neurotoxins, it is known that OPâs have psychoactive effects and it is thought that long-term exposure to OPâs may be implicated in causing depression. Hence, exposure to OPâs has been postulated to result in suicidality amongst exposed farm workers perhaps through the pathway of depression, impulsivity, aggression or some combination of these factors. There are very few studies exploring this hypothesis to date. South Africa is the largest market for pesticide use in Sub-Saharan Africa and the grape farming sector is an intensive user of pesticides, particularly OP pesticides. This, study sets out to investigate the neuropsychiatric effects of long-term exposure to OPâs in wine and table grape farm workers in South Africa
Date January 2010
CreatorsMajor, Viveca Joy
ContributorsLondon, Leslie
PublisherUniversity of Cape Town, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Public Health and Family Medicine
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeMaster Thesis, Masters, MSc

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