Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2019, Article ID 3084501, 11 pages
Research Article

Biomonitoring of Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) Activity among Smallholder Horticultural Farmers Occupationally Exposed to Mixtures of Pesticides in Tanzania

1The Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), P.O. Box 447, Arusha, Tanzania
2Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), P.O. Box 3024, Arusha, Tanzania
3Binghamton University-State University of New York, Binghamton, NY 13902, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Jones A. Kapeleka; moc.liamg@zt87kaj

Received 26 January 2019; Revised 27 May 2019; Accepted 11 August 2019; Published 11 September 2019

Academic Editor: Evelyn O. Talbott

Copyright © 2019 Jones A. Kapeleka et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Biomonitoring of pesticides exposure has currently become a matter of great public concern due to the potential health effects of pesticides. This study assessed levels of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition and associated health effects in uncontrolled smallholder farming systems in rural Tanzania. A cross-sectional study was conducted of 90 exposed farmers and 61 nonexposed controls from horticultural zones. A structured questionnaire was administered, and a capillary blood sample of 10 μl was used to measure AChE activity using an Erythrocyte Acetylcholinesterase Test Mate Photometric Analyzer kit (Model 400). A multiple logistic regression model was used to investigate determinants of pesticide exposure. The study revealed that smallholder farmers are occupationally exposed to pesticides. Exposed farmers had significantly lower AChE levels. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) did not significantly reduce the likelihood of AChE inhibition. Women, younger and older farmers, and underweight, overweight, and obese farmers were at increased risk of AChE inhibition. Increase in age (10 years) increased likelihood of AChE inhibition by 6.7%, while decrease in BMI increased likelihood of AChE inhibition by 86.7% while increased pesticides contact hours increased risk of having lower AChE at about 3 times. The number of exposure symptoms (14.10 ± 7.70) was higher in exposed farmers than unexposed. Self-reported symptoms are confirmed to correlate to lower AChE. Prevalence of tiredness (71.6% against 15.5%), fatigue (64.8% against 27.6%), soreness in joints (59.1% against 20.7%), thirst (52.3% against 12.1%), skin irritation (52.1% against 17.2%), salivation and abdominal pain (50% against 8.6% and 31.0%, respectively), muscle weakness (47.7% against 24.1%), and memory loss (47.7% against and 29.3%) differed significantly between exposed and control. This study provides useful information regarding the level of occupational and environmental exposure to pesticides in smallholder horticultural production systems. Pesticides use needs to be controlled at farm level by developing pesticides monitoring and surveillance systems.