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Crit Rev Toxicol. 2018 Apr;48(4):297-311. doi: 10.1080/10408444.2017.1423463. Epub 2018 Feb 1.

Pyrethroid epidemiology: a quality-based review.

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a Burns Epidemiology Consulting, LLC , Sanford , MI , USA.
b Pastoor Science Communications, LLC , Hillsborough , NC , USA.


Pyrethroids are commonly used around the home and in agricultural production to control insects. Human contact to one or more pyrethroid insecticides is likely. Numerous epidemiology studies have evaluated the association between health outcomes in humans and pyrethroid exposure. The purpose of this review was to identify and evaluate the quality of pyrethroid-related epidemiology studies that addressed chronic health effects, and compare findings with animal toxicology studies. We evaluated the quality of 61 studies published between 2000 and 2016 by using elements of outcome, exposure metric, exposure level, and study design. None of the 61 publications demonstrated strong quality for all elements. A few of the outcome measures were strong, particularly those relying upon medical diagnoses. Most of the pyrethroid epidemiology studies used a poor exposure metric, relying upon a single sample of pyrethroid urinary metabolites, which is subject to misclassification of past exposures. In addition, many studies were a cross-sectional design, preventing an evaluation of the temporality of the exposure-disease association. Furthermore, none of the effects observed in the epidemiological literature was concordant with toxicological effects noted in extensive testing of pyrethroids in animals. In order to provide more robust data on potential health outcomes from low dose exposure to pyrethroid insecticides, future epidemiological studies should fully characterize an adverse outcome, include exposure validation components, and quantify exposure over time.


BEES-C; Pyrethroid insecticide; biomonitoring; hormones; human exposure; male reproduction; plausibility; quality assessment

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