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Pesticides linked to asthma

A new American scientific study clearly links exposure to commonly used pesticides increases the risk of asthma. Over 23 million Americans suffer from asthma, of which almost 9 million are minors.

The new scientific study of nearly 20,000 American farmers was presented on Sunday to the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress in Stockholm, Denmark. It was carried out by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Of the 19,704 farmers included in the study, 127 had doctor diagnosed allergic asthma and 314 had non-allergic asthma.

The study concludes that a history of high pesticide exposure shows a doubling of asthma risk. The link remained statistically significant after adjusting for a variety of potentially confounding factors including age, smoking, body weight, and state of residence.

During the study, 452 farmers aged 30 and over developed asthma. Farmers in Iowa and North Carolina, who used around 16 chemical sprays, were found to be most at risk.

Overall, 16 of the pesticides studied were associated with asthma: 12 with the allergic variety of asthma and 4 with the non-allergic type. Coumaphos, EPTC, lindane, parathion, heptachlor, and 2,4,5-TP were most strongly linked to allergic asthma. For non-allergic asthma, DDT, malathion, and phorate had the strongest effect.

“This is the first study with sufficient power to evaluate individual pesticides and adult asthma among individuals who routinely apply pesticides. Moreover, this is the only study to date to do this for allergic and non-allergic asthma separately,” a spokesman for the researchers said.

“The possible scope of the link between pesticides and adult-onset asthma raises a problem of broader interest, given the considerable quantities of pesticides used in the domestic and urban environments. Their impact on a population which, while less exposed, has a greater risk of allergies and a higher prevalence of asthma, remains to be determined.”

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