Individuals also vary in their sensitivity to different levels of these chemicals. Some people may show no reaction to an exposure that may cause severe illness in others. Because of potential health concerns, pesticide users and handlers must recognize the common signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning.
The effects, or symptoms, of pesticide poisoning can be broadly defined as either topical or systemic. Topical effects generally develop at the site of pesticide contact and are a result of either the pesticide's irritant properties (either the active and/or inert ingredient) or an allergic response by the victim.
Dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin, is accepted as the most commonly reported topical effect associated with pesticide exposure. Symptoms of dermatitis range from reddening of the skin to rashes and/or blisters. Some individuals exhibit allergic reactions when using pesticides or when these materials are applied in or around their homes or places of work. Symptoms of allergic reactions range from reddening and itching of the skin and eyes to respiratory discomfort often resembling an asthmatic condition.
Systemic effects are quite different from topical effects. They often occur away from the original point of contact as a result of the pesticide being absorbed into and distributed throughout the body. Systemic effects often include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, and intestinal disorders.
Seeking prompt medical attention is important; however the development of certain symptoms is not always the result of exposure to a pesticide. Common illnesses such as the flu, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, pneumonia, asthma, respiratory and intestinal infections, and even a hangover can cause symptoms similar to pesticide exposure. Carefully consider all possible causes of your symptoms.