Monitoring the educational level of farmers and retailers on pesticide use would be useful to assess the appropriateness of information for reducing or/and avoiding the risks from pesticides in rural regions. The levels of knowledge and awareness of the dangers to the environment and human health were investigated by questionnaires for farmers (209) and retailers (20) in two rural regions (Qianyang County (S1) and Chencang County (S2)) of the Wei River catchment in China where the modes of farming and the state of erosion are very different. The results showed that farmers learned the use and dangers of pesticides mainly by oral communication (p <0.01). Protective measures were inadequate; 65% (S1) and 55% (S2) of farmers never used any protective measures during spraying (p <0.05). Washing hands (> 70%) was the most common mode of personal hygiene, relative to wearing masks, showering, and changing clothes, but no significant differences were observed between the selected regions. Most pesticide wastes were dumped directly onto the land or into water, suggesting that educational measures should be taken to address the potential risks from the residues in the wastes. Over 85% of farmers (S1 and S2) claimed to use illegal pesticides, but the reasons for their use varied (p <0.01). Retailers were well-informed and highly conscious of their responsibility for the safe use of pesticides, especially in S2 (p <0.01). A canonical correspondence analysis indicated that educational level and age differed between the two regions and contributed greatly to the risks from pesticide use (p <0.01). Educational programmes targeted to age groups, proper disposal of pesticide waste, and sufficient supervision from authorities should consequently be considered for improving the levels of knowledge and awareness of the dangers of pesticides to human health and environmental pollution in the Wei River catchment, China.
- human health
- safe use