Information on Pesticide Illness Reporting Systems

GAO-01-501T: Published: Mar 13, 2001. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 2001.

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John B. Stephenson
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This testimony discusses findings from two GAO reports that relate to Maryland's pending legislation on pesticide reporting. To determine how the nation's information on pesticide illnesses could be improved, GAO has worked with two federal agencies--the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Center for Environmental Health. These agencies told GAO that establishing state pesticide illness reporting systems are key to improving the national information on acute pesticide illnesses. For example, according to NIOSH, state-based reporting systems are the best available data source for identifying epidemics, clusters of diseases, emerging pesticide problems, and populations at risk. Currently, about half of the states have some requirement that pesticide incidents be reported. However, only six states have a formal pesticide illness reporting and investigation system, and another three states have more limited systems. If Maryland decides to develop a formal pesticide illness reporting system, they may wish to consider these two important recommendations made by experts at federal agencies: (1) laws that require health care officials to report pesticide-related illness and injury. and (2) improving the training of health care professionals in pesticide incident handling.

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