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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(4), 3995-4006; doi:10.3390/ijerph110403995

Neurological Effects of Pesticide Use among Farmers in China

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1 Department of Neurology, Chinese PLA General Hospital, No. 28 Fuxing Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100853, China 2 School of Management and Economics, Beijing Institute of Technology, 5 South Zhongguancun Street, Beijing 100081, China 3 School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA
* Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 March 2014 / Revised: 31 March 2014 / Accepted: 1 April 2014 / Published: 14 April 2014
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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.
Keywords: China; health effect; neurological deficit; pesticide overuse China; health effect; neurological deficit; pesticide overuse
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Li, Y.; Zhang, C.; Yin, Y.; Cui, F.; Cai, J.; Chen, Z.; Jin, Y.; Robson, M.G.; Li, M.; Ren, Y.; Huang, X.; Hu, R. Neurological Effects of Pesticide Use among Farmers in China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 3995-4006.

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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert