Data from 18,782 North Carolina and Iowa farmers linked use of insecticides, including organophosphates and organochlorines, to reports of reoccurring headaches, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, hand tremors, numbness and other neurological symptoms. Some of the insecticides addressed by the study are still on the market, but some, including DDT, have been banned or restricted.
These findings will be available online in April, and published in the June issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. The research is part of the ongoing Agricultural Health Study funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute, two of the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The NIEHS researchers examined questionnaires completed by farmers on lifetime exposure to herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and fumigants, and their history of 23 neurological symptoms. Those who reported experiencing more than 10 symptoms during the year prior to completing a study questionnaire were classified as having high levels of symptoms.
The AHS (http://www.aghealth.org/) is designed to investigate the effects of environmental, occupational, dietary, and genetic factors on the health of the agricultural population. The study will provide information that agricultural workers can use in making decisions about their health and the health of their families.
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