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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 54-57

A study of neurologic symptoms on exposure to organophosphate pesticides in the children of agricultural workers


1 Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Biochemistry, Acharya Nagarajuna University, Andhra Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
S K Rastogi
CSIR Emeritus Scientist, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Post Box No. 80, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Lucknow - 226 001
India
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Source of Support: Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow (UP), India, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.72242

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Pesticides are used extensively throughout the world in agriculture and in pest control as well as for community health purposes. Organophosphate (OP) pesticide self-poisoning is an important clinical problem in rural regions of the developing world that kills an estimated 200,000 people every year. Unintentional poisoning kills far fewer people but is an apparent problem in places where highly toxic OP pesticides are available. Neurologic dysfunction is the best documented health effect of pesticide exposure. High-level exposure has both acute and long-term neurologic signs and symptoms, and adverse effects have been reported in most type of pesticides, including organophosphate (OP), carbamate, organochlorine, and pyrethroid insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fumigants. Acute OP pesticide exposure can involve in wide range of both central and peripheral neurologic symptoms. Increased neurologic symptom prevalence may provide early evidence of neurologic dysfunctions, before clinically measurable signs are evident. In this study, we analyzed the cross-sectional data on neurologic signs and symptoms from 225 rural children, both males (n = 132) and females (n = 93) who were occupationally and paraoccupationally exposed to methyl OPs (dichlorvos, fenthion, malathion, methyl parathion) and ethyl OPs (chlorpyrifos, diazinon, ethyl parathion) as they belonged to agricultural families handling, mixing, and spraying the OP pesticides. The children completed a specially designed questionnaire (Q16) on neurologic symptoms associated with pesticide exposure with their parental help. A suitable reference group consisting of rural children (n = 50) never involved in pesticide handling (neither outdoor nor indoor) belonging to similar socioeconomic strata included in the study to compare the prevalence of various neurologic symptoms between the two groups. Among all the neurologic self-reported symptoms, headache, watering in eyes, and burning sensation in eye/face were the most important clinical manifestations attributed to OP pesticide exposure. These symptoms could probably be the consequence of chronic effects of most pesticides on the central nervous system. The muscarinic symptoms reported the maximum prevalence of salivation (18.22%), whereas lacrimation was observed in 17.33% cases, followed by diarrhea in 9.33% cases. The nicotinic clinical manifestations of acute OP poisoning revealed excessive sweating in 13.78% cases and tremors in 9.3% cases followed by mydriasis in 8.4% exposed children. The characteristic cholinergic symptoms, such as insomnia, headache, muscle cramps, weakness, and anorexia were also reported by both male and female exposed children. The high frequency of neurologic symptoms observed in the study may be due to parasympathetic hyperactivity due to the accumulated ACh resulting from AChE inhibition.






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