• Vol. 38 No. 8, 707–713
  • 15 August 2009

Health Profiles of Methyl Bromide Applicators in Greenhouses in Turkey



Introduction: Methyl bromide is a toxic substance that has hazardous effects on human health with acute and chronic exposure. Our previous study showed that methyl bromide applicators frequently use large amounts of methyl bromide haphazardly in greenhouses in the prefectures of Narlidere and Balcova in the Aegean city of Izmir. This study aims to evaluate the health conditions of these workers. Materials and Methods: Our previous study showed that there are 38 methyl bromide applicators in our study area. After the informed consent of methyl bromide applicators was obtained, a questionnaire was used for a survey of demography and symptoms. Each subject was examined before and after application of the compound. Blood and urine samples were collected and stored. Blood samples were analysed for methyl bromide and bromide ion, kidney and liver function tests and lipid profile. Results: The age range of subjects was 19 to 53 years (mean age: 41 ± 8.57). This study showed that methyl bromide applicators use large amounts of methyl bromide disregarding legal regulations and that some of them had non-specific complaints. Subjects had been working as methyl bromide applicators for approximately 9.7 ± 4.15 years. A total of 69.7% of methyl bromide applicators reported that they did not use protective equipment while 33.3% of them had a history of acute methyl bromide intoxication. A statistically significant relationship was found between the usage of protective equipment and the level of blood bromide ion in the blood (P <0.05). Conclusion: Usage of methyl bromide, training, screening and follow-up of applicators must be rigorously controlled in accordance with national legal arrangements and international protocols. Greater efforts are required in the implementation of controls to achieve the targets set by the legal regulations and to ensure continual improvement in the limitation of the risks of this environmental hazard.

Methyl bromide is primarily used as a fumigant for the control of nematodes, fungi and weeds in greenhouses, warehouses and mills. Today, around 50,000 tons of methyl bromide are used per year and about 80% of this are consumed in developed countries. The largest consumers are the United States, Italy, Japan, Israel and Spain. Developing countries with the largest annual consumption include Turkey, Brazil, China, Korean Republic, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa and Zimbabwe.1-5

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