Effects on respiratory health and exposure to pesticides in the general population

First author [ref.]LocationStudy designSummary of methodResults
Population characteristicsPesticides of interestExposure assessmentHealth outcomes
Balluz [44]USACross-sectional117 employees of a health centre in Georgia, 94% women, aged: 21–68 yearsMalathion, Organochlorines including DDT: stored, handled and used in the fight against mosquitoesEnvironmental sampling of pesticides in the building: Malathion (110 µg·g−1); DDT (24 µg·g−1) Measures of 17 chlorinated pesticides in serum and urine of employees (concentrations below 95% limit for the reference range for the US population)Self-reported occurrence and severity of respiratory illnesses and symptomsDuration of employment (at least 3 years) significantly associated with bronchitis (OR 4.3, 95% CI 1.7–11.0) and sinusitis (OR 3.7, 95% CI 1.5–8.7) No association between health complaint and pesticide levels in serum and urine
Ames [45]USARetrospective study39 subjects who were residents living near farms where paraquat was applied and 172 controls living in areas remote from sprayingParaquatLiving near farms where paraquat was applied (an area of ∼0.5 miles) Self-reported perception of odour during the 2 weeks of study periodSelf-reported symptoms during the 2-week study periodSignificant increased risk for cough (RR 2.60; p<0.001) and wheezing (RR 3.04; p<0.01, Chi-squared) in the paraquat-exposed group
Karpati [46]USARetrospective study after a mosquito eradication programme62 827 visits for asthma in the ED of hospitals in New York, study period, mean age: 34 yearsPyrethroid insecticides sprayed in New York City during July–September 2000 to control mosquito vectors of West Nile virusNoneData obtained from the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation for ED visits for asthma during pesticide spraying periodNo significant association between pesticide spraying days and daily rates of asthma visits (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.80–1.07)
O'Sullivan [47]USARetrospective study after a mosquito eradication programme1 318 patients with a diagnosis of asthma in the ED of Lincoln hospital (South Bronx, NY) during 1997, 1998 and 1999Malathion (organophosphate insecticide) and andresmethrin (pyrethroid insecticide) sprayed during the mosquito eradication programme in South Bronx in September 1999NoneAdult and paediatric asthma ED admissions during the 4 days (September 1999) of the mosquito eradication programmeNo significant differences in patient ED asthma admissions between spraying and non-spraying days in September 1999 No significant difference between the number of ED asthma admissions in September 1999 compared with 1997 and 1998
Zhang [48]ChinaCross-sectional22 528 rural adults, 48.7% men, age ≥15 yearsInsecticidesFace-to-face questionnaire to obtain information on regular occupational and environmental exposure to chemicals (insecticides)Face-to-face questionnaire (IUATLD questionnaire) about respiratory symptoms during the past 12 monthsExposure to insecticides associated with higher prevalence of chronic cough (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.4–3.3), asthma attack (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3–2.9) and wheeze (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2–2.6)
LeVan [49]SingaporeProspctive cohort (Singapore Chinese Health Study, SCHS)52 325 subjects, 42.6% men, age: 45–75 yearsVapour exposure including pesticidesNoneFollow-up phone questionnaire based on ATS-DLD: respiratory symptoms, self-report of physician-diagnosed adult-onset asthma and respiratory outcomes in generalOccupational pesticide exposure associated with adult-onset asthma (OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.13–2.52)
  • DDT: dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane; RR: relative risk; ED: emergency department; IUATLD: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease; ATS-DLD: American Thoracic Society Division of Lung Disease.