An epidemiological study by the Kozhikode Medical College has reconfirmed that various abnormalities and diseases were higher among the people in the Endosulfan-sprayed areas of Kasaragod district than among the normal population. High levels of Endosulfan was detected in the blood samples of villagers of 11 panchayats, a decade after the State-owned Plantation Corporation of Kerala stopped spraying the pesticide in its estates in the district.
The study done by the Community Medicine Department of the government medical college, headed by T. Jayakrishnan, showed that the reproductive health problems including infertility, precocious puberty, abortion, intra-uterine death and still birth, neonatal and child death were significantly higher among the villagers when compared to control groups.
Among the youth population (below the age of 40 years), the rate of surgery for heart diseases, hernia and genito urinary causes was higher. When the prevalence of morbidity in adolescents was assessed, it was found that organ anomaly, birth defects, congenital heart disease, seizure, skin problems and reproductive disorders were significantly higher in the study group when compared to control groups.
Dr. Jayakrishnan and his colleagues C. Prabhakumari and Bina Thomas had surveyed 1,200 households in 11 worst-affected panchayats and 850 households in the control area (Banam in Kodom panchayat) which is within 30 km of the affected villages. Percentage of intra-uterine deaths was found to be double that of Banam in Muliyar panchayat. While percentage of abortions was 7.7 in Muliyar, it was only 4.4 per cent in Banam. There are indications that occurrence of birth defects and problems like abortions have come down during the past ten years, after spraying of Endosulfan in cashew plantations was discontinued.
The study team had also done a comparison of students at a high school at Bovikanam in Muliyar panchayat and Kodom Belur Government High School at Kalichandukam. The height and weight of pupils in the Bovikanam school were found to be lower than those at the Kalichandukam school. Prevalence of morbidity was also higher in Bovikanam. Death among siblings was 9.5 per cent in Bovikanam and 6.6 per cent in Kalichandukam. Surgery due to birth defects was also high in Bovikanam. The percentage of students suffering from seizures and asthma was double that of Kalichandukam.
The school at Bovikanam had a 20 per cent prevalence of skin problems among students whereas it was 11 per cent in the other school. The prevalence of problems affecting the eyes was three-fold in Bovikanam. Hormonal abnormalities were also noticed among the children.
Analysis of blood samples of 41 persons (men and women aged between 12 to 62 years) from the villages showed presence of Endosulfan (alfa endosulfan and its degradation product endosulfan sulphate) ranging from 2.21 to 117.18 parts per billion. Most of them were people who had come to medical camps and none was free of Endosulfan in blood.