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Environ Health Perspect. 2019 Jan;127(1):17005. doi: 10.1289/EHP3713.

High Pesticide Exposure Events and Olfactory Impairment among U.S. Farmers.

Author information

1
Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA.
2
Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch, NIEHS, NIH, DHHS, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA.
3
Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, DHHS, Rockville, Maryland, USA.
4
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Olfactory impairment (OI) is common among older adults and independently predicts all-cause mortality and the risk of several major neurodegenerative diseases. Pesticide exposure may impair olfaction, but empirical evidence is lacking.

OBJECTIVE:

We aimed to examine high pesticide exposure events (HPEEs) in relation to self-reported OI in participants in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS).

METHODS:

We conducted multivariable logistic regression to examine the associations between HPEEs reported at enrollment (1993–1997) and self-reported OI at the latest AHS follow-up (2013–2015) among 11,232 farmers, using farmers without HPEEs as the reference or unexposed group.

RESULTS:

A total of 1,186 (10.6%) farmers reported OI. A history of HPEEs reported at enrollment was associated with a higher likelihood of reporting OI two decades later {odds ratio [Formula: see text] [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.28, 1.73]}. In the analyses on the HPEE involving the highest exposure, the association appears to be stronger when there was a [Formula: see text] delay between HPEE and washing with soap and water [e.g., [Formula: see text] (95% CI: 1.48, 2.89) for 4-6 h vs. [Formula: see text] (95% CI: 1.11, 1.75) for [Formula: see text]]. Further, significant associations were observed both for HPEEs involving the respiratory or digestive tract [[Formula: see text] (95% CI: 1.22, 1.92)] and dermal contact [[Formula: see text] (95% CI: 1.22, 1.78)]. Finally, we found significant associations with several specific pesticides involved in the highest exposed HPEEs, including two organochlorine insecticides (DDT and lindane) and four herbicides (alachlor, metolachlor, 2,4-D, and pendimethalin). HPEEs that occurred after enrollment were also associated with OI development.

CONCLUSIONS:

HPEEs may cause long-lasting olfactory deficit. Future studies should confirm these findings with objectively assessed OI and also investigate potential mechanisms. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP3713.

PMID:
30648881
DOI:
10.1289/EHP3713
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