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From December 18, 2000

Study Shows Effects on the Immune System Associated wtih Living Near a Pesticide Dump Site

A recent study, published in the December 2000 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives (Vol. 108, No. 12), shows that residents living near a pesticide dump site in Aberdeen, North Carolina experience higher levels of pesticide plasma contamination and effects on the immune system. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina, was designed as a part of a larger study to evaluate effects on the immune system in a community living near a Superfund site containing organochlorine pesticides (lindane, DDT), volatile organic compounds and metals.

Each of 302 residents of Aberdeen and neighboring communities provided a blood specimen, underwent a skin test, and answered a questionnaire. Blood specimens were analyzed for organochlorine pesticides, immune markers, and micronuclei. DDE, a breakdown product of DDT, was detected in the blood in a significant number of participants. Residents who lived closer to the dump sites also experienced effects on the immune system, including decreased mitogen-induced lymphoproliferative activity. Residential location was not consistently associated with frequency of micronuclei or skin test responses.