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Have you been exposed to pesticides and feeling unwell – you may have an occupational disease

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What are pesticides and what are they used for?

Pesticides are used domestically as well as occupationally to control, repel and destroy pests. Pesticides are commonly dispersed as an aerosol on crops. They are also used around the home and garden to control insects.

Can pesticides be harmful to the human body?

Organophosphate pesticides are among the most toxic of all pesticides and work by inhibiting an enzyme which is critical for the control of nerve signals in the body. Some organophosphate pesticides have also been found in blood cells, glial cells, plasma and the liver. Exposure to this form of pesticide can result in the death of pests as well as harmful side effects to humans.

Who is at most at risk of suffering adverse health risks from exposure to pesticides?

Those who can be affected by pesticide exposure include:

  • those who use pesticides domestically
  • those who are exposed to pesticides due to the nature of their occupation such as laboratory workers working with organophosphate pesticides, gardeners, maintenance workers, ground keepers, veterinary workers, agricultural and horticultural workers. Those involved in the preparation/manufacture, handling, transport, storage or distribution of pesticides are also at risk
  • those who live near a treated field or garden
  • those exposed to contaminated water, crops and soil

How can you be exposed to pesticides?

The most common route of entry for exposure is absorption through skin contact. Oral ingestion can occur accidentally as a result of poor work practices and personal hygiene. Organophosphate pesticides can also be inhaled but are often this has a less toxic effect than skin contact.

What are some common symptoms from pesticide exposure?

Common symptoms reported after exposure to organophosphate pesticides include:

  • anxiety
  • ataxia
  • blurred vision
  • breathing difficulties
  • chest tightness
  • confusion
  • excessive sweating
  • headaches
  • reduced appetite
  • restlessness
  • slurred speech
  • tingling and burning sensations
  • weakness

What are some common conditions that are known to have an association with pesticide exposure?

There are an increasing number epidemiological and experimental studies supporting associations between pesticide exposure and adverse health effects. These Studies have found associations between pesticides exposure and the development of conditions including:

  • Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neurone disease
  • asthma
  • cancer such as hepatocellular carcinoma, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer
  • diabetes
  • immunotoxicity

What should I do if I’ve been exposed to pesticides and feel unwell?

If you or someone you know has worked in an occupation in which they may have been exposed to pesticides and are feeling unwell, it is recommended that that person see their general practitioner or specialist to determine if their symptoms may be due to the nature of their past or current employment. It is important that an occupational history is provided and if you don’t feel that your symptoms have been properly investigated that you seek a second opinion and/or request diagnostic testing. Given that the period between exposure and the onset of symptoms can be lengthy by decades for some diseases and illnesses, early preventative measures and detection is recommended where possible.

How can we assist you?

A past or current worker diagnosed with an occupational disease may be entitled to WorkCover compensation. We have a team of experts on occupational diseases, who have seen how traumatic the effects an occupational disease or condition can be on not just the person affected but their family and friends.

If you have been diagnosed with a disease or are investigating your symptoms that may be due to the nature of your occupation, please contact our office on 03 8527 0200 for an obligation free telephone appointment to speak with one of our expert occupational disease WorkCover lawyers who can advise you on your prospects in pursuing WorkCover compensation and/or entitlements through your superannuation and/or personal insurance policies. You may also submit a FREE CLAIM CHECK ONLINE.

Your road to recovery begins here.

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