Research engagement changes attitudes and behaviours towards agrichemical safety in Australian farmers
journal contributionposted on 2020-03-01, 00:00 authored by Sienna Russell-GreenSienna Russell-Green, Jacquie CottonJacquie Cotton, Susan BrumbySusan Brumby
There is limited research that evaluates the effect of farmer involvement in agrichemical exposure surveillance on their attitudes and behaviour towards pesticide handling and use of personal protective equipment. This limited follow-up study aimed to (i) evaluate attitudes/behaviours towards the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) among farmers who participated in the In-Field Personalised Cholinesterase Assessment Project (PCAP) (2016/17); and (ii) qualitatively assess the effect of monthly presentation of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) testing results on farmer agrichemical safety practices and behaviours prior to, and following participation in PCAP. This study surveyed 42 farming men and women, asking questions about agrichemical usage and hygiene practices. The majority of surveyed farmers’ self-apply agrichemicals on their farm (97.6%), with 81% reporting that involvement in PCAP research changed the way they handled Organophosphates (OPs)—a widely used insecticide in agriculture. By enabling people to think critically about their exposure, there was a 66% increase in frequency of respirator usage post-PCAP. Following this, participants were invited to take part in one-on-one interviews to further discuss their involvement in PCAP. Many responses were positive, with participants stating they were more aware and cautious of their own practices. This study determined that research participation and point-of-care testing and education can result in effective engagement of farmers and farm workers, increase health literacy and change farming practice—highlighting the importance of an interactive, participatory model in order to bring about change, to reduce possible pesticide exposures.