Neurologic Symptoms in Licensed Private Pesticide Applicators in the Agricultural Health Study

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.
Environmental Health Perspectives (Impact Factor: 7.98). 07/2005; 113(7):877-82. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.7645
Source: PubMed


Exposure to high levels of many pesticides has both acute and long-term neurologic consequences, but little is known about the neurotoxicity of chronic exposure to moderate levels of pesticides. We analyzed cross-sectional data from 18,782 white male licensed private pesticide applicators enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study in 1993-1997. Applicators provided information on lifetime pesticide use and 23 neurologic symptoms typically associated with pesticide intoxication. An indicator of more symptoms (> or = 10 vs. < 10) during the year before enrollment was associated with cumulative lifetime days of insecticide use: odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) were 1.64 (1.36-1.97) for 1-50 days, 1.89 (1.58-2.25) for 51-500 days, and 2.50 (2.00-3.13) for > 500 days, compared with never users. A modest association for fumigants [> 50 days, 1.50 (1.24-1.81)] and weaker relationships for herbicides [> 500 days, 1.32 (0.99-1.75)] and fungicides [> 50 days, 1.23 (1.00-1.50)] were observed. Pesticide use within the year before enrollment was not associated with symptom count. Only associations with insecticides and fumigants persisted when all four pesticide groups were examined simultaneously. Among chemical classes of insecticides, associations were strongest for organophosphates and organochlorines. Associations with cumulative exposure persisted after excluding individuals who had a history of pesticide poisoning or had experienced an event involving high personal pesticide exposure. These results suggest that self-reported neurologic symptoms are associated with cumulative exposure to moderate levels of fumigants and organophosphate and organochlorine insecticides, regardless of recent exposure or history of poisoning.

Download full-text


Available from: Michael C Alavanja, Oct 05, 2015
20 Reads
    • "Organophosphate (OP) compounds are extensively used as pesticides and industrial chemicals. They are primarily neurotoxic and produce well-defined muscarinic, nicotinic, and cholinergic neurosymptoms involving both central and peripheral nervous systems.[1–3] Increases in both central and peripheral neurologic symptoms are also found in many studies on moderate exposure.[4] "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Pesticides are used extensively throughout the world in agriculture and in pest control as well as for community health purposes. Organophosphate (OP) pesticide self-poisoning is an important clinical problem in rural regions of the developing world that kills an estimated 200,000 people every year. Unintentional poisoning kills far fewer people but is an apparent problem in places where highly toxic OP pesticides are available. Neurologic dysfunction is the best documented health effect of pesticide exposure. High-level exposure has both acute and long-term neurologic signs and symptoms, and adverse effects have been reported in most type of pesticides, including organophosphate (OP), carbamate, organochlorine, and pyrethroid insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fumigants. Acute OP pesticide exposure can involve in wide range of both central and peripheral neurologic symptoms. Increased neurologic symptom prevalence may provide early evidence of neurologic dysfunctions, before clinically measurable signs are evident. In this study, we analyzed the cross-sectional data on neurologic signs and symptoms from 225 rural children, both males (n = 132) and females (n = 93) who were occupationally and paraoccupationally exposed to methyl OPs (dichlorvos, fenthion, malathion, methyl parathion) and ethyl OPs (chlorpyrifos, diazinon, ethyl parathion) as they belonged to agricultural families handling, mixing, and spraying the OP pesticides. The children completed a specially designed questionnaire (Q16) on neurologic symptoms associated with pesticide exposure with their parental help. A suitable reference group consisting of rural children (n = 50) never involved in pesticide handling (neither outdoor nor indoor) belonging to similar socioeconomic strata included in the study to compare the prevalence of various neurologic symptoms between the two groups. Among all the neurologic self-reported symptoms, headache, watering in eyes, and burning sensation in eye/face were the most important clinical manifestations attributed to OP pesticide exposure. These symptoms could probably be the consequence of chronic effects of most pesticides on the central nervous system. The muscarinic symptoms reported the maximum prevalence of salivation (18.22%), whereas lacrimation was observed in 17.33% cases, followed by diarrhea in 9.33% cases. The nicotinic clinical manifestations of acute OP poisoning revealed excessive sweating in 13.78% cases and tremors in 9.3% cases followed by mydriasis in 8.4% exposed children. The characteristic cholinergic symptoms, such as insomnia, headache, muscle cramps, weakness, and anorexia were also reported by both male and female exposed children. The high frequency of neurologic symptoms observed in the study may be due to parasympathetic hyperactivity due to the accumulated ACh resulting from AChE inhibition.
    Indian journal of occupational and environmental medicine 08/2010; 14(2):54-7. DOI:10.4103/0019-5278.72242
  • Source
    • "Mild intoxication can also induce COPIND, farm workers with mild OP pesticides intoxication requiring no hospitalization performed worse on tests of cognitive and psychomotor function compared with non-poisoned workers 2 years post-exposure. During the process of the trough dipping of sheep with insecticide, workers exposed to OP compound developed greater vulnerability to psychiatric disorders, such as significant anxiety and depression (Jamal et al., 2002; Kamel et al., 2005). Interestingly, an epidemiological study from Spain revealed a link between exposure to organophosphates and increased suicidal rate (Parrón et al., 1996). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In this paper we review neurotoxic disorders appearing in patients poisoned with organophosphorus pesticides. These compounds cause four important neurotoxic effects in humans: the cholinergic syndrome, the intermediate syndrome, organophosphate-induced delayed polyneuropathy (OPIDP) and chronic organophosphate-induced neuropsychiatric disorder (COPIND). Compared to the cholinergic syndrome, that causes millions of cases of poisoning each year, other disorders involve much smaller numbers of patients. The review is focused on the neurotoxic effects appearing after acute and chronic exposure to organophosphates with emphasis on clinical presentation, pathogenesis, molecular mechanisms, and possibilities for prevention/therapy.
    05/2010; 29(3):195-201. DOI:10.1016/j.etap.2010.01.006
  • Source
    • "In this review we focused on epidemiologic studies of pesticide exposure and cancer incidence in the AHS cohort. Studies of physical injury (Sprince et al. 2002, 2003a, 2003b, 2003c, 2007), mortality (Blair et al. 2005a, 2005b; Lee et al. 2007a), respiratory disorders (Hoppin et al. 2002a, 2006a, 2006b, 2007a, 2007b, 2008; Valcin et al. 2007), neurologic symptoms (Kamel et al. 2005, 2007a), retinal degeneration (Kamel et al. 2000; Kirrane et al. 2005), diabetes (Montgomery et al. 2008; Saldana et al. 2007), menstrual cycle characteristics (Farr et al. 2004, 2006), hearing loss (Crawford et al. 2008), Parkinson's disease (Kamel et al. 2007b), changes in serum androgen levels (Martin et al. 2002), arthritis (De Roos et al. 2005b), depression (Beseler et al. 2006, 2008), and immune "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We reviewed epidemiologic evidence related to occupational pesticide exposures and cancer incidence in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) cohort. Studies were identified from the AHS publication list available at as well as through a Medline/PubMed database search in March 2009. We also examined citation lists. Findings related to lifetime-days and/or intensity-weighted lifetime-days of pesticide use are the primary focus of this review, because these measures allow for the evaluation of potential exposure-response relationships. We reviewed 28 studies; most of the 32 pesticides examined were not strongly associated with cancer incidence in pesticide applicators. Increased rate ratios (or odds ratios) and positive exposure-response patterns were reported for 12 pesticides currently registered in Canada and/or the United States (alachlor, aldicarb, carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, dicamba, S-ethyl-N,N-dipropylthiocarbamate, imazethapyr, metolachlor, pendimethalin, permethrin, trifluralin). However, estimates of association for specific cancers were often imprecise because of small numbers of exposed cases, and clear monotonic exposure-response patterns were not always apparent. Exposure misclassification is also a concern in the AHS and may limit the analysis of exposure-response patterns. Epidemiologic evidence outside the AHS remains limited with respect to most of the observed associations, but animal toxicity data support the biological plausibility of relationships observed for alachlor, carbaryl, metolachlor, pendimethalin, permethrin, and trifluralin. Continued follow-up is needed to clarify associations reported to date. In particular, further evaluation of registered pesticides is warranted.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 05/2010; 118(8):1117-25. DOI:10.1289/ehp.0901731 · 7.98 Impact Factor
Show more