We are no stranger to the fact that exposure to pesticides has a negative impact on one’s health.
Pesticide exposure has been linked to several serious adverse health effects, including respiratory problems, birth defects, cancer, and an increased risk of heart disease.
And even though farmers and agricultural workers are most affected by exposure to pesticides, even individuals in the surrounding area or environment where the pesticide has been used can also unknowingly suffer from side effects of the toxic chemical.
Did you know that these harmful chemicals are so controversial that there’s one pesticide that actually has a lawsuit under its name?
If you haven’t heard of the toxic pesticide Paraquat, then you should remember its name now.
The first Paraquat lawsuit has been filed in 2017 against the manufacturers of the pesticide.
The complaint has been filed in behalf of farmers and agricultural workers who were subsequently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after pesticide exposure.
In this article, you will learn more about how pesticide exposure affects people who are exposed to pesticides in the workplace.
A new study took a closer look at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in people who are exposed to pesticides at work.
Do Pesticides Cause Health Problems?
Pesticides can cause both short-term and long-term or chronic adverse effects on human health.
These adverse effects can occur months or even years after pesticide exposure.
Some short-term or acute adverse effects of these chemicals on our health are rashes, blindness, blisters, stinging eyes, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and even death.
On the other hand, chronic adverse effects from pesticides include birth defects, cancer, immunotoxicity, developmental and neurological toxicity, and disruption of the endocrine system.
Some group of people are more vulnerable to the impact of pesticide exposure. For instance, babies and young children are more defenseless against the toxic effects of these harmful chemicals.
This is also true for farmers and licensed applicators of these chemicals who receive greater exposures of pesticides at work.
Pesticide Exposure at Work Linked to an Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
According to research published in the journal Heart, Hispanic and Latino people who were exposed to pesticide in the workplace were twice as likely to have heart disease than those who didn’t work with the chemicals.
The study has evaluated risk factors associated with chronic health issues in the Latino and Hispanic population.
And one of the risk factors considered is the link between pesticides and cardiovascular disease, specifically how the chemical affects the workers’ cardiovascular health.
The researchers observed 7,404 working adults enrolled in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos.
Participants were given a questionnaire that measured their exposure to harmful chemicals including pesticides, with questions regarding their physical activity, diet, and alcohol consumption.
The researchers then gathered information about the participants’ blood pressure, medication use, medical history, blood work, and electrocardiography, which measures electrical activity in the heart.
Through the study, researchers found that around 5 to 9 percent of the participants reported exposure to pesticides, metals, and solvent at work.
Furthermore, those who said they experience pesticide exposure regularly were twice as likely to have some type of heart disease.
While those participants who had occupational exposure to metals were four times more likely to suffer from atrial fibrillation or rapid heart rate.
Pesticides and the Risk of Heart Disease
According to the findings of another research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, occupational exposure to high levels of pesticides increased the risk of heart disease and stroke in a generally healthy group of Japanese American men in Hawaii.
The findings came from Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program, which enrolled more than 8,000 Japanese American men between 1965 and 1968, who were 45 to 68 years of age.
The participants have undergone several medical examinations and researchers have been since tracking all cause of death and other disease outcomes. Data from the long-term heart study on rates of heart disease and stroke were available up to December 1999.
Exposure to the chemical was measured with the use of a scale from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration which measures the length and intensity of occupational exposure with each job.
In the first 10 years of follow-up, the researchers found that 45% of the participants with high pesticide exposure had a higher risk of heart disease or stroke as compared to men who were not exposed to chemicals at the workplace.
These effects from the exposure, however, tapered off after 10 years.
With this, the researchers that the maximum effect of exposure on heart disease and stroke risk was within the first 10 years.
After 34 years, the link between occupational exposure to high levels of pesticides in the workplace and heart disease and stroke is no longer considered to be statistically significant.
The study was conducted only among men of Japanese descent, and the findings may not apply to women or other races or group of people, although similar results were found in Taiwan for high pesticide exposures during middle age.
Zara Berg, lead author of the study and adjunct science professor at Fort Peck Community College in Poplar, Montana, said, “Previous studies have found that men and women may respond differently to pesticide exposure.”
“One class of pesticides may give women heart attacks but not men, and other pesticides may give men heart disease but not women. Hormones may also play a role in the impact of pesticide exposure and the development of cardiovascular disease,” she added.
In a news release, Dr. Beatriz L. Rodriguez, co-author of the study and a professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Hawaii at Manoa said that the findings emphasize the importance of using personal protective equipment when handling pesticide on the job and the importance of documenting occupational exposure in medical histories.