| NEW YORK
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Exposure to several commonly
used pesticides appears to increase the risk of asthma, US
This finding stems from a study of nearly 20,000 farmers,
which was presented Sunday at the European Respiratory Society
Annual Congress in Stockholm.
Pesticide exposure is a "potential risk factor for asthma
and respiratory symptoms among farmers," lead author Dr. Jane
A. Hoppin, from the National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, told
"Because grains and animals are more common exposures in
agricultural settings, pesticides may be overlooked," Hoppin
warned, adding: "Better education and training of farmers and
pesticide handlers may help to reduce asthma risk."
Of the 19,704 farmers included in the study, 127 had
self-reported (doctor diagnosed) allergic asthma and 314 had
The main finding was that a history of high pesticide
exposure was associated with a doubling of asthma risk, Hoppin
noted. The link remained statistically significant after
adjusting for a variety of potentially confounding factors
including age, smoking, body weight, and state of residence.
Overall, 16 of the pesticides studied were associated with
asthma: 12 with the allergic variety of asthma and 4 with the
non-allergic type. Coumaphos, EPTC, lindane, parathion,
heptachlor, and 2,4,5-TP were most strongly linked to allergic
asthma. For non-allergic asthma, DDT, malathion, and phorate
had the strongest effect.
"This is the first study with sufficient power to evaluate
individual pesticides and adult asthma among individuals who
routinely apply pesticides," Hoppin noted. Moreover, this is
the only study to date to do this for allergic and non-allergic
asthma separately, the researcher said.