ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Abstract

Every year, Brazil intensifies its activity in agriculture and, as a result, it has become one of the biggest consumers of pesticides in the world. The high rate of these substances raises environmental and human health concerns. Therefore, we collected papers from PubMed, Scopus, Scielo, and Web of Science databases, from 2015 to 2021. After a blind selection using the software Rayyan QCRI by two authors, 51 studies were included. Researchers from the South and the Southeast Brazilian regions contributed to most publications, from areas that concentrate agricultural commodity complexes. Among the pesticides described in the studies, insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides were the most frequent. The articles reported multiple toxic effects, particularly in rural workers. The results obtained can be used to direct policies to reduce the use of pesticides, and to protect the health of the population.
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Citation: Lopes-Ferreira, M.; Maleski,
A.L.A.; Balan-Lima, L.; Bernardo,
J.T.G.; Hipolito, L.M.; Seni-Silva, A.C.;
Batista-Filho, J.; Falcao, M.A.P.; Lima,
C. Impact of Pesticides on Human
Health in the Last Six Years in Brazil.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,
19, 3198. https://doi.org/10.3390/
ijerph19063198
Academic Editors: Mark Gregory
Robson and Jose V. Tarazona
Received: 30 November 2021
Accepted: 28 January 2022
Published: 9 March 2022
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International Journal of
Environmental Research
and Public Health
Review
Impact of Pesticides on Human Health in the Last Six Years
in Brazil
Monica Lopes-Ferreira 1, *, Adolfo Luis Almeida Maleski 1,2 , Leticia Balan-Lima 1,
Jefferson Thiago Gonçalves Bernardo 1, Lucas Marques Hipolito 1, Ana Carolina Seni-Silva 1,2 ,
Joao Batista-Filho 1,2 , Maria Alice Pimentel Falcao 1and Carla Lima 1
1Immunoregulation Unit of the Laboratory of Applied Toxinology (CeTICs/FAPESP), Butantan Institute,
Vital Brazil Avenue, 1500, Butantan, São Paulo 05503-009, Brazil;
adolfo.maleski@esib.butantan.gov.br (A.L.A.M.); leticia.lima@esib.butantan.gov.br (L.B.-L.);
jefferson.bernardo@butantan.gov.br (J.T.G.B.); lucas-mh@hotmail.com (L.M.H.);
anasenicarolina@gmail.com (A.C.S.-S.); jooaobsf@gmail.com (J.B.-F.);
maria.falcao@esib.butantan.gov.br (M.A.P.F.); carla.lima@butantan.gov.br (C.L.)
2Post-Graduation Program of Toxinology, Butantan Institute, São Paulo 05503-009, Brazil
*Correspondence: monica.lopesferreira@butantan.gov.br
Abstract:
Every year, Brazil intensifies its activity in agriculture and, as a result, it has become
one of the biggest consumers of pesticides in the world. The high rate of these substances raises
environmental and human health concerns. Therefore, we collected papers from PubMed, Scopus,
Scielo, and Web of Science databases, from 2015 to 2021. After a blind selection using the software
Rayyan QCRI by two authors, 51 studies were included. Researchers from the South and the
Southeast Brazilian regions contributed to most publications, from areas that concentrate agricultural
commodity complexes. Among the pesticides described in the studies, insecticides, herbicides, and
fungicides were the most frequent. The articles reported multiple toxic effects, particularly in rural
workers. The results obtained can be used to direct policies to reduce the use of pesticides, and to
protect the health of the population.
Keywords:
Brazilian scenario; pesticides; industrial agriculture; human health; toxic effects;
rural workers
1. Introduction
Brazil is a country that economically relies on industrial agriculture for the production
of a diverse range of soft commodities for exportation, with 88 million hectares cultivated in
the country [
1
]. Agricultural production accounted for just over 5% of Brazil’s $1.8 trillion
gross domestic product (GDP), with a variety of products from grain and oilseed chains,
meats, sugar, biofuels, and fiber, to fruits and vegetables [
2
,
3
]. The harvested area has
been expanding 23.48% per decade (1930 to 2017), while productivity has increased by
8% per decade, on average. This shows that the agricultural frontiers (agricultural and
livestock activities) continue to expand in the country, mainly in the Amazon and Cerrado
biomes [4].
Considering the increase in agricultural productivity in Brazil and the participation in
the generation of GDP, the increase in agribusiness productivity has not been accompanied
by a reduction in income inequality and poverty. Instead, strong alterations in the organi-
zation and use of the territory and the way of life of social groups in the affected biomes
have been described [
5
]. In 2018, Brazil had 13.5 million people with per capita average
earnings of 1.9 dollars (US$) per day, according to the criterion adopted by the World
Bank to identify extreme poverty conditions. That figure is equivalent to the populations
of Bolivia, Belgium, Cuba, Greece, and Portugal. Although the percentage of people in
extreme poverty conditions has been stable compared to 2017, it increased from 5.8% in
2012 to 6.5% in 2018, a seven-year record [6].
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063198 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 2 of 19
Poverty can be aggravated by the productive agribusiness model that controls its food
systems and its markets [
7
], as opposed to the choice of the food and nutrition security
model that encompasses the realization of the right of everyone to permanently access
quality food in sufficient quantity [
8
]. Consequently, the domestic consumer market may
suffer supply shortages, favoring the export of food commodities. According to the Ministry
of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade, the devaluation of the Brazilian currency has
been strongly increasing the competitiveness of Brazilian commodity exports to 2020, an
increase of 79% year-on-year, and 9.8% more than 2019. From May to July alone, exports
counted 701,061 tons. Meanwhile, the weak currency hindered imports, which totaled
373,557 tons in the period, down 12% year-on-year.
On the other hand, food such as rice, beans, bananas, and tomatoes that supply
urban populations come, in large part, from family production, with huge potential for
polyculture, organic, and agroecological farming. However, this sustainable agriculture
fails to receive governmental support as incentives and subsidies [
9
,
10
] in contrast to the
public policies of the European Union (EU), which aim for 2030 to halve the use of chemical
pesticides and ensure that at least 25% of agricultural lands are set aside for organic farming,
compared with the current 8% [11].
In order to fulfill the demand with a minimum loss, Brazilian commodity producers
employ a large number of pesticides, estimated at 549,280 tons in 2018 [
12
,
13
]. According
to an investigation by Unearthed, more than 1200 pesticides and herbicides, including
193 containing chemicals banned in the EU, have been registered in Brazil between 2016
and 2019. Almost half of all approved products contain active ingredients listed on the
Pesticide Action Network’s list of highly hazardous pesticides, indicating that, in addition
to serious environmental harm, they are related to toxic effects on human health [3,14,15].
Based on scientific evidence, the real risks that pesticides pose to human health
(occupational and consumer exposure) and the environment are fully justified [
16
,
17
]. They
cause health conditions from acute reactions in the skin and respiratory system to chronic
diseases including hematologic and hormonal abnormalities, infertility, miscarriages, fetal
malformation, neurological diseases, and cancer. The underlying mechanisms of these
effects are genotoxic, neurotoxic, and endocrine-disrupting actions [1820].
The worsening of poverty and the loss of guarantee of food security are examples of
the negative socio-economic impact of the massive use of pesticides in Brazil. Of equal
importance are its direct effects on the environment, non-target organisms, and human
health [
21
,
22
]. A substantial task must be carried out by state agencies, non-governmental
organizations, and researchers from universities and institutes to create scientific documen-
tation that guides public policies in the adoption of the highest standards of procedures,
guidelines, and mitigation measures to reduce potential risks to the population [
23
], as well
as initiatives capable of circumventing its social and environmental damage. Therefore,
this work aims to understand the scenario of Brazilian research that portrays the various
toxic effects of pesticides on human health carried out in the last six years.
2. Methods
2.1. Data Sources
Online searches of the published literature within the last six years, 2015 to 2021, were
conducted through the databases SCIELO, SCOPUS, PUBMED, and WEB OF SCIENCE.
On the 8th of March of 2021, we utilized the strategy of search in all these databases using
the terms through the keywords pesticides, humans, and Brazil: ((“pesticides”(MeSH
Terms) OR “pesticides”(All Fields)) OR (“pesticides”(Pharmacological Action) OR “pesti-
cides”(MeSH Terms) OR “pesticides”(All Fields))) AND (“humans”(MeSH Terms) OR “hu-
mans”(All Fields) OR “human”(All Fields)) AND (“brazil”(MeSH Terms) OR “brazil”(All
Fields)) AND (“2015/01/01”(PDAT): “3000/12/31”(PDAT)). All searches together resulted
in 4141 articles that, after evaluation and selection by members of the research team, were
restricted to 51. A full description of the search strategy is provided in Figure 1A.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 3 of 19
Figure 1.
(
A
) Study Flow of selected articles. (
B
) Type of the studies conducted about pesticides in
Brazil between 2015 and March 2021 (8th of March). (
C
) The route of exposure to pesticides were
grouped into three main categories: occupational, environmental, and accidental, as described by the
authors of the articles included in this review.
2.2. Studies Selection
Using the online software Rayyan (http://rayyan.qcri.org/, accessed on 27 January
2022), 381 article duplications were excluded. Two reviewers carried out a double-blind
review and independently screened paper titles, index terms, and abstracts to identify
relevant articles for possible inclusion. The discrepancies were resolved by a third reviewer.
It was used as the first inclusion criteria research developed in Brazil involving pesticides
and articles written in English or Portuguese. Overall, 3603 articles that did not accomplish
these criteria were excluded.
Next, a second round of more solid review was performed with the included articles
where each work was independently read by two different reviewers using a second set
of inclusion criteria, i.e., research developed in Brazil involving pesticides, articles in
English or Portuguese, and research involving direct studies in humans or human cells
exposed to pesticides, including case reports. The articles that did not fit these criteria (106)
were excluded. Thereby, 51 works were selected and evaluated concerning the Brazilian
institutions that published studies about human exposure to pesticides, the number of
articles published per year, the type of study conducted, the regions where the studies
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 4 of 19
were conducted, the variety of crops that humans had contact with, the type of pesticides
exposure evidenced, the effects observed in the exposed populations, the chemical group,
function, and the distribution per region of the different pesticides mainly applied.
3. Results and Discussion
The Brazilian population has been exposed to pesticides used in the production of
commodities directly through dermal, oral, eye perfusion, and respiratory airways (no-
tably rural workers), as well as indirectly through residues consumption in food and
water [
22
,
24
27
]. The Brazilian Association of Collective Health [
28
] estimates that pes-
ticides contaminate approximately 70% of food consumed by Brazilians, and they drink
nearly 7.5 L of pesticides per year—the highest per capita consumption rate in the world.
Another important route of contamination is domestic or occupational exposure to
multiple pesticides during pregnancy, which determines changes in fetal development
and serious complications during childhood [
29
]. Mavoungou et al. [
30
], using data from
the two French national population-based case-control studies, ESCALE (2003–2004) and
ESTELLE (2010–2011), demonstrated a positive correlation between domestic and occupa-
tional exposures to pesticides during pregnancy with both childhood non-Hodgkin and
Hodgkin lymphoma. Moreover, contaminated breast milk leads to pronounced immuno-
logical deficiencies in the newborn, increasing the risks of infections, mainly meningitis
and inner ear infections in infants [31,32].
In 2017, the National Toxic-Pharmacological Information System (SINITOX) reported
2548 cases of pesticides contamination in Brazil [
33
]. Taking into account that pesticide
intoxications are not considered a problem of compulsory notification in Brazil (according
to Ordinance No. 777/GM, 28/04/2014) and that the Ministry of Health itself estimates
that for each notified pesticide intoxication event, there are another 50 unnotified [
34
36
],
human cases of pesticide intoxication is an alarming and neglected health problem in Brazil.
In this context, initiatives have been conducted by groups in some Brazilian research in-
stitutions and governmental and non-governmental organizations to minimize the problem
of deficient notification. Other efforts include expanding the identification of sociodemo-
graphic conditions, the use of personal protective equipment, history of poisoning and
hospitalizations for pesticides, and the existence of primary health care units for rural
workers [3742].
In this work, our purpose was to gather information about studies conducted by
Brazilian research groups over the effects of pesticides on human health in the last six years.
We revised case studies, and cross-sectional and experimental data (Figure 1B) of reported
intoxications in humans derived mainly from occupational (77%) and environmental (21.3%)
repeated exposure to pesticides (Figure 1C).
We found that among the fifty-one articles included in this systematic review, re-
searchers from four of the five Brazilian administrative regions contributed to all publica-
tions, with 23 (46.2%) articles from institutions of the South region and 16 (30.7%) from the
Southeast region, and seven and five (13.5% and 9.6%) articles generated by institutions
from the Northeast and Midwest regions, respectively (Figure 2).
Although articles developed by researchers from institutions of the North region
were not included, Freire, Koifman, and Koifman [
43
] from the National School of Public
Health at Rio de Janeiro detected the presence of 24 types of organochlorine pesticides
in the plasma of 978 adults exposed to different pesticides in Rio Branco, the capital of
Acre (Figure 3). The results of this study highlight the positive association between high
levels of pesticides (beta-HCH, p,p
0
-DDE-1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl) ethylene,
and hexachlorobenzene) in the serum of male adults and alterations in hematological
parameters such as eosinophilia, low hemoglobin content, and erythropenia, and high
levels of liver metabolism enzymes such as bilirubin, glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase,
and glutamic-pyruvic transaminase.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 5 of 19
Figure 2.
Brazilian institutions that published studies about human exposure to pesticides from 2015
to March 2021, classified by regions. The 51 articles included in the systematic review were grouped
according to the research institutions that carried the study.
Figure 3.
Percentage of Brazilian geographical regions where the studies were conducted, from 2015
to March 2021. The 51 articles included in the systematic review were grouped according to the
Brazilian regions where the research was conducted.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 6 of 19
The Amazon region in the states of Acre, Amapá, Rondonia, Tocantins, and Amazonas
has been suffering from deforestation due to many official policies [
44
,
45
], with large natural
areas replaced by monoculture with an indiscriminate spread of pesticides. Soy cultivation
is a major driver of deforestation in the Amazon basin. Seeds from the genetically modified
(GM) soybean plant provide high protein animal feed for livestock, and 80% of Amazon
soy is destined for animal feed; smaller percentages are used for oil or consumption [
46
].
The growing use of the land for monoculture and the consequent application of pesticides
calls for a new direction in research purposes carried out by institutions of this region.
Investigations are required to understand the impact of the growing and indiscriminate
use of pesticides on the health of the Amazon population directly associated with exposure
to pesticides or the use of contaminated water since the region is home to one of the largest
hydrographic basins in the world.
Both surface water and groundwater pollution caused by pesticides are very serious
and cause urgent issues in freshwater and coastal ecosystems worldwide [
47
]. Such pesti-
cide contamination in water not only directly impacts the drinking water quality in local
areas, but also causes indirect impacts by transferring across species, such as in soil and
the food chain. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Develop-
ment (OECD) [
48
], agriculture in the EU contributes 40–80% of total nitrogen and 20–40%
of phosphorus to the pollution of surface waters. The United States Geological Survey
(USGS) found several pesticides in more than 90% of water and fish samples collected from
United States (US) streams [
49
]. Brazilian studies indicate that pesticide contamination had
been reported in surface water, in levels exceeding the national standard, varying in the
different seasons.
de Castro Lima et al. [
50
] confirmed the presence of high levels of four herbicides
(
2,4-D
, atrazine, deethyl-atrazine, and simazine), three fungicides (carbendazim, tebu-
conazole, and epoxiconazole), and one insecticide (imidacloprid) in the water of Guaporé
River, in the Rio Grande do Sul and its tributaries, that irrigate soybean, corn, and winter
cereals crops and grassland forage production region. In addition, water samples col-
lected in the river banks in the area of an agricultural project in Formoso do Araguaia
city, Tocantins demonstrated levels of substances with potential for groundwater contam-
ination such as clomazone (0.376
µ
g
·
L
1
), fluazifop-p-butyl (<0.020
µ
g
·
L
1
), flutolanil
(
<0.020 µg·L1
), metsulfuron-methyl (<0.020
µ
g
·
L
1
), propanil (<0.006
µ
g
·
L
1
), and imi-
dacloprid (0.065 µg·L1) [51].
These measures, added to the analysis of pesticide residues in human tissues and sam-
ples corroborate the guidelines stipulated by the OECD (Pesticide Assessment and Testing
Project, 2013) [
48
], which recommend the application of a systematic assessment of environ-
mental and social risks. The dosage of pesticides or their metabolites in human samples,
such as hair and blood collected from workers in the South and Southeast regions of Brazil,
has been evaluated. The results demonstrated the presence of arsenic (
3.776 µg·L1
), nickel
(2.686
µ
g
·
L
1
), manganese (2.048
µ
g
·
L
1
), zinc (1.442
µ
g
·
L
1
), and cooper (1.939
µ
g
·
L
1
) as
a predictive risk factor for the development of disorders associated with chronic exposure
to pesticides [
52
54
]. Moreover, monitoring systems to identify the spatial distribution
of the planted area of crops, consumption of pesticides, and health problems related to
chronic occupational exposition in Brazil have been carried out [
55
61
] with the purpose to
integrate data on exposure to pesticides to social, economic, and environmental conditions,
and to identify the bottlenecks in the control of the indiscriminate use of various pesticides.
The data from these articles confirmed a positive correlation between the use of million
liters of pesticides sprayed on soybean, corn, and sugarcane crops with the development
of health problems in Mato Grosso, Paraná, and Rio Grande Sul, areas that concentrate
agricultural commodity complexes.
As demonstrated in the review, these data corroborate the previous survey performed
between 2012 and 2014 by Bombardi [
62
] that showed Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul,
Goiás, and São Paulo as the significant consumers of pesticides in Brazil (44–92% more than
the national average). Since then, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture [
3
,
23
],
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 7 of 19
records of new pesticides approved in 2019 are the highest in the historical data series. The
average approval of new pesticides has been more than one per day. This is indicative
that with access to new types and formulations [
63
,
64
], the number of tons of pesticides
sprayed in the conventional or GM crops will be intensified, reinforcing the establishment
of policies of continuous monitoring of pesticides in the environment by government
agencies to maintain an updated inventory on the effects of contamination over non-target
organisms and the environment.
Then, we analyzed the correlation between the toxic effects described in the articles
reviewed with the most prevalent crops in Brazilian regions. Our data show a direct
relationship with the agricultural production in each Brazilian region. Figure 4A shows
that 14.3% of the articles reported the use of pesticides in the cultivation of tobacco, and
7.9% and 4.8% each in the cultivation of soy and grape, followed by 3.2% of articles related
to the use of pesticides in banana, tomato, and peach crops. Crops such as kiwi, plum,
apple, coffee, orange, flowers, persimmon, strawberry, and other vegetables corresponded
to 19% of the articles. Moreover, 47.6% of the articles report the use of pesticides in various
crops without specifically naming them, but it can be interpreted based on the crop profile
of each region. In Figure 5, we observed an overlapping of data with the different cultures
in each region in Brazil.
In 2019, the Midwest and Southeast regions of Brazil equally reached the highest value
of agricultural commodity production (30%), followed by the South region with 28% and
the North and Northeast regions with equal production of 6% [
65
]. In all major regions, the
main product was soy, except for the Southeast region, which has sugar cane as the highest
crop produced. Further, soybean (34.8%), sugar cane (15.2%), corn (13.2%), coffee (4.9%),
and cotton (4.4%) represent, in this order, the commodities most produced by Brazilian
regions. Taken together, these data show the amplitude of pesticide contamination to
agribusiness workers as well as familiar agriculture in these regions since those are very
pesticide-demanding practices [37,38,42,66].
Pesticides are classified according to the type of activity/target organism and to the
chemical nature as insecticides (chlorinated hydrocarbons, organophosphates, carbamates–
insecticides, and pyrethroids); fungicides and bactericides (dithiocarbamates, benzimida-
zoles, triazoles diazoles, and diazines morpholines); and herbicides (phenoxy hormone
products to control growth and division like triazines, amides, carbamates-herbicides,
dinitroanilines, urea derivatives, sulfonyl urea, bipyridyls, and uracil) among others [13].
Analyzing the type of pesticides, we found that most articles in this review describe
toxic effects related to exposure to insecticides (31%), followed by fungicides (28%), her-
bicides (25%), and pesticides (generic name, 9%). Acaricides represented 3% of the ar-
ticles, and 4% describe the toxic effects induced by nematicides, bactericides, cupini-
cides, and growth regulators together (Figure 4B). Our data corroborate the findings that
show organophosphate Glyphosate-based herbicides as the world’s leading post-emergent,
broad-spectrum, and non-selective herbicides for the control of annual and perennial
weeds [6769].
Glyphosate is the most sold active ingredient in Brazil, with 195,056 tons commercial-
ized in 2018 [
70
]. It was recently reclassified by ANVISA (Brazilian Health Surveillance
Agency, 2018) as class III, hazardous for the environment. In Brazil, the 65
µ
g
·
L
1
maxi-
mum limit concentration in superficial waters was determined by the National Council of
Environment- Conama by resolutions #357/2005 and #20/1986. According to the Brazil-
ian Ministry of Health Ordinance #518/2004, the maximum permissible concentration of
Glyphosate in drinking water destined for human consumption is 500
µ
g
·
L
1
[
71
], sim-
ilar to the high concentrations set by Environmental Protection Agencies in the United
States [
72
], European Union [
73
], and Australia [
74
], where limits for drinking water are
700 µg·L1, 0.1 µg·L1, and 1000 µg·L1, respectively.
This problem has been reported in Brazil [
75
,
76
]. de Castro Lima et al. [
50
] shows
that the use of pesticides in rural catchments leads to the contamination of surrounding
water resources. They described that 17 out of 18 water samples from the South region
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 8 of 19
were contaminated with at least one pesticide (atrazine, simazine, propoxur, imidaclo-
prid, carbendazim, azoxystrobin, thiamethoxam, fipronil, propiconazole, tebuconazole,
and carbofuran).
Figure 4.
Percentage of the different crops and function of pesticides described in the articles between
2015 and March 2021. The studies included in the systematic review were grouped according to
(
A
) the type of crops that humans had contact with. The majority of the studies (47.6%) include
different types of plantations such as vegetables and cereals, a classic sign of polyculture activity
present in Brazil. (
B
) Function described by the authors or the pesticide package leaflet. Some of
the chemicals mentioned have more than one function described; therefore, they were included in
different categories.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 9 of 19
Figure 5.
Geographic distribution by percentage of the different crops described in the articles
between 2015 and March 2021. The 51 studies included in the systematic review were grouped
according to the type of crops and distributed according to the region’s occurrence in the percentage
of total crops. The southern and southeastern regions of Brazil have a greater variety of monoculture
plantations, while in other regions, polyculture stands out.
Unfortunately, the establishment of high concentration limits in water for human
consumption to substances with a good toxicological understanding by the environmental
protection agencies in the main American countries (Brazil, United States, and Canada) does
not follow the precautionary principle. On the contrary, in the EU, environmental regulation
is required to fulfill the principles established in Article 174 of the EU Treaty, so it offers
a high level of protection and is consistent with the precautionary principle. Pesticides
in drinking water are regulated in the EU by the Drinking Water Directive (Directive
98/83/EC), with value of 2.5
µ
g
·
L
1
for Bisphenol-A, as benchmark. The parametric
values laid down in this Directive are based on the scientific knowledge available and
the precautionary principle, and are selected to ensure that water intended for human
consumption can be consumed safely on a life-long basis, thus ensuring a high level of
health protection.
Numerous
in vivo
studies (reviewed by Disner et al. [
77
]) have recursively proven
that exposure to pesticides, either isolated or in combination [
78
], affect human health
due to their actions as carcinogens [
79
84
], neurotoxicants [
85
88
], endocrine disruptors,
developmental toxicants [8992], and metabolic toxicants [93,94].
The impact on human health of environmental exposures is a challenge due the
variability in time and space, which makes it difficult to delineate their potential harmful
on the cellular, organ, and organism level. The articles selected here reported multiple toxic
effects of pesticides, particularly inflicting rural workers, inducing from hematological
abnormalities, DNA damage, and cell death to excessive salivation, skin and eye irritations,
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 10 of 19
pain, altered hormone levels, infertility, miscarriages and fetal malformation, neurological
symptoms, such as tremors and fatigue, hearing loss, psychiatric effects and suicides,
neurodegenerative diseases, effects on muscular and cardiac systems, development of
related metabolic diseases, including overweight, underweight, insulin resistance and even
diabetes, and various types of cancer (Figure 6).
Figure 6.
The repertoire of effects observed in the studied populations exposed to pesticides. Illus-
tration of the types of harmful effects on humans involved in the studies caused by the exposure to
different types of pesticide mentioned in the articles. All the effects were cited at least once, with
most of the effects being associated and mentioned in different studies.
The studies revealed that the most evident effect was genotoxicity, altering the metabolic
and oxidative pathways and provoking DNA damage and epigenetic changes. Moreover,
the intricacy of pesticide’s metabolic characteristic is augmented by co-exposition to other
intoxicants that increased or decreased enzymes implicated in metabolism [
84
,
95
105
]
However, it is noteworthy that, despite these findings, environmental exposure is not
an isolated factor for these diseases. It can act as a catalyst or summative factor to pre-
existing conditions such as: unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, tobacco smoking, and
alcohol drinking.
According to Smith et al. [
106
], carcinogens generally exhibit more than 1 of the 10 main
characteristics, such as genotoxicity, alteration of DNA repair systems or genomic instability,
operate as electrophiles directly with or after metabolic activation, cause oxidative stress
and chronic inflammation, immunosuppression, control of actions mediated by the receptor,
induce immortalization or modify cell growth, induce cell death, or block the supply of
nutrients and cause epigenetic changes [
56
,
80
,
82
,
83
,
107
109
]. Therefore, DNA damage and
epigenetic alterations caused by chronic exposure to multiple pesticides are directly related
to the development of several diseases, including different types of cancer.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 11 of 19
Pesticides may cause a transient or permanent alteration of the immune system, lead-
ing to higher risks for chronic health disorders, including hematological and immune
alterations such as inflammation and cytokine modulation [
98
,
110
113
]. Recently, the
intestinal microbiota has emerged as a notable factor regulating pesticides’ toxicity. Gi-
ambòet al. [
114
] propose that pesticides can disrupt the typical composition and func-
tionality of the gut microbiome, leading to significant metabolic imbalances, especially in
glycolipid metabolism. On the other hand, the bacterial community responds to pesticide
toxicity by promoting the growth of bacterial strains most involved in the detoxification
mechanisms of these chemical compounds.
A very interesting view is that the epithelial barrier integrity in the airways, gut, and
esophagus, essential for homeostasis control, can be affected by multiple environmental
toxic agents, such as pesticides. Akdis [
115
] proposes that the increase in agents that damage
the epithelial barrier underlies not only the development of allergy and autoimmune
conditions in barrier-damaged tissues but also a wide range of diseases in which an immune
response to commensal bacteria and opportunistic pathogens occurs. The development
of permeable epithelial barriers leads to microbial dysbiosis and bacterial translocation to
interepithelial and subepithelial areas, and the development of tissue microinflammation.
Notably, the microbial-mediated effects potentially modulate the course of the neurological
disorders which display a chronic state of inflammation in the periphery as well as in the
brain [
116
], providing an opportunity to intensify public policies in adopting the highest
standards of measures to reduce the risks of pesticides for the population.
Data from hematological tests of rural workers from the Southeast and South Brazilian
regions exposed to organochlorines (OCs) and dithiocarbamate pesticides show hematolog-
ical alterations, such as neutrophilia [
117
] or leucopenia [
118
,
119
]. The impact of chronic
exposure to multiple pesticides was described in the immune response, showing in the
plasma of exposed farmers compared to controls increased levels of the pro-inflammatory
cytokines such IL-6 [
105
] and IL-1
β
and TNF-
α
[
120
], and augmented levels of C3, a key
component in complement activation, amplification, and effector generation [119].
Pesticides may adversely affect hematopoietic tissue and liver functions in populations
chronically exposed to high levels of these compounds [
121
]. Some experimental studies
by Brazilian groups corroborate the evidence for pesticide hepatotoxicity, disrupting bio-
chemical parameters, and antioxidant capacity. Soybean farmers in southern Brazil during
high pesticide exposure periods presented lower butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), increased
aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) activities,
as well as high levels of urea and creatinine in the blood [122,123].
Lermen et al. [
124
] described the hepatotoxic effect in farmers who grow citrus in
the Vale do Caí, in the Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil. Freire, Koifman, and Koif-
man [
43
], besides observing eosinophilia, low hemoglobin levels, and low erythrocyte
count among residents in an area heavily contaminated with OCs, detected high levels of
bilirubin, glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase (GOT), glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (GPT),
and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT). Moreover, alterations of renal functions were
evidenced in children from a tobacco-producing region [66,125].
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) comprise a group of compounds that have
been examined extensively due to the potential detrimental effects on human health.
Animal and
in vitro
studies support the conclusion that endocrine-disruptors affect the
hormone-dependent pathways responsible for male and female gonadal development [
126
],
either through direct interaction with hormone receptors or via epigenetic and cell-cycle reg-
ulatory modes of action. In humans, most studies point to an association between exposure
to EDCs and male or female reproduction systems disorders, such as infertility, endometrio-
sis, breast cancer, testicular cancer, or low quality or dysfunctional sperm [8992].
The OCs and organophosphorus (OPs) are examples of pesticides with endocrine-
disrupting properties. Moreover, the toxic effects they induce on the human reproductive
system are directly related to the dose, the frequency of exposure, the route of exposure, and
the genotypic characteristics of the affected populations [
127
]. Chronic exposure to OPs can
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 12 of 19
be monitored by assessing plasma cholinesterase identified as a marker [
122
,
124
,
125
,
128
].
The occupational exposure of adults to pesticides such as parathion and methyl parathion
increases the risk of morphological abnormalities in the sperm, including a decline in
sperm count, a decreased percentage of viable sperms, and a reduction in the seminal
volume [129,130].
The impact of pesticides on human thyroid functions, essential in the growth and
development of children and adolescents, weight, memory, regulation of menstrual cycles,
fertility, concentration, mood, and emotional control was recently investigated in soybean
farmers in southern Brazil. Low levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and increased
levels of total triiodothyronine (TT3) and free thyroxine (FT4) were detected by Bernieri
et al. [
122
]. Furthermore, Cremonese et al. [
131
] described altered sperm morphology, high
sperm count, and low luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin levels in young rural men
with poorer backgrounds relative to urban subjects. Santos et al. [
132
] found positive associ-
ations of lifetime years of agricultural work with reduced total thyroxine (T4) and increased
male testosterone; and of lifetime agricultural work and use of various pesticide classes
(i.e., insecticides, herbicides, organophosphate insecticides, dithiocarbamate fungicides,
and pyrethroids), mancozeb (fungicide), and paraquat.
Interestingly, prenatal exposure to OPs in humans has a greater impact on fetal growth
and development in early childhood [
133
]. Prenatal indoor exposure to pesticides (e.g.,
chlorpyrifos, OPs, and vinclozolin) and herbicides (such as triazines and metolachlor) has
been suggested to increase teratogenicity risk [
29
] due to the high susceptibility of most
fetal systems during certain periods of development [
134
]. Robust data show a positive
association between maternal pesticide exposure during the three months that preceded
conception and the first three months of pregnancy, and paternal pesticide exposure during
the 12 months that preceded conception and the occurrence of congenital malformations in
children in Mato Grosso [135].
Agricultural workers who have concurrent exposure to pesticides are at increased
risk of hearing loss in low and high frequencies [
136
138
]. Tobacco farmers from southern
Brazil exposed to pesticides exhibited signs of central auditory dysfunction characterized by
decrements in temporal processing and binaural integration processes/abilities [
139
,
140
].
Using meatoscopy, pure tone audiometry, logoaudiometry, high-frequency thresholds,
and immittance testing, Tomiazzi et al. [
141
] demonstrate the direct effect of pesticides
on hearing loss in 127 participants, of both sexes, aged between 18 and 39, carried out in
Pontal do Paranapanema region, one of the less developed regions of the state of São Paulo.
The nervous system is particularly susceptible to many pesticides of several distinct
chemical classes. Several studies show that prenatal and early childhood exposure to
OPs is associated with neurodevelopmental effects [
142
] and neurocognitive disorders as
attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) and autism spectrum
disorder (ASD) [
143
]. A meta-analysis concluded that low-dose exposures to OPs were
linked to reduced psychomotor speed, executive function, and visuospatial ability, as well
as work and visual memory [
144
]. Other studies have also associated OCs, OPs, and other
pesticides with dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
but mainly with Parkinson’s disease [
145
,
146
]. Campos et al. (2015) [
147
] demonstrated
that children and adolescents living in Cidade dos Meninos in the Brazilian State of Rio de
Janeiro contaminated with OC pesticides presented cognitive deficiencies. In the same state,
a major impact of pesticide exposure in the development of tremor was observed [148].
Hazardous pesticides (classes Ia, Ib, and II), such as the OP insecticides monocrotophos,
phorate, and methyl parathion or the herbicide paraquat [
149
], have been responsible for
most pesticide suicides worldwide over the last five decades. Several other countries where
pesticide suicide is a significant problem have reported the effects of national pesticide
regulation on suicide [
150
], notably Bangladesh [
151
], South Korea [
152
], Sri Lanka [
153
],
and India [
86
]. Although regulatory agencies have many options for increased safeguards
for any pesticide, the most effective and reliable is to ban the most dangerous pesticides
and those with higher potential for harm to humans and the environment following the
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 3198 13 of 19
precautionary principle. Finally, more severe cases of mental illness, such as depression
and attempted suicide, have also been reported by groups in some Brazilian research
institutions [154156], which leads us to advocate for the importance of strengthening the
evaluation of mental illness caused by chronic exposure to pesticides, especially in rural
workers living in low economic and social conditions by health authorities.
4. Conclusions
The review demonstrated that over the last six years, important Brazilian institutions
have been dedicated to studying the possible effects of pesticides on human health. An im-
portant factor, since Brazil is an agricultural country, is that pesticide use increases every
year. Furthermore, scientific publications on the effect of pesticides on human health play
a fundamental role in guiding public policies in the adoption of the highest standards of
procedures, guidelines, and mitigation measures to reduce potential risks to the population.
Author Contributions:
M.L.-F. and C.L. conceptualized the review article and, together with A.L.A.M.,
L.B.-L., J.T.G.B., L.M.H., A.C.S.-S., J.B.-F. and M.A.P.F., have made a substantial, direct, and intel-
lectual contribution to the work, such as literature search, data analysis, revision, and approval for
publication. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding:
This work was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation—FAPESP (
#2013/07467-1
),
CNPq (305414/2019-4), and in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível
Superior—Brasil (CAPES)—Finance Code 001. The funders had no role in study design, data
collection, analysis, decision to publish, or manuscript preparation.
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable.
Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable.
Data Availability Statement:
The original contributions presented in the study are included in the
article, further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
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... indicated their environmental hazards and health risks in man and animals [2][3][4][5]8,15]. The availability of pesticide products in the local Iraqi market is not fully controlled or known. ...
... In the present study, PChE and EChE activities of pesticideexposed farmworkers were not significantly different from those of the control group (Table 4). Many studies have reported reduced blood ChE activity in farmers handling pesticides, especially the organophosphates [2,8,[15][16][17]20,22,23,25,31,37,39]. The reason for this discrepancy could be related to the fact that pre-exposure PChE and EChE values of farmworkers of the present study were not known, as measuring pre-exposure ChE activity of farmworkers is not practiced in our region. ...
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Background: The use of pesticides by farmworkers poses considerable health risks. This study was undertaken to examine plasma and erythrocyte cholinesterase activities, plasma oxidative biomarkers malondialdehyde (MDA), and total antioxidant status (TAS) among farmworkers using different pesticide products in Duhok, northern of Iraq. Methods: This is a case-control study conducted between November 2021 to July 2022 on 92 male farmworkers who were exposed to pesticides in comparison with 44 non-exposed male subjects (control). The availability and uses of pesticides were obtained from 19 agrochemical shops and the farmworkers exposed to pesticides. Demographic data of pesticide-exposed farmworkers and their practice of pesticide applications were recorded. Plasma and erythrocyte cholinesterase activities and plasma MDA and TAS levels were determined in both groups. Results: The farmworkers had a significant 10.0% increase in plasma MDA level, with no significant changes in blood cholinesterase activities or the TAS level. Odds and risk ratios of reduced plasma cholinesterase activity (20.0%) suggested an association of health risks in pesticide-exposed farmworkers. Most of the pesticide products (278) in use were insecticides (47.0%), which comprised mainly 26.0% pyrethroids and 3.0-7.0% anticholinesterase insecticides, among others. The majority of the farmworkers (51%) were merely aware of the general target use of the pesticide, and 75% had an exposure history of > 5 years. Pesticide application was mostly (50.0%) manual, and 54.0% used insufficient personal protection equipment; 32.0% ate and drank at work, 48.0% practiced disposal of empty pesticide containers by burning and/or burying them, whereas 25.0% dumped the containers indiscriminately, and 25% disposed them at garbage sites openly. Conclusion: The farmworkers, with only a marginal increase in oxidative stress biomarker MDA, did not suffer from significant reductions in blood cholinesterase activities, although odds and risk ratios of reduced plasma cholinesterase activity suggested a health risk. Implementation of a national program is needed to measure pre-exposure blood cholinesterase activities in farmworkers.
... Paparan pestisida yang berkepanjangan dapat menyebabkan masalah kesehatan diantaranya karsinogen, neuorotoksikan, gangguan endokrin, gangguan perkembangan hingga gangguan metabolik. Tidak hanya itu efek toksik dari pestisida bagi tubuh antara lain kelainan hematologik, kerusakan DNA, kematian sel, iritasi kulit dan mata, perubahan kadar hormon, infertilitas, keguguran, malformasi pada janin, gangguan neurologis, gangguan pendengaran hingga penyakit neurodegeneratif (Lopes-Ferreira et al., 2022). Hasil kajian literatur dilakukan oleh Pratama et al (2021) menemukan bahwa paparan pestisida pada petani jangka panjang akan menimbulkan berbagai masalah kesehatan seperti anemia, hipertensi, diabetes militus, hipotiroid, gangguan sistem reproduksi, gangguan kesuburan pria, gangguan sistem syaraf, dan gangguan kesehatan lainnya. ...
... Paparan pestisida yang berkepanjangan dapat menyebabkan masalah-masalah kesehatan diantaranya karsinogen, neuorotoksikan, gangguan endokrin, gangguan perkembangan hingga gangguan metabolic. Tidak hanya itu efek toksik dari pestisida yang lainnya bagi tubuh adalah kelainan hematologic, kerusakan DNA, kematian sel, iritasi kulit dan mata, perubahan kadar hormone, infertilitas, keguguran, malformasi pada janin, gangguan neurologis, gangguan pendengaran hingga penyakit neurodegenerative (Lopes-Ferreira et al., 2022). Bahaya yang disebabkan oleh pestisida tentunya tidak hanya derajat toksisitasnya saja, akan tetapi lamanya paparan dalam penggunaan pestisida juga harus di perhatikan, yang artinya resiko terjadinya bahaya pestisida bagi kesehatan bergantung pada derajat toksisitas dan lamanya paparan pestisida (Mutia & Oktarlina, 2020). ...
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ABSTRAK Status kesehatan seringkali di anggap berpengaruh pada produktivitas kerja petani sehingga dengan menurunnya angka kesehatan petani dapat berdampak pada kualitas maupun kuantitas hasil pertanian yang menurun. Untuk meningkatkan perilaku petani melakukan pencegahan efek pestisida bagi kesehatan dalam jangka panjang.Pelatihan dengan strategi ceramah, pemutaran video edukasi, diskusi, tanya jawab, dan praktik. Media yang digunakan antara lain slide power point, video, dan buku panduan kader PESAT.pembentukan kader PESAT dapat meningkatkan pengetahuan petani mengenai efek pestisida bagi kesehatan petani sebesar 72%, sedangkan capacity building dapat meningkatkan perilaku petani untuk mencegah efek pestisida bagi kesehatan petani sebesar 74%. Kegiatan ini berhasil meningkatkan pengetahuan petani mengenai efek pestisida bagi kesehatan petani dan berhasil meningkatkan perilaku petani untuk mencegah efek pestisida bagi kesehatan petani. Kata Kunci: Petani, Capacity Building, Pestisida, Status Kesehatan ABSTRACT Health status is often considered to have an effect on farmer's work productivity, so that the decreasing number of farmers' health can have an impact on the quality and quantity of agricultural products that decrease. To improve the behavior of farmers to prevent the effects of pesticides on health in the long term. Training with lecture strategies, educational video screenings, discussions, questions and answers, and practice. The media used include power point slides, videos, and PESAT cadre guidebooks. he formation of PESAT cadres can increase farmers' knowledge about the effects of pesticides on farmers' health by 72%, while Capacity Building can improve farmers' behavior to prevent the effects of pesticides on farmers' health by 74%. This activity succeeded in increasing farmers' knowledge about the effects of pesticides on farmers' health and succeeded in improving farmers' behavior to prevent the effects of pesticides on farmers' health. Keywords : Farmers, Capacity Building, Pesticides, Health Status
... The management of insect crop pests has become difficult for many reasons, including the intensification of crop production practices and utilization of monoculture. To satisfy the growing demand for food from the rapid increase in the world population (He et al. 2016), chemical control is one of the most widely used techniques to manage these organisms; however, the use of insecticides often has adverse effects on humans and the environment (Lopes-Ferreira et al. 2022), and repeated overuse can reduce effectiveness of some insecticide over time. Scale insects are generally polyphagous pests that attack all parts of the plant and have a very short life cycle (Rodrigues-Silva et al. 2021), which allow them to quickly acquire resistance (Afzal and Shad 2016). ...
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Although natural enemies play an important role in most integrated pest management programs, biological control agents remain poorly adopted in food production systems primarily due to the high costs associated with their implementation. Cryptolaemus montrouzieri (Mulsant, 1853) is a very promising candidate for the biological control of mealybugs. However , mass rearing of this predator is critical to provide sufficient numbers so that effective control of mealybugs can be achieved. Thus, this work focuses on mass rearing of this biological control agent under controlled conditions at T = 28 ± 1 °C, RH = 70 ± 5%, and 12:12-h photoperiod L:D. This experiment was based on feeding this predator three diets: a freeze-dried artificial food source, the cactus cochineal-Dactylopius opuntiae (Cockerell, 1929), and a combination of the two diets. The fecundity recorded in the freeze-dried artificial food, D. opuntiae, and mixed diet was 2.73, 8.79, and 8.78 larvae/female, respectively. The sex ratios (male:female) of the cochineal adults that emerged on the three diets were 1:1.35, 1:1.23, and 1:1.11, respectively, for the freeze-dried artificial food, D. opuntiae, and mixed diet. The emerged adults had an average weight of 9.2 mg when fed the artificial diet, 13.8 mg for the D. opuntiae diet, and 9.5 mg for the mixed diet, while the life cycle duration for each diet was 50.1, 43.5, and 42.3 d, respectively. At the beginning of the C. montrouzieri rearing process with 40 adults, our results indicated that an average of 1031.1 adults can be produced using D. opuntiae as the diet in a volume of 1 m 3. The D. opuntiae diet is recommended due to its overall lower costs. Additionally, this study indicates that mass-rearing of C. montrouzieri can be achieved with cheaper and more readily available materials for diets, instead of purchasing a freeze-dried artificial food source.
... Fipronil is an organic insecticide of the phenylpyrazole family, discovered and developed by Rhône-Poulenc between 1985 and 1987 [1] and marketed since 1993 [1]. Its increasing widespread use has raised concerns about the possible effects on the integrity of humans and animals [1][2][3][4]. Fipronil can have a half-life ranging from 15 to 105 days, depending on the soil type and the application of residues such as vinasse and filter cake. The pH of the aqueous medium can also affect the half-life of more than 100 days, which decreases to 28 days at pH 9 and 2.4 at pH 12 [5]. ...
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Abstract Fipronil is a broad-spectrum insecticide with remarkable efficacy that is widely used to control insect pests around the world. However, its extensive use has led to increasing soil and water contamination. This fact is of concern and makes it necessary to evaluate the risk of undesirable effects on non-target microorganisms, such as the microbial community in water and/or soil. Studies using the metagenomic approach to assess the effects of fipronil on soil microbial communities are scarce. In this context, the present study was conducted to identify microorganisms that can biodegrade fipronil and that could be of great environmental interest. For this purpose, the targeted metabarcoding approach was performed in soil microcosms under two environmental conditions: fipronil exposure and control (without fipronil). After a 35-day soil microcosm period, the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene of all samples was sequenced using the ion torrent personal genome machine (PGM) platform. Our study showed the presence of Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Firmicutes in all of the samples; however, the presence of fipronil in the soil samples resulted in a significant increase in the concentration of bacteria from these phyla. The statistical results indicate that some bacterial genera benefited from soil exposure to fipronil, as in the case of bacteria from the genus Thalassobacillus, while others were affected, as in the case of bacteria from the genus Streptomyces. Overall, the results of this study provide a potential contribution of fipronil-degrading bacteria. Keywords: bioremediation; 16S rRNA; next generation sequencing; environmental biotechnology; targeted sequencing
... The use of chemicals, including pesticides, by humans has caused evident side effects on human health and development. Prominent side effects that have gained special attention include premature birth, congenital malformations, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, asthma, allergies, early puberty, diabetes, reduced fertility, and cancer [1,2]. ...
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Pesticide exposure has deleterious effects on human health and development; however, no review has been conducted on human exposure to pesticides and the risk of congenital malformations and cancer in the same cohort. We systematically reviewed the evidence for this relationship following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines. Four databases, namely, PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and BVS, were searched for studies deposited till July 2020 that examined the influence of pesticide exposure on congenital malformations and cancer outcomes in the same cohort. Seven studies were systematically included in this review. Among these, four were case–control studies, two were cross-sectional studies, and one was a longitudinal cohort study. The sources of contamination were food, water, or exposure during agricultural work. A link between the occurrence of cancer, congenital malformations, and exposure to pesticides was observed in most studies.
Chapter
Recent years of the Covid-19 pandemic have seen a proportional increase in the amount of time we spend in our homes each day. In spite of this, urban dwellers continue to spend-although varying from area to area of the world-many hours outside their homes for work, daily needs, recreation, and social relationships. This implies that the urban environment, both tangible and intangible, has several factors that can be both protective and risky for health. As highlighted in the 2016 Quito Conference, health can be the pulse of the new urban agenda for sustainable urban development [1]. It is not easy to take stock of where we are. On a global scale, there still seems to be a limited ethical-cultural awareness, a lack of political attention and thus of resource allocation, an insufficient capacity to use innovative choices and technologies and to actively involve local communities in decision-making processes and in the implementation of possible interventions. On the other hand, there are numerous positive experiences of urban realities that have produced convincing efforts in recent decades to make our cities more livable and healthy. Let us hope that the 2030 agenda proposed by the United Nations on the Sustainable Development Goals can really exert a driving role in this direction. A real willingness to set in motion virtuous processes to guarantee us a better quality of urban life, including by agreeing to revise our development and consumption patterns, will make all the difference.
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Pesticides are becoming a key topic in critical academic research; they entail substantial negative global impacts on human health and other-than-humans’ existences. Even though decades of agroecological research and practice have demonstrated that no pesticides are needed to produce enough food, pesticides are still most typically taken for granted as an indispensable part of food production. In this article, we analyse events and policies through which Brazilian agriculture has become a global hotspot for pesticide consumption in the global agrarian capitalism. We provide an overview of the pesticide legalisation in Brazilian agriculture and discuss the ramifications of recent changes for pesticide-free agriculture. The post-2016 legalisation of pesticides has taken place concomitantly with a quick dismantling of the structures supporting agroecology and protecting the environment. The toxic turn of the Brazilian agriculture is seen in part as a reactionary response to the momentum of agroecology, which removes pesticides from agriculture, that had gained strength under the first Workers’ Party regime between 2003 and 2016. A pivotal policy goal for the new Lula government should be an agroecological transformation, which can be justified by politicising pesticide use as a major, multidimensional problem of the ‘agribusiness economy’.
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The environmental and occupational risk we confront from agricultural chemicals increases as their presence in natural habitats rises to hazardous levels, building a major part of the exposome. This is of particular concern in low- and middle-income countries, such as Brazil, known as a leading producer of agricultural commodities and consumer of pesticides. As long as public policies continue to encourage the indiscriminate use of pesticides and governments continue to support this strategy instead of endorsing sustainable agricultural alternatives, the environmental burden that damages epithelial barriers will continue to grow. Chronic exposure to environmental contaminants in early life can affect crucial barrier tissue, such as skin epithelium, airways, and intestine, causing increased permeability, leaking, dysbiosis, and inflammation, with serious implications for metabolism and homeostasis. This vicious cycle of exposure to environmental factors and the consequent damage to the epithelial barrier has been associated with an increase in immune-mediated chronic inflammatory diseases. Understanding how the harmful effects of pesticides on the epithelial barrier impact cellular interactions mediated by endogenous sensors that coordinate a successful immune system represents a crucial challenge. In line with the epithelial barrier hypothesis, this narrative review reports the available evidence on the effects of pesticides on epithelial barrier integrity, dysbiosis, AhR signaling, and the consequent development of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.
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Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) were analyzed in 136 blubber samples of Franciscana dolphins from Brazil (Pontoporia blainvillei), which is the most threatened dolphin in the Southwestern Atlantic. The dolphins were caught by the fishery fleet and collected from 2000 to 2018 in three regions of São Paulo state: northern São Paulo (SPN), central São Paulo (SPC), and southern São Paulo (SPS). The POPs analyzed in this study were polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDTs), Mirex, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), chlordane compounds (CHLs), hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The concentrations ranged from 36 to 7200 ng g−1 lipid weight (lw) and 113–42200 ng g−1 lw for predominant compounds DDTs and PCBs, respectively. Similar profiles of PCB congeners were observed with a predominance of hexachlorinated compounds, representing approximately 50% of the total PCB amount; the highest PCB concentrations were observed from Baixada Santista (SPC) proximate to a highly urbanized and industrial coastal area. Significant differences were observed between the sexes and maturity of dolphins, mainly for PCBs, DDTs, and Mirex. In general, POPs other than HCB in Franciscana dolphins showed downward temporal trends, matching the regulatory periods for restricting and/or banning these compounds. Although POP concentrations are declining, PCB levels remain high in small dolphins, suggesting adverse health effects on Franciscanas. As organic contaminants are one of the numerous threats Franciscanas have been vulnerable to along the Brazilian coast, we recommend monitoring POPs levels every five years to check for declining (or stabilizing) trends.
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RESUMO O uso de agrotóxicos na agricultura brasileira é um problema de saúde pública, dadas as contaminações no ambiente, em alimentos e as intoxicações resultantes do uso dessas substâncias. O objetivo deste artigo é investigar a distribuição espacial das áreas plantadas de lavouras e as taxas de mortalidade de alguns tipos de câncer: mama, colo do útero e próstata. Escolheram-se quatro estados brasileiros que possuem grande produção de commodities agrícolas a serem estudadas. Trata-se de um estudo ecológico de análise espacial conduzido com dados e informações do Sistema de Informação sobre Mortalidade (SIM) do Ministério da Saúde, por meio do qual elaboraram-se taxas de mortalidade para os referidos tipos de câncer, cujos óbitos tenham ocorrido entre 1996 e 2016. Há indícios de que existe correspondência entre as áreas de maior estimativa de uso de agrotóxicos Disruptores Endócrinos e o aumento das taxas de mortalidade pelos diferentes tipos de câncer.
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The health of family farmers is at risk due to occupational exposure to pesticides. The aims of the current study were to investigate the level of farmers’ perception of risks associated with pesticide use and to assess their health condition based on biochemical and immunological tests. Family farmers living in a vegetable-producing region in Southern Brazil were selected to participate in the study. More than 70% of the family farmers were often exposed to more than one type of pesticides; 41.2% were intensively using several pesticides for more than one decade and 74.4% were not using personal protective equipment (PPE) at the time of pesticide handling due to low perception of the risks posed by these chemicals. Enzymatic analysis performed in participants’ blood samples showed changes in catalase (CAT) and glutathione reductase (GR) activity, in lipid peroxidation (TBARS) and carbonylated protein levels, as well as in chemoattractant (IL-8) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) interleukin expression. Low perception of health-related risks posed by pesticides can be attributed to factors such as low schooling and lack of information, which put farmers’ health at risk, as evidenced by blood biochemical and immunological changes.
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There has been a steep increase in allergic and autoimmune diseases, reaching epidemic proportions and now affecting more than one billion people worldwide. These diseases are more common in industrialized countries, and their prevalence continues to rise in developing countries in parallel to urbanization and industrialization. Intact skin and mucosal barriers are crucial for the maintenance of tissue homeostasis as they protect host tissues from infections, environmental toxins, pollutants and allergens. A defective epithelial barrier has been demonstrated in allergic and autoimmune conditions such as asthma, atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, chronic rhinosinusitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease. In addition, leakiness of the gut epithelium is also implicated in systemic autoimmune and metabolic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, ankylosing spondylitis and autoimmune hepatitis. Finally, distant inflammatory responses due to a ‘leaky gut’ and microbiome changes are suspected in Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, chronic depression and autism spectrum disorders. This article introduces an extended ‘epithelial barrier hypothesis’, which proposes that the increase in epithelial barrier-damaging agents linked to industrialization, urbanization and modern life underlies the rise in allergic, autoimmune and other chronic conditions. Furthermore, it discusses how the immune responses to dysbiotic microbiota that cross the damaged barrier may be involved in the development of these diseases. In this review, Cezmi Akdis discusses how epithelial barrier-damaging agents linked to industrialization, urbanization and modern life may explain the increased prevalence of allergic disease as well as a wide range of autoimmune and metabolic conditions in which immune responses to translocated bacteria have systemic effects.
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It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid exposure to man-made endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and environmental toxicants. This escalating yet constant exposure is postulated to partially explain the concurrent decline in human fertility that has occurred over the last 50 years. Controversy however remains as to whether associations exist, with conflicting findings commonly reported for all major EDC classes. The primary aim of this extensive work was to identify and review strong peer-reviewed evidence regarding the effects of environmentally-relevant EDC concentrations on adult male and female fertility during the critical periconception period on reproductive hormone concentrations, gamete and embryo characteristics, as well as the time to pregnancy in the general population. Secondly, to ascertain whether individuals or couples diagnosed as sub-fertile exhibit higher EDC or toxicant concentrations. Lastly, to highlight where little or no data exists that prevents strong associations being identified. From the greater than 1480 known EDCs, substantial evidence supports a negative association between exposure to phthalates, PCBs, PBDEs, pyrethroids, organochloride pesticides and male fertility and fecundity. Only moderate evidence exists for a negative association between BPA, PCBs, organochloride pesticides and female fertility and fecundity. Overall fewer studies were reported in women than men, with knowledge gaps generally evident for both sexes for all the major EDC classes, as well as a paucity of female fertility studies following exposure to parabens, triclosans, dioxins, PFAS, organophosphates and pyrethroids. Generally, sub-fertile individuals or couples exhibit higher EDC concentrations, endorsing a positive association between EDC exposure and sub-fertility. This review also discusses confounding and limiting factors that hamper our understanding of EDC exposures on fertility and fecundity. Finally, it highlights future research areas, as well as government, industry and social awareness strategies required to mitigate the negative effects of EDC and environmental toxicant exposure on human fertility and fecundity.
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In this study, the six indicator non-dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls NDL-PCBs (PCB28, PCB52, PCB101, PCB138, PCB153, PCB180), as well as four organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and dichlorodiphenyldichlorethylene (DDE) were measured in 98 maternal and 49 cord sera samples of a group of Lebanese women who gave birth in three hospitals in Greater Beirut, between March and July 2018. Results showed that the levels of these persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in maternal serum were below critical limits as well as those in other countries (Tunisia, France, Portugal, Spain, Poland, Greenland, Canada, Brazil, and China). The ratios of cord serum concentrations to maternal serum concentrations of analyzed POPs were higher than 1. PCB maternal serum concentrations were found to be linked to illegal incineration (OR = 5.78; p = 0.004) as well as eggs (OR = 4.68; p = 0.027) and fruits and vegetables consumption (OR = 3.92; p = 0.016). OCP concentrations were linked to red meat and cold cuts intake (OR = 3.67–4.59; p = 0.001–0.004). While PCB levels were not correlated to newborns anthropometric measurements, OCP levels in cord serum were found to be positively linked to the birth length of newborns (p = 0.014–0.027).