OBJECTIVE: To evaluate risk perception, practices and attitudes on pesticide use in a rural population. METHODOLOGICAL PROCEDURES: Qualitative study conducted in Midwestern Brazil in February 2005. Seven focal groups (N=40), comprising five to seven individuals each, discussed pesticide-related issues and included the presentation of a product container to support the discussion on labels. The discussions were tape recorded, transcribed and analyzed following the method for discourse analysis. ANALYSIS OF RESULTS: The farmers studied were aware of the risks resulting from direct and indirect exposure to pesticides and many were concerned about potential environmental contamination. Interviewee's information on pesticides was limited to product dosage and was mostly conveyed by product retailers. They complained about the small print and technical language used in product labels but many were able to understand the pictograms and color toxicity codes. CONCLUSIONS: The farmers studied not always converted their risk perception and personal experiences into safer practices for pesticide use such as use of personal protective devices. They feel hopeless to face risky situations, mainly because of unmanageable environmental factors and their vulnerable financial condition. This community needs to be involved in targeted governmental extension programs that stress alternative pest managements and safe use of pesticides.
Rural Workers; Pesticides; Occupational Exposure; Occupational Risks; Health Knowledge; Health Knowledge; Qualitative Research