IAC-Quepia Study Highlights Occupational Exposure in Citrus Spraying Activities

In a recent study, the Quality of Personal Protective Equipment in Agriculture (Quepia) program of the IAC (Instituto Agronômico) has conducted an in-depth analysis of occupational exposure during citrus spraying activities. Supported by the Fundecitrus and Fundag, the research focused on evaluating the risks faced by workers using turbo sprayers in citrus orchards. The study, led by the scientific researcher Hamilton Ramos, sheds light on critical aspects of worker safety and the efficacy of current protective measures.

The study evaluated the occupational exposure of workers during the spraying activity in citrus with turbopulverizers, a type of equipment that uses air pressure to distribute the agrochemicals. The researchers conducted tests and surveys in eight properties of in the state of São Paulo, involving 24 operators of the machinery.

The main findings of the study are:

  • The cabin of the tractor used for the spraying is not enough to protect the operator from the exposure to the agrochemicals. The study recommends the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, goggles, and coveralls inside the cabin.
  • The preparation of the agrochemical mixture is the stage that increases the exposure of the operator the most. The study suggests the use of specific PPE for this task, such as aprons, boots, and hats, as well as the proper handling and storage of the products.
  • The parts of the body that are most susceptible to exposure are the right arm, the right thigh, and the front part, due to the movements that the spraying activity requires. The study advises the use of appropriate PPE for these areas, such as long sleeves, pants, and vests.
  • The spraying activity in citrus is generally safe, considering almost all the active ingredients analyzed. Only one of them requires additional protective measures, which are specified in the study.

The results of the study are available for consultation by companies and specialists linked to the citrus sector. The study is part of the IAC-Quepia program, which aims to improve the safety and quality of PPE used in the application of agrochemicals. The program has been running for 16 years and has the support of the Fundecitrus and the Fundag.