Reducing Pesticide Exposure in Farmworker Families: Research to Practice
Principal Investigator: Sara A. Quandt, PhD
Migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families are exposed to pesticides through occupational and para- occupational pathways. This population of contingent workers, largely born in Latin America, experiences a disproportionate level of pesticide exposure, relative to the rest of the US population. Research has established the health hazards of such exposure. Children and women are at special risk for adverse health outcomes, and may have significant risks due to their roles in the home, residence near treated fields, and use of pesticides in substandard housing. This proposed demonstration project builds on over ten years of community-based participatory research (CBPR) conducted by a university-community partnership which has produced an effective lay health advisor intervention to reduce pesticide exposure among Latino farm workers and among their families. The goal of this project is to move an effective culturally- and educationally- appropriate pesticide safety intervention for farm worker families into public health practice.
The specific aims are: (1) to implement a demonstration project translating an effective intervention to reduce pesticide exposure among families of Latino farm workers to a broader public health context; (2) to evaluate the potential translatability and public health impact of this pesticide exposure intervention; and (3) to disseminate the program through public health programs at the local, regional and national levels.
The content of the intervention includes six general modules using active learning methods supported by materials designed for low-literacy adults. These modules address routes of pesticide exposure, procedures for keeping agricultural pesticides from entering the home, methods for removing pesticides from the home, using residential integrated pest management rather than pesticides to control pests, and methods to convince others to change behaviors. A seventh module addresses pesticide safety during pregnancy. Ten lay health advisors (promotoras de salud) will be placed with six collaborating community public health agencies in a 13 county area of eastern North Carolina. Promotoras will recruit farm worker families with at least one child under 12 and provide pesticide health and safety training, using a curriculum previously demonstrated to change knowledge of and behaviors toward pesticides. Liaisons from the community agencies will assist promotoras in locating farm worker families from their clientele and in carrying out the program.
Pre- and post intervention interviews will measure knowledge and behavior. Guided by a logic model, the program evaluation will focus on short term outcomes (increased individual knowledge about pesticide safety; greater mastery of specific behaviors to reduce pesticide exposure; increased the capacity of local public health agencies to prevent pesticide-related illnesses) and longer term outcomes (reductions in pesticide-related illnesses and the diffusion of this program into the broader network of public health agencies). The potential translatability and public health impact of the intervention will be assessed.
Funder: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health