Neurological effects of pesticide use among farmers in China

Yifan Li, Chao Zhang, Yanhong Yin, Fang Cui, Jinyang Cai, Zhaohui Chen, Yanhong Jin, Mark G. Robson, Mao Li, Yuting Ren, Xusheng Huang, Ruifa Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

The intensive use of pesticides has attracted great attention from the Chinese government. However, current regulations have had limited influence on their safe use. Although the acute neurologic effects of pesticides have been well documented, little is known about their cumulative effects. Knowledge of the impact of pesticides on health may convince farmers to minimize their use. We conducted a cross-sectional study in three provinces of China to evaluate the relationship between pesticide exposure and neurological dysfunction. Crop farmers were divided into two groups depending on their level of pesticide exposure. A total of 236 participants were assessed by questionnaire and neurological examination for symptoms and signs of neuropathy. Characteristics of neurologic dysfunction following cumulative low-level exposure were assessed with logistic regression analysis. Farmers exposed to high-level pesticide use had greater risk of developing sensations of numbness or prickling (odds ratio (OR) 2.62, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08-6.36). After adjusting for recent exposure, the risk of numbness or prickling symptoms (OR 2.55, 95% CI: 1.04-6.25) remained statistically significant. Loss of muscle strength and decreased deep tendon reflexes had OR > 2, however, this did not reach statistical significance. These findings suggest that overuse of pesticides increased risk of neurologic dysfunction among farmers, with somatosensory small fibers most likely affected. Measures that are more efficient should be taken to curb excessive use of pesticides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3995-4006
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 14 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Keywords

  • China
  • Health effect
  • Neurological deficit
  • Pesticide overuse

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