-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- People who work near fields
sprayed with pesticides face an increased risk for Parkinson's
disease, a new study has found.
Not just agricultural workers but teachers, firefighters, clerks
and others whose workplaces are near fields in California's Central
Valley are at greater risk for the degenerative disorder of the
central nervous system, according to researchers from the
University of California, Los Angeles.
"This stuff drifts," the study's senior author, Dr. Beate Ritz, an epidemiology professor at the UCLA School of Public Health, said in a university news release. "It's borne by the wind and can wind up on plants and animals, float into open doorways or kitchen windows -- up to several hundred meters from the fields."
The study focused on three pesticides used on the fields: the
fungicides maneb and ziram and the herbicide paraquat. The
researchers estimated the exposure of 703 people who lived or
worked in the area over a 25-year span, taking into account how far
they were from the fields sprayed with the chemicals. About half of
the people in the study had Parkinson's.
The risk for Parkinson's rose threefold for those who worked
near fields sprayed with the three pesticides, the study found.
Exposure to just ziram and paraquat raised risk by 80 percent.
Earlier analysis by the researchers had found a 75 percent jump in
risk for people who lived near fields where maneb and paraquat were
The findings suggest that the chemicals act together in
increasing the risk for Parkinson's, according to the study,
published online in the
European Journal of Epidemiology.
"Our estimates of risk for ambient exposure in the workplaces were actually greater than for exposure at residences," said Ritz. "And, of course, people who both live and work near these fields experience the greatest ... risk. These workplace results give us independent confirmation of our earlier work that focused only on residences, and of the damage these chemicals are doing."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers tips on
reducing pesticide risk.
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