June 15, 2024

Punjab Farmers at risk of Genotoxic Damage


THD NewsDesk, New Delhi: Due to the heavy use of pesticides, farmers in Punjab are at a higher risk of genotoxic damage. This excessive use of pesticides has caused the chemical agents to damage the genetic material within a cell, inducing mutations and contributing to severe disorder such as cancer.

As studied by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, use of pesticides has impacted tremendously causing heath related issues in an agrarian province like Punjab (third largest user of pesticides). Their research states that upon examining the chromosomal aberrations among pesticide-exposed farm workers and non-pesticide-exposed non-agricultural workers, the result revealed that persistent exposure to pesticides contributes to more abundant chromosome loss.

It was observed that over 93% of farm workers subjected to pesticides had a greater heath issues like

  • chromosomal aberrations with a higher frequency of aneuploidy
  • acute health problems during the handling of pesticides by over 26 percent of the exposed participants

Taking blood samples from 148 agricultural workers and 148 non-agricultural workers, a total of 296 people were tested. With subjects who were exposed, the peripheral blood lymphocytes were shown to have a high level of aberrations relative to non-exposed subjects. The farm workers included in the study had an overall history of exposure of 25 years, while half of them recorded prior pesticide exposure within the last 15 days. 70 percent of them never used personal protective equipment (PPE) during the treatment of pesticides during their occupational activities.

In the present Covid-19 pandemic situation, people are aware of the advantages of PPE kits. So, it has been proposed to make mandatory wearing of PPE when handling pesticides by the farm staff. However, the adoption of alternative agricultural technique, such as, organic farming, and the use of biological pesticides for pest control were equally encouraged by the research conducted by GNDU’s Department of Human Genetics, Anupam Kaur and Meenakshi Ahluwalia.

Anupam Kaur further said “Aromatic hydrocarbons are composed of essential oils and are secondary metabolites of plants that have insecticidal, nematocidal, fungicidal, ovicidal, and bactericidal effects. Those can be used as an option to chemical pesticides and need to be marketed as a pest control technique”.

Participants who were exposed to pesticides revealed high presence of pathological metaphases (15.47± 0.81) in comparison to non-exposed participants (3.70± 0.33). Therefore, in order to reduce contamination and potential health consequences for people coming into direct or indirect contact with pesticides, strict steps for the proper disposal and treatment of these toxic substances have been emphasized.

Tags: FarmersPesticidesPPE kitsPunjab

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