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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2009 Mar;212(2):186-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2008.06.002.

Agricultural pesticides and risk of childhood cancers.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, TAM HSC School of Rural Public Health, College Station, TX 77843-1266, USA.


Agricultural pesticide applications have the potential for significant drift beyond the target spray area and may result in exposure to non-farming residents in surrounding communities. Using geographic information system (GIS) methods, 1778 childhood cancer cases and 1802 controls born in Texas between 1990 and 1998 were assigned probable agricultural pesticide exposure based on proximity of birth residence to crop fields. Multivariate modeling was used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for selected cancers. For most childhood cancers, we found no evidence of elevated risk associated with residential proximity at birth to cropland. There was an overall pattern of increased risk for germ-cell tumors but the odds ratios were based on few number of exposed cases. There was also some indication of increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and Burkitt lymphoma, but point estimates were imprecise and not statistically significant. Previous studies have assessed pesticide exposure primarily based on parental occupational history or household use, while our focus was on agricultural pesticides and so may represent a different array of chemical agents occurring at lower doses.

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