Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain and nervous system damaged by low-level exposure to organophosphate pesticides

Date:
December 2, 2012
Source:
University College London - UCL
Summary:
Scientists have found that low-level exposure to organophosphates produces lasting decrements in neurological and cognitive function. Memory and information processing speed are affected to a greater degree than other cognitive functions such as language.

Scientists have found that low-level exposure to organophosphates (OPs) produces lasting decrements in neurological and cognitive function. Memory and information processing speed are affected to a greater degree than other cognitive functions such as language.

The systematic review of the literature was carried out by researchers at UCL and the Open University. It is the first to attempt a quantitative evaluation of the data assimilated from 14 studies and more than 1,600 participants. The researchers used meta-analysis to obtain an overview of the literature and their findings are published in the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology.

"Meta-analysis combines the results of several studies and moves the discussion away from individual pieces of research, towards an overview of a body of literature," says lead author Dr Sarah Mackenzie Ross (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology).

"This is considered to be the method of choice in situations where research findings may be used to inform public policy," explains Professor Chris McManus (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology), co-author of the study.

Dr Mackenzie Ross continues: "This is the first time anyone has analysed the literature concerning the neurotoxicity of organophosphate pesticides, using the statistical technique of meta-analysis.

"The analysis reveals that the majority of well-designed studies undertaken over the last 20 years find a significant association between low-level exposure to organophosphates and impaired cognitive function."

Pesticides prevent millions of people from starving to death and from contracting disease, but they are also harmful to humans under certain circumstances. Derived from World War II nerve gas agents, organophosphate pesticides are the most widely used insecticides in the world. They are used extensively in agriculture, by the military and also for domestic purposes.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) organophosphate pesticides are one of the most hazardous pesticides to vertebrate animals, responsible for many cases of poisoning worldwide.

The toxic effects of high level poisoning are well established but the possibility that long-term low-level exposure to OPs in doses below that causing acute toxicity causes ill health is controversial.

"In the UK a number of occupational groups have expressed concern that their health has been affected by exposure to organophosphates," explains Dr Virginia Harrison (Open University), co-author of the study. This includes sheep farmers, who between 1988 and 1991 were required to dip sheep yearly in pesticide formulations containing OPs. Between 1985 and 1998 more than 600 reports of ill health following exposure to sheep dip were received by a government adverse reaction surveillance scheme.

Other groups affected include:

(1) Gulf War Veterans, who were exposed to pesticides on a daily basis during their tour of duty to protect them from pests such as sand flies, mosquitoes and fleas which carry infectious diseases

(2) airline pilots and cabin crew, who can be exposed to organophosphates in engine oil.

The researchers hope their findings will be of interest to Government advisory committees and departments who are currently reviewing the neurotoxicity of low level exposure to OPs; as well as farmers, Gulf War veterans and aviation workers who believe their health has been affected by exposure to OPs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London - UCL. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sarah Mackenzie Ross, I. C. McManus, Virginia Harrison, Oliver Mason. Neurobehavioral problems following low-level exposure to organophosphate pesticides: a systematic and meta-analytic review. Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 2012; 1 DOI: 10.3109/10408444.2012.738645

Cite This Page:

University College London - UCL. "Brain and nervous system damaged by low-level exposure to organophosphate pesticides." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121202113712.htm>.
University College London - UCL. (2012, December 2). Brain and nervous system damaged by low-level exposure to organophosphate pesticides. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121202113712.htm
University College London - UCL. "Brain and nervous system damaged by low-level exposure to organophosphate pesticides." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121202113712.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hundreds in Virginia Turn out for a Free Clinic to Manage Health

Hundreds in Virginia Turn out for a Free Clinic to Manage Health

AFP (July 24, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th - prompting hundreds in Virginia to turn out for a free clinic run by “Remote Area Medical”. Duration 02:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. 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