Handling Conditions and Pesticide-Related Sign/ Symptoms among Agrochemical Sellers in Bafoussam Municipality, West-Cameroon

Special Article - Pesticides

Austin Environ Sci. 2020; 5(2): 1048.

Handling Conditions and Pesticide-Related Sign/ Symptoms among Agrochemical Sellers in Bafoussam Municipality, West-Cameroon

Blandine TS¹, Jean S¹* and Samelle EAE²

¹Department of Social Economy and Family Management, The University of Bamenda, Cameroon

²Department of Biochemistry, The University of Bamenda, Cameroon

*Corresponding author: Sonchieu Jean, Department of Social Economy and Family Management, The University of Bamenda, Higher Technical Teacher Training College, PO. Box 39 Bambili, Cameroon

Received: June 16, 2020; Accepted: July 06, 2020; Published: July 13, 2020


Many untrained pesticide sellers in Cameroon sell pesticides in agro-shops and warehouses narrow and poorly ventilated. The aim of this study was to evaluate the knowledge, practices, pesticide-related diseases and handling conditions among pesticide sellers in Bafoussam municipality (West Region, Cameroon). 70 Agro-shops were systematically visited and questionnaires were administered to the selected pesticide sellers who were more experienced and who spend more time in the shop. As results, it was observed that headaches (38%),skin irritation (19.7%), nausea (39.6%), shortness of breath (28.1%) and running nose (23.9%) were symptoms exhibited by pesticide sellers; pesticides were stored either in the shops or in warehouses; safety measures generally applied by pesticide sellers were sitting outside the shop, taking charcoal solution, drink palm oil, and the use of protective clothing; only 41.14% of sellers had less than 5years of experience in selling pesticides; permanent pesticide sellers were exposed to chronic intoxication ; some of the employees in some shops were not trained on pesticides handling and will manipulate pesticides with no protection. Most respondents were exposes to pesticide related symptoms and there is a need to focus further studies on analyzing pesticide residues in biological fluid and to evaluated damages occurred because of occupational exposure. It becomes more necessary for employees to be trained before they handle pesticides and selling conditions being ameliorated.

Keywords: Pesticide sellers; Signs/symptoms; Pesticide exposure; Pesticide handling


DDT: Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane; AChE: Acetyl Choline- Esterase; NGO: Non-Governmental Organization; PPE: Personal Protective Equipment; GAP: Good Agricultural Practices; WHO: World Health Organization.


Pesticides are poisonous chemicals known to produce adverse effects in humans. There are many sources of pesticide contamination to humans including food, water, and air. Chemical pesticides are widely used in Cameroon and other countries for agricultural production. In 2018, more than 600 pesticide products were approved for use in various food stuff in Cameroon [1]. It has become an integral part of present-day farming and plays a major role in increasing agricultural productivity. According to standards set by World Health Organization [2], only pesticides that are safe to farmers and farm-workers, other non-target species and the consumers should be used in agricultural production. But the safer pesticides are often either more expensive or less efficacious. Consequently, farmers purchase contraband pesticides from shop owners and other fraudulent means. However, the unsafe, indiscriminate and extensive use of pesticides represents one of the major environmental and public health problems all over the world [3]. Their harmfulness has been demonstrated by previous studies, such as the deleterious effects of DDT-related compounds on Lake Apoka (Florida) alligators [4].

Exposure to pesticides evidenced by storage of related residues in human tissues and excretion in urine [5,6,7] were demonstrated to be associated with immune suppression, hormone disruption, cancer, and reproductive abnormalities [8]. Active pesticide molecules belonging to various chemical groups are able to interact with the normal functioning of living systems, and therefore can alter various metabolic pathways to create numerous pathologies [1]. In the same light exposure to chemical pesticides is one of the most significant occupational risks among users in developing countries as they can easily get in contact with the pesticides, for example, when mixing the chemicals [9]. Also, the carelessness, together with the handling conditions of these chemicals, which very often are unfair [10,11], make the population living in these countries, good candidates for hazards by pesticides.

Pesticide poisoning is gradually becoming a major public health concern in Cameroon. Studies of exposure to pesticides in Cameroon are still in infancy, yet this country with a population of about 20 million inhabitants is heavily relying on agriculture for its economy [11]. Many reports state that about 75% of total employment is in agricultural sector, and pesticide subsector was liberalized in 1990 [12]. Previous studies [13] found that the main cause of pesticide poisoning was ignorance about its dangers. Users confront a particularly high risk of pesticide poisoning due to the added risk from their occupational exposure through pesticide management when mixing, applying, spraying, transporting, storing, taking care of equipment, reentering into the field, spillage, and doing careless disposal. The incidence of pesticides poison can result from them is use, storage of pesticides close to consumable food stuff, the use of pesticides containers for household, improper disposal of used containers, treatment of food stuff with pesticides, transport of food and pesticides in the same lorry and cars [14]. Approximately 98% of all insecticides and 95% of herbicides that are sprayed do not reach the target destination [15]. They reach non-target specie by pesticide drift which occurs when pesticides suspended in air as particles are carried by wind to other areas potentially polluting them, water pollution, bottom sediments, and food.

The effects of pesticides on humans has been demonstrated by many authors. It is known that, organ phosphorus and the carbamates insecticides are inhibitors of Acetyl Cholinesterase (AChE). This action induce an accumulation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at the nervous terminal after short (acute) or long term (chronic) exposure, with the potential to alter neurological development in humans [16,17]. Many pesticides sold in shops are volatile and confined environment will increase the health risk of workers who are frequently exposed. Sonchieu et al., (2006) [18] reported that pesticides sellers in Bamenda and surroundings present some health concerns.

This study was aimed to bring into light affection from people who are permanently exposed in agroshops in Bafoussam municipality which is known to be the one of the most important city of Cameroon whit many such specific shops. The objectives were to investigate on pesticides related diseases among sellers in Bafoussam municipality. Results gotten from this study will be used to confirm or to infirm what presented some of pesticide sellers in Bamenda and to show the needs of governmental intervention to this sector of activities.

Pesticide poisoning remains a serious problem for Cameroonians.

Material and Methods

Area of study

The area of study was Bafoussam municipality. Bafoussam is the capital of the West Region of Cameroon located in the centralwestern part of the Republic of Cameroon. Economically Bafoussam is the third most important city in Cameroon after Yaounde and Douala. It extends over an area of 91 km² distributed in its urban and the rural areas respectively [19]. It lies between latitudes 5 o 28'40” to the North of the equator and between longitudes 10o 25’3” to the East of the Meridian. The altitudinal range is from 1310m to 1470m. The climate is constantly cool with a temperature oscillating between 15oC and 22oC. With climate change in recent years, Bafoussam sometimes reaches 28oC. Bafoussam is the West regional center of trade, and people cultivate coffee, potatoes, tomato, maize and beans. Bafoussam is made up of 07 villages (Bamendzi, Ndiangdam, Ndiangsouoh, Ndiangbou, Toukouop, Noueng and Banengo city B) with 46 districts or sub-villages. The city has an urban population of 347,517 inhabitants. Bafoussam municipality was chosen because of intensity of agricultural activities which depend on pesticide high demand and use. This area constituted part of the concentration points of pesticide sellers. The map of the study area is presented below (Figure 1).