What is the Pesticide Users' Health Study?
The Pesticide Users' Health Study (PUHS) was
established by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the
late 1990's. The aims of the study are to monitor the long-term
health of individuals potentially exposed to low levels of
pesticides on a longer term basis, and to help fill the gaps in
knowledge about the extent and nature of pesticide-related ill
How did pesticide users become part of the study?
In the 1990's and early 2000's, the National Proficiency Tests
Council (NPTC) issued the recognised Certificates of Competence
required by users of agricultural pesticides under the Control of
Pesticides Regulations 1986.
From 1994 to 2003, anyone applying for certification was invited
to give their permission for HSE to access information relating to
them for the purpose of medical research into pesticide use. For
those who agreed, NPTC passed their name, contact details and
information about their certification to HSE, and they became
members of the Pesticide Users' Health Study. There are around
65,000 participants from across Great Britain.
How did we collect information about the study participants'
From 2004 to 2006, HSE sent a questionnaire to all members of
the Pesticide Users' Health Study. This questionnaire looked at
users' work with pesticides at the time, and in the past. It also
asked about the types of pesticide used and the time spent using
How do we collect information about the study participants'
Around 96% of members of the Pesticide Users' Health Study have
been successfully 'flagged' with NHS central registers. This means
that the study team will be notified whenever a study member dies,
is diagnosed with cancer, or emigrates from or returns to Great
Britain. This information is provided to us on a quarterly basis by
Digital (for England and Wales) and National Records of
NHS Digital supplies cancer data on behalf of Public Health
England. The information received includes health data such as the
date of the event and the cancer type or cause of death, which is
regarded as a special category of information. We will use this
information to understand the long-term health of study
We have also received information on hospital admissions for
members of the Pesticide Users' Health Study. This will allow us to
investigate long-term ill health, such as neurological disease and
eye disease. This information was provided by NHS Digital.
How do we use the study participants' data?
The data collected by the study is used for health research
purposes only and is kept strictly confidential. The data will be
used to investigate whether there is any evidence of a link between
working with pesticides and health. The study findings will be
freely available online in HSE Research Reports or other published
The findings are reported in such a way that no individual can be
HSE is the sponsor for this study based in the United Kingdom.
We use the information from the participant and their medical
records (provided by NHS Digital and NRS) in order to undertake the
study and will act as the data controller for the study. This means
that HSE is responsible for looking after participants' information
and using it properly. HSE will keep identifiable information about
participants for fifteen (15) years after the study has
The data collected about participants may be provided to
researchers running other research studies in HSE or in other
organisations. These might be universities or other organisations
involved in health research in this country or abroad. Individuals
will not be identifiable in any data shared with other approved
researchers, and the data will not be combined with other
information in a way that could identify an individual
As a government agency we use personally identifiable
information to conduct research to improve workers' health. As a
publicly funded organisation, we have to ensure that it is in the
public interest when we use personally identifiable information
from people who have agreed to take part in research. This means
that when someone agrees to participate in a research study we will
use their data in the ways needed to conduct and analyse the
Participants' rights to access, change or move their information
are limited, as we need to manage their information in specific
ways in order for the research to be both reliable and accurate. If
a participant withdraws from the study, we will keep the
information about them that we have already obtained.
To safeguard participants' rights, we will use the minimum
personally identifiable information possible.
Health information is sensitive personal data and is regarded as
'special category' data. Sensitive personal data will only be
processed for research purposes.
This study does not use automated decision-making or profiling
to make decisions about individuals.
If you wish to raise a compaint on how we have handled personal
data you can contact our Data Protection Officer who will
investigate the matter. If you are not satisfied with our response
or believe that we are processing personal data in a way that is
not lawful then you may compalin to the Information Commissioner's
You can contact our Data Protection Officer by email at DPO@hse.gov.uk or you can write to
them at the following address:
Data Protection Officer
Health and Safety Executive
1.3 Redgrave Court
Liverpool L20 7HS
More information on how HSE processes data is provided
What work has been completed to date?
A number of reports and publications are freely available:
- HSE Research Reports on cancer incidence (RR956) and
mortality (RR958) among
members of the study
- An article in
Occupational Medicine on mortality and cancer incidence
- Results of the survey of pesticide usage undertaken from 2004
to 2006 has been summarised in HSE Research Report RR957
Analysis of hospital admissions among study participants is
currently being undertaken.
How is the study funded?
The Pesticide Users' Health Study is funded by the Health and
If you have any questions at all about the research, please
contact the survey team:
Pesticide Users' Health Study
Health and Safety Executive
Or via the website Contact Form.
If you are a member of the Pesticide Users'
Health Study, then please remember that you can withdraw from all
or part of the study at any time by contacting us using the e-mail
address given above.