Pesticide exposure has negative long- and short-term effects

Photo credit: USDA Photo credit: USDA

A recent study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE has found that farm workers exposed to pesticides experienced negative long- and short term health effects. Researchers used a sample of 246 farmers randomly selected from three Chinese provinces. Participants underwent clinical health evaluations, blood testing and neurological tests before and after the farming season in 2012 and were interviewed to collect data on their pesticide use from 2009 – 2011. Scientists found that more than 70% of farmworker participants had at least one abnormal health result in testing prior to the farming season. Almost 8% of participants had blood chemistry test results indicating abnormal renal function, 10% - 15% exhibited abnormal vitamin, electrolyte and plasma glucose levels, and almost 50% had abnormal results in nerve conduction studies. Furthermore, when tests were repeated at the end of the growing season, researchers found that the percentage of farmworkers with at least one abnormal health result had risen to 95%. “We found that there were extensive long-term and short-term health effects in farmers exposed to pesticides. The former involved peripheral nervous system, white blood cells, liver, electrolytes, and the latter involved blood cells, liver, kidney, electrolytes and peripheral nervous system,” the authors reported.