The purpose of this work was to determine if the occupational exposure to those pesticides used at banana plantations’ packaging plants produces genetic damage to somatic cells of female workers. Chromosomal aberrations were scored in lymphocytes of 20 women, 10 female exposed workers and 10 female controls. Workers were recruited from independent farms from two locations in Costa Rica, during January through June in 1996 and 1997. These females had a minimum of three months of work, had never received chemotherapy or radiotherapy and did some of these labors: sealing, spraying or weighting of bananas. Control unexposed females lived in the same area, were of similar age and neither them nor their husbands/mates had ever worked in pesticide related labors. For each female, 100 mitotic figures were scored. The kind of aberrations detected were acentric fragments, dicentric chromosomes, rings, gaps and breaks. Among workers, 16% of cells (n=1000) had one or more abnormalities, whereas control unexposed females had 6% of cells (n=1000) with comparable anomalies (p<0.05). In conclusion, the pesticide exposure is a risk factor for chromosome aberrations in female somatic cells
Keywords: pesticides, chromosomal aberrations, costa rica, banana parking