Selected Article


Pesticide Exposure and Asthma


Exposureto pesticides can trigger or exacerbate asthma, induce bronchospasm, orincrease bronchial hyperreactivity. Pesticides that inhibit cholinesterase canprovoke bronchospasm through increased cholinergic activity. At high doses,certain pesticides can act as airway irritants. Low levels that areinsufficient to cause acute poisoning can trigger severe reactions in thosewithout a previous diagnosis of asthma. Pesticides linked to asthma, wheezing,and hyperreactive airway disease include: 1. The antimicrobials chlorine andchloramine; 2. the fumigants metam sodium and ethylene oxide; 3. the fungicidescaptafol, chlorothalonil, maneb/mancozeb and other ethylenbisdithiocarbamates;4. the herbicides alachlor, atrazine, EPTC, and paraquat; 5. and theinsecticides carbofuran, chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, malathion, pyrethrins,pyrethrum, and synthetic pyrethroids. The Children’s Health Study, apopulation-based study in southern California, found that children diagnosed bythe age of five were more likely to have asthma if exposed to pesticides.Wheezing in Iowa farm children was associated with herbicide exposure, but moststudies show farmers’ children to be at lower risk of allergic disease,including hay fever. SENSOR (Sentinel Event Notification System ForOccupational Risks) found that 3.4% of 534 cases of work-related asthma inMichigan and New Jersey, were pesticide related. 2.6% of 1101 cases ofoccupational asthma reported in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and NewJersey were pesticide related. Dyspnea and cough were found in over 78% ofworkers on apricot farms where large amounts of sulfur were used. Somehousehold aerosol sprays trigger symptoms and impair lung function inasthmatics, and use of mosquito coils inside the home was associated with ahigher prevalence of asthma. Keywords:Pesticide,Exposure, Asthma