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Daily News Blog

11
Aug

Acute Kidney Failure Higher Among Farmers: High-Middle-Low Income Countries Suffer Disparities

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2022) A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health finds that Brazilian agricultural workers are more likely to die from acute kidney failure (AKF) than other acute illnesses. Among the agricultural workers, the prevalence of AKF is higher for individuals at younger ages, who are female, and located in regions south of chemical use, particularly rural areas. However, the AKF mortality rate in urban areas is also increasing, but not as fast as in rural areas.

Over six million people in the U.S. have kidney disease (i.e., nephritis [kidney inflammation], nephrotic syndrome (improper protein filtration), and nephrosis). Although many studies find an association between exposure to environmental contaminants like pesticides and chronic kidney disease (CKD), the association between pesticides and acute kidney failure remains unclear. CKD is a risk factor for AKF, and other environmental factors can increase the risk of AKF mortality. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need for comprehensive information regarding co-occurring exposure patterns and disease prevalence that can have global implications. The study notes, “Our findings reinforce the need for more robust epidemiological studies that account for co-exposures and conditions of agricultural work in the relationship between pesticide exposure and kidney health in Brazil.”

To investigate trends in AKF and pesticide exposure, researchers used the death certificate (1980-2014) of agricultural workers in southern and Midwest Brazil in regions of intense chemical use. A joinpoint regression (an analytic tool used to measure epidemiological trends) calculates the changes in AKF mortality rate each year among rural/urban areas. Researchers compare AFK mortality among agricultural workers and the nonagricultural population, adjusting for age, sex, region, education, and race. The results find AKF mortality increases for agricultural workers regardless of region (urban/rural), with the greatest increase occurring between the mid-1990s and 2000s. Moreover, agricultural workers who are younger, female, and living in southern regions with higher pesticide expenses are more likely to die from AKF.

Many studies document pesticides’ impacts on kidney function, finding a range of chemicals linked to kidney damage. Even among the 40 most commonly used lawn care pesticides, 80 percent have associations with kidney or liver damage. These chemicals include widely used herbicides like glyphosate and organophosphate insecticides like malathion. Glyphosate was initially created as a chelating agent (bonding ions and molecules to metal ions) to form strong chemical bonds with metals. In 2013, the Center for Public Integrity highlighted that glyphosate bonds with toxic heavy metals in the environment, such as cadmium and arsenic, forming stable compounds. These compounds are present in food and water for consumption and do not break down until they reach the kidneys. Thus, farmworkers exposed to glyphosate are likely to have these toxic metals in their kidneys. Malathion is an organophosphate class insecticide used primarily for mosquito control. Individuals may encounter malathion through consuming food produced in chemical-dependent agriculture or drinking water, or as a result of drift from pesticide application and public use. A study published in October 2021 found significant associations with malathion exposure, low kidney function, and increased risk of CKD. A 2022 study found that 68 percent of well water sampled in Sri Lanka (south-east Asian) contains at least one pesticide above the global drinking water guidelines, including the organophosphate insecticide diazinon. Individuals that reported drinking well water during their lifetime had a significantly (6.7 times) lower kidney health on average than those who never drank well water. However, organophosphates are also known to have high acute toxicity that can directly impact the onset of AKF, in combination with chronic health effects (e.g., CKD, kidney toxic drug ingestion, iodinated contrast, heart failure, liver diseases, sepsis, diabetes). Therefore, protection from pesticide exposure is critical for those working and living in chemical-intensive agricultural areas.

AKF causes biochemical (biological) abnormalities that alter the metabolic system, and delayed diagnosis and treatment are some of the factors that result in a high mortality rate. Overall, trends in AKF are increasing in southern Europe, South America, and North America with a higher incidence in low-to-middle-income countries. However, in high-income countries, age (elderly) and socioeconomic factors (racial disparities) play more of a role in AKF incidence rates. In low-to-middle-income countries, AKF incidence rates are higher among younger adults and children. Most cases of AKF occur via accident or intentional organophosphate poisoning, as the toxicity makes them lethal substances.

This study is one of the first to assess AKF mortality trends, specifically in rural areas or areas with pesticide use in Brazil. The study concludes, “[R]ural and urban municipalities and municipalities with low, medium and high pesticide-per-capita expenditure in the Brazilian south and midwest experienced an increase in AKF mortality in recent years compared to the whole studied period. These results reinforce the hypothesis that different and ‘traditional’ risk factors can contribute to the development of AKF in urban and rural areas.”

The kidneys are one of the most important organs for filtering waste out of our bodies. However, kidneys are often the main target of pesticide toxicity mediated through oxidative stress. Therefore, we must protect human and ecological health by shifting to organic/regenerative systems to limit exposure to these toxic chemicals. Additionally, buyinggrowing, and supporting organic can help eliminate the extensive use of pesticides in the environment. Organic agriculture has many health and environmental benefits, eliminating the need for chemical-intensive agricultural practices. Considering glyphosate levels in the human body can decrease by 70% through a one-week switch to an organic diet, purchasing organic food whenever possible—which eliminates toxic pesticide use—limits overall exposure (toxic body burden) and resulting adverse health effects. Learn about pesticides’ impacts on human health by visiting Beyond Pesticides’ pages on kidney/renal cancer and diseaseoxidative stress, and other diseases in the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database. This database supports the need for strategic action to shift away from pesticide dependency. For more information on how organic is the right choice for consumers and farmers, see the Beyond Pesticides webpage, Health Benefits of Organic Agriculture

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

Source: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

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One Response to “Acute Kidney Failure Higher Among Farmers: High-Middle-Low Income Countries Suffer Disparities”

  1. 1
    Patricia Chambers Says:

    As I’ve stated numerous times, government seems to show immense partiality to big biz other than humans and animals. Makes me sick honestly. You seriously need to step up and ban these pesticides immediately.

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