13 October 2000

Insecticide risks

FARMERS who apply insecticides to livestock are nearly four times more likely to have symptoms of lung disease than farmers who dont, according to a new study. The finding is the first time that pour-on or spot-spray livestock pesticides – as used by many British farmers – have been linked to lung disease symptoms.

The results of the study were published in the October issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Researchers at Iowa University were led by Nancy Sprince, professor of occupational and environmental health. She said: "Ours is the first study to show that this specific type of insecticide application to livestock causes any health effects."

The results were based on responses from 385 Iowa farmers enrolled in the Iowa Farm Family Health and Hazard Surveillance Project, a population-based study that assessed diseases and injuries in relation to farm exposures. Researchers found that the likelihood of asthma-like symptoms for farmers who personally apply insecticides to their livestock nearly quadrupled.