Date: 08 May 2009

Cholinesterase activity, pesticide exposure and health impact in a population exposed to organophosphates

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Biological monitoring is an essential component for assessing the exposure of individuals to organophosphate pesticides. The aim of this study was to determine cholinesterase activity, pesticide exposure and health effects in the exposed population.


A total of 90 individuals occupationally exposed to OPs and 30 controls were recruited in this study. Erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) activities were measured in two periods of low- and high-exposure.


There were statistically significant decrease in AChE and BuChE activities in the high-exposure period (20.73 ± 0.99 U/gHb and 3.73 ± 0.19 U/mL, respectively, P < 0.001) compared to the low-exposure period (29.81 ± 1.19 U/gHb and 4.92 ± 0.19 U/mL, respectively). All enzyme activities in the exposed group were statistically lower than in the control group. Analysis of the relation between cholinesterase activity and symptoms showed significant evidences.


The results suggested the association between occupational pesticide exposure and inhibition of cholinesterases. Thus, medical monitoring of cholinesterase inhibition and intervention programs regarding safety practices during field work are important issues aimed at minimizing adverse health effects of pesticide.