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Daily News Blog

18
Jan

Chemical Exposure Monitoring Documents Widespread Pesticide Exposure to People and Pets

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2021) A study published in Environmental Science & Technology adds to the growing body of scientific research verifying the use of silicone devices as an effective tool for biomonitoring and disease prognosis, finding widespread exposure to people and pets. Researchers can identify the presence of chemical contaminants among humans and their canine companions occupying similar spaces using silicone monitoring devices (e.g., wristbands, collars, etc.). Although scientists can gauge chemical contamination with silicone devices, anthropoid (human) diseases can take many years to develop, even after initial contaminant exposure. Identifying chronic human diseases from pollutants remains challenging as scientists lack a full understanding of mechanisms involved in chemical-driven diseases development. However, dogs develop comparable anthropomorphic (human-like) diseases (e.g., cancer, organ damage) from susceptibility to the same environmental contaminants, but at a much quicker pace. Therefore, this research highlights the significance of identifying chemicals associated with diseases that are common across multiple species over longer disease latency periods. The researchers note, “These results, in combination with our recent study investigating uptake rates of chemicals on wristbands, demonstrate that silicone samplers can be used to assess average integrated exposure over time (in this case over a week of exposure). Studies such as these could aid in identifying important health risks that could be mitigated in order to reduce the burden of these chronic diseases in both people and dogs.”

Several research studies detail disease effects from contaminant exposure, including details pinpointing environmental contaminant absorption and relative exposure patterns that cause these diseases. However, scientists can successfully use silicone to detect environmental contaminants. The silicone membrane mimics human and animal cell membrane absorption, thus acting as a good indicator of contamination absorption and relative exposure. A COSECHA study found that silicone wristbands quantify pesticide exposure, accurately identifying 72 different pesticides exposed to teenage girls in the Salinas Valley region. Therefore, these devices represent a non-invasive tool that can identify exposure to multiple pollutants in various settings, including occupational, household, and ecosystem.

The researchers aim to determine whether silicone wristbands and dog tags accurately predict pesticide exposure. Using a cohort of 30 people and their pet canines, researchers compared the presence of pesticides in silicone samples with participants’ urine samples. Gas chromatography analyses identified pesticides in silicone samplers, while researchers examined urine samples for pesticide metabolites or breakdown products.  

The results find over 70 percent of silicone samples detect the presence of multiple pesticides detectable, such as insecticides, including permethrinfipronil, and N, N diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) (a highly toxic insect repellent and synergist). Both DEET and fipronil are detectable in 100 percent of human and dog silicone devices, with DEET concentrations in silicone device samples associated with chemical levels in urine. Due to the use of fipronil as flea and tick treatment, participants reporting recent flea/tick treatments have higher levels of fipronil in both silicone and urine samples.

Humans and dogs often occupy similar spaces, exposing both species to the same chemical contaminants, like pesticides. Pesticide exposure from environmental use (i.e., on gardens, turf, public field/property, etc.), or products containing pesticides (i.e., pet shampoos, disinfectants, bug sprays, etc.), is unavoidable—regardless of pesticide product labels warning clients to avoid direct contact with clothes or skin. As the prevalence of environmental pollutants increases annually, the disease implications associated with the contaminants may lack proper regulatory evaluation. Thus, silicone monitoring devices can capture the chemical exposures in combination with adverse health effects on dogs, acting as a proxy for human health effects. Since dogs share a combination of gene functions and pathophysiological (biological processes associated with disease or injury) similarities to humans, canines can considerably improve research in biomedical studies when assessing cross-species health in the shared environment. Furthermore, humans and dogs share over 360 analogous diseases, including various cancers (i.e., testicularbreast canceretc.). However, human disease development can remain latent for years, despite environmental pollutant exposure. Because dogs have a shorter disease latency period, they play a significant role as early warning species for disease in humans. Therefore, using data from silicone dog tags can help assess relative pesticide exposure to determine potential health effects, especially for highly latent diseases that appear much soon in dogs.

The study finds permethrin, fipronil, chlorpyrifos, and DEET are present in silicone and urinary samples, with DEET being the most abundant in both humans and dogs. Furthermore, silicone devices most accurately measured concentrations of permethrin and DEET detectable in urine samples. Although the study finds a strong correlation between chemical concentrations from silicone and urine samples, dogs’ exposure profile may in some cases differ from humans. Pesticide concentrations may be higher among dogs as they encounter pesticides more frequently through grooming behavior, diet, or conventional pet products. Numerous flea and tick prevention products (i.e., collars, topical treatments, sprays, dust) include pesticides like synthetic pyrethroids (i.e., permethrin) and fipronil. A common trait among these pesticides is their toxicity. Fipronil can cause aggression, kidney damage, and thyroid disruption among pets. Synthetic pyrethroids, like permethrin, are of principal concern in multi-pet homes as cats are highly sensitive to these synthetic pyrethroids, which trigger seizures, tremors, muscle spasms, and even death. Although there are claims that pyrethroid toxicity is absent in dogs, a 2014 study finds that tremor-salivation syndrome appears in canines after exposure to two different classes of pyrethroids. In humans, synthetic pyrethroids prompt behavioral disordersADHDdelayed cognitive and motor development, and premature puberty in boys. Often, manufacturers and pesticides applicators use permethrin in conjunction with other pesticides (i.e., imidacloprid) and chemical synergists (i.e., piperonyl butoxide [PBO]), which enhance the toxicity of the active ingredients in pesticide formulations. With the high degree of human contact with pets, through cuddling and hugs and kisses, those using pet products containing pesticides put themselves, children, and those with comorbidities at greater risk of high contaminant exposure.

Over 85 million people in the U.S. have pets, and 88 million U.S. residents use household pesticides. Many of the chemicals in the study are also some of the commonly used chemicals on lawns and landscapes (i.e., permethrin, a top 10 health concern, and fipronil, a top 10 ecological concern). Thus, silicone devices can investigate the relationship between disease development and environmental exposure patterns across species.

We must have a full knowledge of chemicals we are commonly exposed to in our environment, especially as EPA and state regulatory agencies fail to fully assess the cause of pesticide-induced diseases of these environmental contaminants and their interactions. Harms associated with contaminant exposure should end through policy reform and the adoption of practices that eliminate toxic pesticide use, especially in pet care products. Far too many diseases in the U.S. have associations with pesticide exposure. Thus, eliminating pesticide use is crucial in safeguarding public health, especially for ecosystems and organisms vulnerable to pesticide toxicity. Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database is an invaluable resource for additional scientific literature that documents elevated rates of chronic diseases and illnesses among people exposed to pesticides. Additionally, learn more about how to protect your pet from pesticides and the least-toxic controls for flea and tick infestation. See also Beyond Pesticides’ ManageSafe pages on flea and tick management.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Environmental Science & Technology

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