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J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2013 Jul;23(4):363-70. doi: 10.1038/jes.2012.115. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Exposure to herbicides in house dust and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA.


We examine the association between exposure to herbicides and childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Dust samples were collected from homes of 269 ALL cases and 333 healthy controls (<8 years of age at diagnosis/reference date and residing in same home since diagnosis/reference date) in California, using a high-volume surface sampler or household vacuum bags. Amounts of agricultural or professional herbicides (alachlor, metolachlor, bromoxynil, bromoxynil octanoate, pebulate, butylate, prometryn, simazine, ethalfluralin, and pendimethalin) and residential herbicides (cyanazine, trifluralin, 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA), mecoprop, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), chlorthal, and dicamba) were measured. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by logistic regression. Models included the herbicide of interest, age, sex, race/ethnicity, household income, year and season of dust sampling, neighborhood type, and residence type. The risk of childhood ALL was associated with dust levels of chlorthal; compared to homes with no detections, ORs for the first, second, and third tertiles were 1.49 (95% CI: 0.82-2.72), 1.49 (95% CI: 0.83-2.67), and 1.57 (95% CI: 0.90-2.73), respectively (P-value for linear trend=0.05). The magnitude of this association appeared to be higher in the presence of alachlor. No other herbicides were identified as risk factors of childhood ALL. The data suggest that home dust levels of chlorthal, and possibly alachlor, are associated with increased risks of childhood ALL.

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