Thursday, June 30, 2011

Working near fields sprayed with pesticides increases risk of Parkinson’s disease, researchers say

Working near fields sprayed with
pesticides can be a health risk.First they said living close to fields sprayed with two common pesticides could increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Now a follow-up study shows that working nearby increases the risk substantially, especially if exposure involves a combination of pesticides, and that the risk also includes a third commonly used pesticides.

The chemicals in question are the fungicide maneb and the herbicide paraquat as well as the pesticide ziram.

What are pesticides?

Chemical pesticides are often used on fields and grass to prevent or exterminate pests.

But while they may protect crops from insect or other infestation, many of these pesticides have been shown to be toxic to humans as well.

According to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 10 of the 12 most dangerous and persistent organic chemicals are pesticides.

Pesticides and health: Side effects of pesticides

Exposure to pesticides can lead to immediate or delayed health effects, including irritation of the skin and eyes.

Some pesticides have also been linked to nervous system disorders, reproductive challenges and cancer.

Pesticide use can contaminate non-target species, air, water and soil and therefore expose people in many ways.

Working near pesticides

The new study looked at where people, including teachers, firefighters and clerks who worked near, but not in, the fields.

The study showed that the combined exposure to ziram, maneb and paraquat near any workplace increased the risk of Parkinson's disease (PD) threefold, while combined exposure to ziram and paraquat alone was associated with an 80 percent increase in risk.

"Our estimates of risk for ambient exposure in the workplaces were actually greater than for exposure at residences," said Dr. Beate Ritz, senior author and a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health.

"And, of course, people who both live and work near these fields experience the greatest PD risk. These workplace results give us independent confirmation of our earlier work that focused only on residences, and of the damage these chemicals are doing."

In addition, Ritz noted, this is the first study that provides strong evidence in humans that the combination of the three chemicals confers a greater risk of Parkinson's than exposure to the individual chemicals alone.

Because these pesticides affect different mechanisms leading to cell death, they may act together to increase the risk of developing the disorder: Those exposed to all three experienced the greatest increase in risk.

The study has been published in the online edition of the European Journal of Epidemiology.

Source: Science Daily

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