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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Paraquat' Category


Residential Exposure to Agricultural Pesticides Increases Risk to Parkinson’s Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2009) Exposure to a mixture of the fungicide maneb and the herbicide paraquat significantly increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a new University of California, Berkeley study, “Parkinson’s Disease and Residential Exposure to Maneb and Paraquat from Agricultural Applications in the Central Valley of California.” Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the study findings show that exposure to both pesticides within 500 meters of an individual’s home increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s by 75 percent. For individuals 60 years of age or younger at the time of diagnosis, there is a more than four-fold increase in risk of the disease when exposed to a combination of maneb and paraquat and a more than doubling of risk when exposed to either maneb or paraquat alone. The Berkeley researchers used geographic information systems that analyzed data from California Pesticide Use Reports and land-use maps to calculate historical residential exposure to agricultural exposure to the two pesticides. From 1998 to 2007, the researchers enrolled 368 incident Parkinson’s disease cases and 341 population controls from California’s Central Valley and developed potential exposure estimates incurred between 1974 and 1999. Also published this month by some of […]



Gene-Pesticide Interactions Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2009) Pesticide exposure and genetic variability in the dopamine transporter (DAT), a protein that plays a central role in dopaminergic neurotransmission of the brain, interact to significantly increase the risk factor for Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers. The population based case-control study, “Dopamine Transporter Genetic Variants and Pesticides in Parkinson’s Disease,” builds on the existing body of evidence of animal data and epidemiological studies that link exposure to pesticides, including gene-pesticide interactions, to Parkinson’s disease. The UCLA researchers, looking at incident Parkinson’s disease cases in three rural counties in Central California, find DAT increases the risk of Parkinson’s when individuals have occupational or residential exposure to pesticides. This is the first epidemiologic study of Parkinson’s disease that relies on pesticide data that is from a record-based source versus recall-based data relying on individuals’ memory. The second most common neurodegenerative disease affecting more than one million people in the U.S., Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells in the substantia nigra region of the brain are damaged or destroyed and can no longer produce dopamine, a nerve-signaling molecule that helps control muscle movement. The new UCLA study is […]



Marijuana Growing Operations Pollute Federal Lands with Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2008) Some of America’s most pristine natural places are contaminated with toxic pesticides from illegal marijuana growing operations. Recent busts in the 1800 square mile Sequoia National Park revealed the use of imported and banned herbicides and insecticides in intensive growing sites. Rat poisons, or rodenticides, were also scattered around to kill small animals who might be tempted to nibble a plant. CNN reports that “millions of dollars are spent every year to find and uproot marijuana-growing operations on state and federal lands, but federal officials say no money is budgeted to clean up the environmental mess left behind after helicopters carry off the plants,” and this environmental mess is severe. The extent of marijuana growing on federal lands is unknown, but seven hundred grow sites were discovered in California in 2007-2008. Many of these operations are run by Mexican marijuana growing cartels and the chemicals used are illegally imported from Mexico. It is estimated that 1.5 lbs of fertilizers and pesticides is used for every 11.5 plants. For the five million plants uprooted in California in 2007, this amounts to over 650,000 lbs of fertilizers and pesticides. Agent Patrick Foy of the California Department of […]



Sri Lanka To Phase-out Paraquat Use

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2008) Sri Lanka started restricting the use of paraquat at the start of the new year and plans to have the herbicide completely banned within the next three years. According to Assistant Director of Agriculture K.B. Gunarathne, the decision was made in response to “the high rate of deaths due to paraquat poisoning caused by its inherent toxic properties.” Four to five hundred Sri Lankans die as a result of paraquat poisoning each year, and misuse of the herbicide is especially high in farming communities. Most paraquat poisonings occur as impulsive injections of chemical stored in or near the home, and injection of paraquat has a mortality around 65%, much higher than other agrochemicals. Also unlike other agrochemicals, Paraquat has no proven antidotes, and supportive care is relatively ineffective at preventing death. A substantial reduction of poisoning deaths is unlikely to be achieved by focusing solely on in hospital care. Sri Lanka will phase out paraquat in a series of steps, the first of which took place on January 1, 2008. Starting this year, the maximum concentration of paraquat ions in paraquat formulations will be 6.5%. In October 2006, the Pesticide Registrar mandated a reduction in […]



European Union Bans Paraquat

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2007) A European Union (EU) court banned the toxic weedkiller paraquat Wednesday, accepting arguments from the Swedish government that it does not meet EU health standards. Paraquat is the main ingredient in Swiss-based Syngenta’s Gramoxone – one of the world’s three most widely used weedkillers. Paraquat has been linked to reproductive effects and to Parkinson’s disease. Although paraquat had already been banned in 13 countries, including Sweden, Denmark, and Austria, in 2003, the Commission of European Communities (CEC) had issued an order approving the use of paraquat. Sweden challenged this order and the judges, in a previous decision, ruled that the CEC’s action showed a “disregard” of proper procedures. In the new ruling, the Court of First Instance criticizes EU regulators for not checking more carefully whether paraquat could harm humans and animals before authorizing it for sale in 2003. The court said the European Commission – which regulates herbicides and pesticides – was mistaken when it found no signs that the chemical could cause nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s and that regulators failed to review existing studies on paraquat – even though the chemical producers that asked for approval had not mentioned the adverse […]



Studies Strengthen Link Between Pesticides and Parkinson’s

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2007) Three recent studies were presented earlier this month at the Parkinson’s Disease Environmental Research meeting in California strengthening the theory that pesticides increase risk of the disease. The studies clarify how pesticide exposure can lead to the development of Parkinson’s. Two pesticides named in the studies are paraquat and dieldrin, both of which have been linked to Parkinson’s in the past. The three new studies, however, combine information from human and animal studies to show how exposure can lead to onset of the disease. As William Langston, M.D., founder of the Parkinson’s Institute, told Reuters, “All of these pieces really look like they are coming together now.” The first study examined a cohort of 80,000 licensed private pesticide applicators and spouses. Researchers found farm workers exposed to paraquat had twice the expected risk of Parkinson’s. The second and third studies address a protein called alpha-synuclein. The second study shows the protein builds up in rodents exposed to paraquat. The third study connects this protein to Parkinson’s by finding that the protein kills the dopamine-producing brain cells affected by the disease. One common difficulty in tracking pesticide-induced diseases is the amount of time that passes between […]



Study Sheds Light on Pesticides’ Link to Parkinson’s Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2007) Investigators at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have shed new light on the suspected role of pesticides in the development of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The study, “GST expression mediates dopaminergic neuron sensitivity in experimental parkinsonism” appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (January 31, 2007), illustrates the mechanism of nerve cell damage by pesticide exposure. The enzyme that prevents damage to the substantia nigra, the part of the brain where nerve cell damage associated with PD occurs, is called GST pi (“pie”). This enzyme stands like a sentry at the crossroads of several biochemical pathways, any one of which can lead to PD. GST pi protects the nerve cell from death caused by either environmental toxics, such as pesticides, or a self-destruction process called apoptosis (cell suicide), triggered by certain stressful conditions in the cell. If GST pi levels are reduced or this enzyme is overwhelmed by toxics, these nerves are at increased risk of death, according to studies in mouse models. GST pi is one of a family of similar enzymes that eliminate free radicals generated by pesticides and other chemicals. Two members of this family are present in the brain, […]