16 June 1995

OPs linked to suicides

A MAP, published by the governments Office of Population Census and Surveys, supports the view that suicide among farmers is linked to OP sheep dips, claims a psychiatrist.

The map, illustrating deaths in men aged 45 and over in the late 1980s and early 90s, shows peak figures in the hill farming areas of south-west England and Wales. Taunton-based psychiatrist Dr Robert Davis said the map confirms his opinion that organophosphorous chemicals disrupt seratonin; one of the chemicals associated with psychiatric disorders (News, June 9).

The high level of suicide among vets, another group exposed to OP chemicals, is further evidence, he added. Dr Davis wanted a moratorium on the use of OP dips until the connection is investigated. Acknowledging that this process may take a long time, he advised all farmers to avoid using OP products.

&#8226 The NFU is considering whether to call for a ban on organophosphorous sheep dips, said a spokesman on Wednesday.