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Seasonal variations in cholinesterase activity, nerve conduction velocity and lung function among sprayers exposed to mixture of pesticides

Abstract

Pesticide spraying operation is associated with the increased risk of adverse health effects among sprayers who do not follow safe farm work practices. A study was conducted among pesticide sprayers in North India to evaluate the clinical and subclinical variations in their vital health parameters before and after the pesticide spraying season. Blood cholinesterase levels, pulmonary function test, nerve conduction velocity and self-reported symptoms were studied among 18 eligible and consenting male sprayers. Mean acetylcholinesterase activity was reduced by 55 % in the post-exposure assessment (P < 0.001) as compared to pre-exposure levels. Mean forced expiratory volume in 1 s was 20 % lower in the post-exposure assessment as compared to the pre-exposure level (P < 0.05). No significant change was observed in the motor and sensory nerve conduction velocity in the median nerve of sprayers before and after the spraying activity. Also, no significant variation was observed with respect to self-reported symptoms except weakness in arms and legs (P < 0.05). The significant decline in lung function and acetylcholinesterase level after pesticide exposure reflects the strongly negative effect of exposure to pesticides during spraying activity. More longitudinal studies among pesticide sprayers must be undertaken to further substantiate the cause–effect relationship between pesticide exposure and its subclinical effects. There is a strong necessity to minimise the exposure through the use of personal protective equipment in pesticide sprayers.

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Acknowledgments

Manoj Kumar Pathak acknowledges the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (Govt. of India) for the Senior Research Fellowship provided for the project. Mr. Ritul Kamal, a technical assistant, is hereby acknowledged for the statistical analysis of the study.

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Correspondence to C. Kesavachandran.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Pathak, M.K., Fareed, M., Srivastava, A.K. et al. Seasonal variations in cholinesterase activity, nerve conduction velocity and lung function among sprayers exposed to mixture of pesticides. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20, 7296–7300 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-013-1743-5

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Keywords

  • Pesticides
  • Seasonal variation
  • Cholinesterase
  • Nerve conduction velocity
  • Lung function