Deaths from pesticide poisoning in South Korea: Trends over 10 years

Won Jin Lee, Eun Shil Cha, Eun Sook Park, Kyoung Ae Kong, Jun Hyeok Yi, Mia Son

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Objectives: Pesticide poisoning is a major cause of death in the world. The objective of this study was to examine the trends of pesticide poisoning deaths and their epidemiologic characteristics in South Korea. Methods: We evaluated the age-standardized mortality rates from pesticide-related deaths (intentional self-poisoning, accidental poisoning, assault, undetermined intent poisoning) in South Korea from 1996 through 2005, using registered death data obtained from the Korea National Statistical Office. The regional rurality index was calculated and correlation analyses were used to estimate the association with pesticide poisoning mortality. Results: The number of pesticide poisoning deaths from 1996 through 2005 was 25,360, which accounted for 58.3% of the total poisoning fatalities. The age-standardized mortality rates by pesticide poisoning significantly increased from 4.42 to 6.42 per 100,000 population, whereas the total death rate was decreased in the same period. Intentional self-poisoning was the majority cause of death from pesticides (84.8% of total pesticide poisoning deaths). The majority of the pesticide poisoning deaths were men, over 50 years old, with education less than middle school, and residing in rural areas. The rate of pesticide poisoning deaths was the highest in the farming period and was significantly correlated with the rurality index of each region. Conclusions: Pesticide poisoning deaths substantially increased during the 10-year study period, and showed demographic, seasonal and regional variations. More intensive intervention efforts to reduce pesticide mortality should become a public health priority in South Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-371
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Epidemiology
  • Mortality
  • Pesticides
  • Poisoning
  • South Korea


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