Tousignant looks at data on toxics and notes it has been growing (albeit slowly). The data on accidental and voluntary acute poisonings have been compiled from hospital or clinical records.
She notes that most international initiatives do not directly support the production of data on pathways, levels, and distributions of exposure but rather, generally address the already known sources of risk (E.g. promoting safer techniques of mercury use without investigating exposure).
Tousignant notes that the Sahelian ecotoxicology’s methodological and institutional infrastructures were entangled in justifications for prolonging the project and in the project practices for accumulating data and making it usable over time.
Tousignant notes: “Presumably only the best (or favorite) pharmacy students were given access to project machines and lab supplies for their thesis work; the majority had to make do with bibliographic essays, or compilations of clinical data and questionnaire results.” She includes in a footnote: “Only a small fraction of thesis research involved laboratory analysis, however. A few theses were bibliographic essays on specific toxic risks or analytical methods, while the majority involved “paper-based” research, that is, involving the collection and analysis of existing data (such as information in clinical registers) or of responses to questionnaires (for example, on knowledge and practices pertaining to toxic risks such as pesticide use among farmers).” The data they are working with appears to largely be quantitative data.
Tousignant notes that her interlocutors highlighted the need to generate their own data: “the CAP’s statistician explained to me that poison, as a cause of morbidity and mortality, was not (yet) a category in national health statistics. Poisoning might be recorded in clinical registers, but not always, and was not an accurate reflection of the causes and magnitude of the problem. It was important, then, for the center to generate its own data.
Excerpt from interlocutor: “We need to collect data on the causal link between poisoning and pesticides [...] we have to create an observatory, for long-term follow-up [...] when you ask for money, you don’t ask for the minimum. We already know there are problems with the use of pesticides [...] we need to get blood samples, we need to get a spectro[photometer] and reagents [...] we need field testing kits [...] we need a sociologist too [...] An epidemiological study for 2.5 million [CFA francs]?... We need 25 million! [...] We need data! [...] We will do everything. We will follow, in a month, in a year... [...] We need right away to put in study and analyses. We have to follow up on a long period.” (Chapter 5)