* Aerial application is an efficient means of targeting chemical application to increase crop production.
* Aerial-application pilots, however, have a high rate of fatalities compared with pilots in other industries.
* Along with the risk of aircraft crash, there is the risk of exposure to hazardous substances.
* Some studies have suggested that pilot exposure to chemicals has been a factor in aerial-applicator crashes.
* Some of the chemicals are nervous-system toxicants (e.g., organophosphates and carbamate pesticide inhibitors of cholinesterase).
* Unplanned or uncontrolled releases of pesticides or other hazardous substances may occur during any phase of the aerial-application process, including
mixing and loading of chemicals into the aircraft,
application of the chemicals, and
servicing of the aircraft.
* Accidental releases can affect not only agricultural chemical-application workers, but also others entering the area.
* For this study, data from ATSDR's Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system were analyzed to
describe the number and type of unintended acute releases associated with aerial application during 1995-2002,
describe associated human health consequences, and
review measures to reduce releases and associated injuries.
* Data from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were also reviewed and compared with HSEES data.
* Most events occurred during May to September.
* Most occurred in the morning.
* Data from 2001 and 2002 suggest that the number of applicator incidents (but not victims) may be declining.
* General acceptance and use of safety precautions could reduce accidents and victims. Safety precautions include
providing showers or other decontamination equipment near application sites,
providing proper personal protective equipment and training for site workers,
providing proper equipment and training in pesticide hazards for community first responders or accident investigators,