NURS4301 Health Research Methods

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NURS4301 Health Research Methods

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NURS4301 Health Research Methods

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Course Code: NURS4301
University: The University Of Newcastle

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Country: Australia

Discuss about the Assessment of Pesticides Residue in Wheat Crop in Western Australia.

Literature Review
Agricultural pesticides are responsible for more than seventeen billion Australian dollars’ worth of crops grown annually in Australia (Deloitte, 2013). As per the report, this makes up more than sixty-five percent of Australia’s agriculture industry, valued at a total of twenty-six billion Australian dollars. Undoubtedly, pesticides have reduced food loss and also facilitated the provision of pristine produce for the Australian population. However, they also represent a significant risk for the health of both human and wildlife. Australian farmers primarily use herbicides, insecticides, growth promotants and fungicides as the principal forms of pesticides (Radcliffe, 2002). Glyphosate is the common pesticide in Australia whereas organophosphates are the widely-used insecticides, and several variants of fungicides and growth regulators whose use exceed 3,000 tonnes and 500 tonnes per annum (Radcliffe, 2002). According to the Crop Life Foundation of the Crop Protection Research Institute, herbicides are key for the farming of wheat in the country (Gianessi & Williams, 2011). The use of herbicides has been attributed to improving rainfall-use efficiency and increasing wheat yields (Turner, 2004).
There is limited literature on pesticide residual in wheat in Australia. A search on Google scholar, EBSCOhost, and ProQuest returned minimal results on the topic, indicating how the topic has not been given significant interest in Australia. Only a single result managed to return with all the keywords ‘wheat residues’ AND ‘Australia’. The study gives minimal information on the general problem of pesticide residue in wheat but rather concentrated on the analysis of organophosphorus pesticide (OPPs) residues in wheat (Du, Ren, & Beckett, 2016). The authors state that pesticides are extensively used in the grain industry in all phases (pre- and post-harvest), and the resulting residues in food can be hazardous to man. The authors focus on OPPs, and they claim that these chemicals have the potential of causing both acute and chronic health problems. OPPs are commonly used in Australia and other developing nations due to their affordability (Johnstone, 2006). Despite the fact that OPPs undergo rapid degradation upon exposure to sunlight and air, low levels of the same are also known to pose a risk to human health (Du, Ren, & Beckett, 2016). For the study, the authors concentrated on the analytical methods for the determination of residual levels of OPPs residue in wheat.
The determination of pesticide residue in foods is a key requirement not only for the authorities in charge of food quality control but also for consumers and producers (Aguilera, Brotons, Rodríguez, & Valverde, 2003). Pesticides used in the preservation of produce in pre- and post-harvest can leave potentially harmful residues. Studies conducted in other countries on pesticide residues in wheat. For instance, a study conducted in India indicate the presence of organophosphates, organochlorines, and synthetic pyrethroids above the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) (Jagadish, Jaylakshmi, & Sreeramulu, 2015). Literature evidence shows that there are irrefutable laboratory and epidemiological evidence linking some pesticides with neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, carcinogenesis, respiratory diseases (asthma included), endocrine disruption, reproductive dysfunction and behavioural impairment (Jagadish et al., 2015). The presence of pesticide residuals in wheat, pulses, and rice is claimed to be one of the major routes of human exposure to organochlorine (OC) pesticides. OCs have been largely banned since they are highly persistent insecticides whose residues are classified as pollutants in both food and the environment (European Community, 1990).
Assessment of Pesticides Residue in Wheat Crop in Western Australia.
As per the Western Australia Department of Health report on the management of pesticides in Western Australia, the region has a problem of pesticide residue as evidenced by the report’s findings in which fruits and vegetables were found to be having residues levels which were ten times more than the acceptable national average of 1% (Garnet, 2015). This is a clear indicator that pesticide residue is a potential problem in Australia. Regardless of the inadequate Australian evidence on the existence of the same problem in wheat and other grains, the problem cannot be overlooked as there are reports all worldwide which acknowledge pesticide residue in wheat as a problem. Worse still, some of these reports involve Australian wheat, for instance, the fenitrothion scare from wheat that India imported from Australia. When under storage, Australia’s wheat is often treated with fenitrothion. There have been cases in which the residues of the chemical have been detected to be above the maximum residue limit for some countries e.g. in India’s case who detection led to a disruption of trade (Garnet, 2015). Pesticide residue in food produce (wheat products in this case) is a concern in both Europe (European Food Safety Authority, 2017) and the US (US Food and Drug Administration, 2003). Therefore, the same cannot be overlooked in Australia.
Research Hypothesis
Wheat from Western Australia contains pesticide residuals particularly organophosphorus and organochlorine above the nationwide permissible levels.
Study design
The study adopts an experimental design in which wheat from the most recent harvest from different local farmers in Western Australia will be tested for pesticide residues.
Sampling technique
The study will utilise 60 samples. 45 samples will be randomly sampled from 45 farms out of the WA’s 4,000 wheat farms (Department of Agriculture and Food, 2017) while the remainder will be collected from different wholesale and retail markets in WA. Samples to be collected only from local produce, while the imported ones will be excluded from the study.
Data collection
The samples will be analysed in the lab for organophosphorus and organochlorine pesticides by gas chromatography.
Statistical analysis
The study will adopt an analysis of variance (ANOVA) as the method of statistical analysis to examine the differences between observations of the samples.
Ethics application
The student will submit this application to the university’s research committee and respective committees at the Department of Agriculture and Food.
Limitations of the study
The study is limited in aspects that include:

The study sample is insignificant compared to the entire population.
The study duration is also limited as the samples collected are only from a single harvest.
The analysis is also limited to the availability of the equipment and personnel.

Significance of the study
The study will help highlight the prevalence of problem (presence of pesticide residue in wheat) and thus serve as a call to concerned authorities to address the same.
Justification of proposed synopsis
Justification for the study design
This study adopts an experimental design involving lab methods. To determine whether the problem really exists of wheat in the country having residual pesticides will call for evidence of the same. The only way to obtain such evidence is to conduct chemical tests in the laboratory. Samples will be collected and then tested using standard laboratory procedures and methods for gas chromatography.
The experimental design is preferred as its suitable for robustly answering the posed research questions. The study seeks to establish the existence of the problem, and this can be best done using evidence collected through experimentation. An experimental design helps in determining whether a cause and effect relationship exists. Rockinson-szapkiw, (2012) justifies this by claiming that opposed to an observational study design, the experimental design allows the researcher to manipulate the variables in order to determine the variance between the variables and their associations. A lab experiment, in this case, will facilitate in the quantification of the existence of the problem.
Justification for the sampling technique
Samples for the study will be randomly collected. Using simple random sampling, the samples will be collected from 45 farmers. To collect the sample, the 4,000 farms will be assigned numbers, the researcher will then find random numbers and select them as the sample. The collection must be done as per lab guidelines to ensure their integrity is maintained. A random sample design is preferred since the study population (4,000 farms) is too large to be studied in its entirety.  Simple random sampling gives each of the study units an equal chance to be included in the study (Bryman, 2012).
Justification for the choice of data collection method
The collected samples will be analysed using gas chromatograph. The method is preferred because the study involves analytical chemistry. Gas chromatography facilitates the separation and analysis of compounds that can be vaporised without decomposition. Gas chromatography is best suited in testing the purity of a substance, such as in the case of this study (Pavia, 2005)
Justification for ANOVA analysis
Statistical analysis will be performed using ANOVA. This helps illustrate any difference between the samples collected on the variable under study.
Justification for Human Research Ethics Committee
The application will not be submitted to any human research ethic committee but rather submitted to the university’s research committee. There is no need for the human research ethic committee as it is provided in the provisions by the Government of Western Australia Department of Health (2017), the committee has oversight and responsibility over the use of personal health information, which will not be in the case of this study.
Aguilera, A., Brotons, M., Rodríguez, M., & Valverde, A. (2003). Supercritical Fluid Extraction of Pesticides from a Table-Ready Food Composite of Plant Origin (Gazpacho). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 51(19), 5616–5621. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf030233k
Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods. Oxford University Press.
Deloitte. (2013). Economic activity attributable to crop protection products CropLife Australia. Sydney.
Department of Agriculture and Food. (2017). Western Australian wheat industry. Retrieved May 24, 2017, from https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/grains-research-development/western-australian-wheat-industry
Du, X. in, Ren, Y., & Beckett, S. J. (2016). An Innovative Rapid Method for Analysis of 10 Organophosphorus Pesticide Residues in Wheat by HS-SPME-GC-FPD/MSD. Journal of AOAC International, 99(2), 520–526. https://doi.org/10.5740/jaoacint.15-0062
European Community. (1990). EC Council Directive 90/642/EEC of 27 November 1990 on the fixing of maximum levels for pesticide residues in and on fruit and vegetables. Official J. the European Communities, L350, 71.
European Food Safety Authority. (2017). The 2015 European Union report on pesticide residues in food. EFSA Journal, 15(4), 1–134. https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2017.4791
Garnet, O. (2015). Pesticide residue report not cause for health safety concern: department of health. Retrieved May 24, 2017, from https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2015-07-02/pesticide-residue-report-concerns-apple-industry/6589346
Gianessi, L., & Williams, A. (2011). Herbicides are Key for Wheat Farming in Australia International Pesticide Benefits Case Study No. 42, November 2011, (42), 20005.
Hall, L., & Campden, C. (2006). M o n i t o r i n g t h e q u a l i t y a n d s a f e t y o f g r a i n a n d g r a i n – d e r i v e d c o – p r o d u c t s d e s t i n e d f o r a n i m a l f e e d by, (387).
Jagadish, G. K., Jaylakshmi, s. K., & Sreeramulu, K. (2015). Evaluation of pesticide residue in rice, wheat and pulses of Bidar district Karnataka, India, 3(September), 100–106.
Johnstone, K. (2006). Organophosphate Exposure in Australian Agricultural Workers: Human Exposure and Risk. Queensland University of Technology.
Pavia, D. L. (2005). Introduction to organic laboratory techniques: a small-scale approach (2nd ed.). Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Radcliffe, J. C. (2002). Pesticide Use in Australia – A review undertaken by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences. Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. Victoria: aml publishing.
Rockinson-szapkiw, A. J. (2012). Step 4: Selecting and Justifying Your Research Design. Amanda J. Rockinson-Szapkiw.
SAS Institute Inc. (2005). Concepts of experimental design. Biostatistics for Animal …, 34.
US Food and Drug Administration. (2003). Food and Drug Administration Pesticide Program: 17th Annual Report – Residue Monitoring 2003. Silver Spring.

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