Pesticides are use in agriculture for their capacity to reduce pest and protect foods. Since their introduction in Africa by colonial masters, the use of these chemicals is constantly growing. Herbicides and insecticides are the two dominant categories. Although they are used in small quantities by farmers who own small exploitation, the frequency of their use, as well as overuses and misuses, constitutes serious factors of exposure and health risks. Farm workers are more vulnerable to occupational effects from pesticide inhalation and skin contacts. Failure to wear protective equipment and observe good agricultural practices explained health symptoms that are frequently experienced: eye and skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, and headache. Population is subject to chronic health effects due to repeated dietary intake of pesticides. Most consumed staple foods on the continent (cereals, vegetables, and fruits) have been found to be contaminated by one or multiple residues of pesticides. The level of residues is often higher than regulatory limits. Organization of surveillance programs to monitor concentration of pesticide residues remains inexistent in most countries, same for toxicovigilance systems to documented poisoning cases. Current data underline the need to carry out pesticide health risk assessment in order to appreciate the threats they pose for public health.
Part of the book: Pesticides