Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

WHO pesticide regulations should be based on toxicity in humans, not rats, experts say

Date:
October 26, 2010
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Current WHO pesticide classifications are based on toxicity in rats, but basing regulation on human toxicity will make pesticide poisoning less hazardous and prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths globally without compromising agricultural needs, according to a new study.

Current WHO pesticide classifications are based on toxicity in rats but basing regulation on human toxicity will make pesticide poisoning less hazardous and prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths globally without compromising agricultural needs. These are the key findings from a study by Andrew Dawson (South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka) and colleagues published in PLoS Medicine.

The single most common means of suicide worldwide is agricultural pesticide poisoning. The authors examined the proportion of patients dying (case fatality) of different agricultural pesticides among patients who presented with pesticide self-poisoning at two Sri Lankan referral hospitals. Between April 2002 and November 2008, 9,302 people were admitted to the hospitals after ingesting a single pesticide.

The authors identified the pesticide ingested in 7,461 cases by asking the patient what he/she had taken or by identifying the container brought in by the patient or their relatives. Ten percent of the patients died but there was a large variation in case fatality between the pesticides taken. Compounds in the same chemical class and/or the same WHO toxicity class sometimes had very different toxicities. For example, dimethoate and malathione, both class II organophosphate insecticides, had case fatalities of 20.6% and 1.9%, respectively. Similarly, pesticides used for similar agricultural purposes sometimes had very different case fatalities.

These important findings are likely to be generalizable to other hospitals and to other parts of rural Asia as the systematically collected prospective human data enable reliable estimates of relative toxicity for pesticides.

The authors say that "the data are much more directly relevant to human risk assessment than the existing animal data from which the WHO/EPA classifications of toxicity used in regulation are derived." They continue: "Moreover, it provides evidence of very large differences in acute human toxicity within these widely used classifications. These data provide a basis for refining further public health, regulatory, and clinical responses to the problem of acute pesticide poisoning. "

In an accompanying Perspective on the research article, Matthew Miller and Kavi Bhalla from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA (uninvolved in the research), call for urgent reclassification of agricultural pesticides to help reduce suicides by pesticide poisoning.

They say: "The findings from the current study by Dawson and colleagues have helped refine human toxicity estimates for pesticides in use today. Better surveillance data and additional research will, eventually, lead to additional refinements. In the meantime, while we wait for these refinements, we must not ignore what, thanks to Dawson and colleagues, we already know."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Mervyn Singer, Andrew H. Dawson, Michael Eddleston, Lalith Senarathna, Fahim Mohamed, Indika Gawarammana, Steven J. Bowe, Gamini Manuweera, Nicholas A. Buckley. Acute Human Lethal Toxicity of Agricultural Pesticides: A Prospective Cohort Study. PLoS Medicine, 2010; 7 (10): e1000357 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000357
  2. Matthew Miller, Kavi Bhalla. An Urgent Need to Restrict Access to Pesticides Based on Human Lethality. PLoS Medicine, 2010; 7 (10): e1000358 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000358

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "WHO pesticide regulations should be based on toxicity in humans, not rats, experts say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026172019.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2010, October 26). WHO pesticide regulations should be based on toxicity in humans, not rats, experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026172019.htm
Public Library of Science. "WHO pesticide regulations should be based on toxicity in humans, not rats, experts say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026172019.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins