Pesticide Applicator Safety

Normal exposure to pesticides does not cause diseases or adverse conditions to those exposed to them the most – pesticide applicators.

Scientific evidence shows that normal exposure to pesticides does not cause diseases or adverse conditions to those exposed to them the most – pesticide applicators.

In fact, the most consistent finding across the largest epidemiological studies on farm workers is that this group is healthier than the general population.1, 2, 3, 4 Overall, these workers have lower incidences of most cancer types and live longer than non-farmers.

It is important farm workers and others use pesticides carefully. Farmers who follow label instructions and good agricultural practices for the responsible use of pesticides protect themselves and their farm from adverse effects. This includes wearing protective clothing, applying and storing products carefully and following label instructions.

Overall, farm workers have lower incidences of most cancer types and live longer than non-farmers.

Industry Training

The plant science industry encourages farmers to use pesticides with care, only when needed and only as much as needed. Label recommendations help ensure that these products are applied appropriately and only when necessary.

Pesticide companies work hard to train and educate farmers. The health and safety of consumers and pesticide handlers is the industry’s highest priority, demonstrated through rigorous product testing, farmer training programs and sound management practices.

CropLife International and its member companies have a long history of implementing programs around the world over the last 20 years to promote and train farmers in the responsible purchase, transport, storage, use and disposal of pesticides. The crop protection industry invests millions of dollars to encourage the responsible use of its products. Between 100,000 and 300,000 farm workers are trained each year in Integrated Pest Management and responsible use programs. During 2005-2014, the global CropLife network trained more than 3 million farmers and agricultural workers in 82 countries.

Between 100,000 and 300,000 farm workers are trained each year in Integrated Pest Management and responsible use programs.

The crop protection industry endorses the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management, which has standards for the distribution and use of pesticides. CropLife International and its members collaborate with United Nations agencies such as UN Environment and the Food and Agriculture Organization to ensure the responsible management of pesticides.

Smart Product Packaging

Pesticide companies continuously improve pesticide packaging for safety and efficacy. The crop protection industry puts in place safety measures to prevent accidental or intentional misuse, such as safety seals and vomit-inducing ingredients.

Liquid formulas may be switched to gels or microcapsules that don’t dissolve in water to prevent spillage. Prominent warnings on labels along with suitably-sized and easy-to-handle containers discourage decanting products into unlabeled, inappropriate containers. Coloring or adding a strong smell to products to avoid mistaken identity, child-resistant caps and built-in measuring devices also help protect farmers and their families.

The crop protection industry cannot take responsibility for intentional misuse of products; however, it lessens the chance of accidents with risk mitigation measures. For example, products may be restricted in use per application or geography and/or only be sold to professional applicators.


1 Leveque-Morlais N, Tual S, Clin B, Adjemian A, Baldi I Lebailly P. 2014. The AGRIculture and CANcer (AGRICAN) cohort study: enrollment and causes of death for the 2005–2009 period. Int Arch Occ Env Hea. (2015) 88:61-73.
2 Koutros S, Alavanja MC, Lubin JH, Sandler DP, Hoppin JA, Lynch CF, Knott C, Blair A, Freeman LE. 2010. An update of cancer incidence in the Agricultural Health Study. J Occup Environ Med. 52(11):1098-105.
3 Waggoner JK, Kullman GJ, Henneberger PK, Orbach DM, Blair A, Alavanja MC, Kamel F, Lynch CF, Knott C, London SJ et al. 2011. Mortality in the Agricultural Health Study, 1993-2007. Am J Epidemiol. 173:71-83.
4 Frost G, T. Brown T, Harding AH. 2011. Mortality and cancer incidence among British agricultural pesticide users. Occup Med (Lond). 61(5):303-10.

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