OBJECTIVE: The indiscriminate use of pesticides has been contributing for the environmental quality degradation, as well as it increases the occupational exposures to these products, determining a serious public health problem in rural areas. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the exposures of rural workers of Rio de Janeiro State to anticholinesterasic pesticides, through the analyses of the acetylcholinesterase from red cells (AChE) and plasmatic butyrilcholinesterase (BChE) levels. Social-economic factors, such as the educational level of these workers, can strongly influence this situation, reason why the impact of some social-economic indicators and practices of pesticides' use in the human contamination status for rural areas were also evaluated. METHODS: The evaluation of rural workers exposure to pesticides was performed to a random sample of 55 workers among the 300 inhabitants of the study area -- five communities of Magé county, RJ. The AChE and BChE activities were determined to these workers. The enzymatic activities were evaluated according to the Ellman's method modified by Oliveira-Silva. Social-economic and pesticides use data were collected by a structured interview. The possible role of social-economic and pesticide use indicators as determinants of the worker's contamination was estimated by multivariate statistic techniques, using the enzymatic activity as the dependent variable and the social-economics pesticides use indicators as independent variables. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: The data showed distinct results concerning the incidence of excessive exposure, according to the enzymatic indicator used. In the studied sample, a result of 3.0 % was found for the BChE values, and 41.8 %, according to AChE. Individuals with at least one positive enzymatic indicator result were considered as "intoxicated". When these data were compared to the social-economic and pesticides use factors, it was showed the importance of educational level in the prevalence of intoxication. The others indicators studied did not showed any significant and evident correlation.
Rural workers; Insecticides, organophosphate; Occupational, exposure; Pesticide exposure; Socioeconomic factors; Carbamates; Rural health; Biodegradation; Environmental degradation; Cholinesterase inhibitors