GUATEMALA CITY – At least 114 Guatemalans died between January and September this year of pesticide poisoning, health officials reported.
In a statement to the local daily Prensa Libre published Nov. 18, the director of the Epidemiology Center at the Health Ministry,Mario Gudiel, said that in the first nine months of this year 629 cases of pesticide poisoning were recorded, of which 114 were fatal.
Most of the poisoning was caused by the improper use of products on farms to control insects and other pests that damage agricultural crops, because the campesinos applying the chemicals were not equipped with adequate protective gear.
Gudiel said that the number of deaths for pesticide poisoning is “too high” because it stems from accidents that could easily be avoided with the proper training.
Between January and September 2005, some 1,162 cases of poisoning were recorded, of which 211 ended in death, although 117 of these were deemd suicides.
According to the Health Ministry, hundreds of farmers are also victims of kidney, liver and breathing problems or of cancer from being exposed to the pesticides used to fumigate crops.