Daily News Archive

Study Shows Pesticides Can Cause Depression
(from September 10, 2002)

Farmers exposed to pesticides have nearly a six-fold increased risk of suffering from depressive symptoms, according to a new study published in the Annals of Epidemiology (vol. 12, no. 6, pages 389-394). "Pesticide Poisoning and Depressive Symptoms Among Farm Residents" looks at exposure to individuals exposed to agriculture use of organophosphate pesticides.

Between 1992 and 1997, 761 farmers and their spouses were part of the study conducted throughout eight counties in northeastern Colorado. The study authors, Lorann Stallones and Cheryl Beseler of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, wrote that they looked at the association between pesticides and depression because higher rates of depression have been reported among farmers in some states.

Organophosphate pesticides, the most toxic family of pesticides, affects the nervous system through the inhibition of AchE, an enzyme needed for proper nervous system function. Many are easily absorbed through the skin, and are synergistic with other chemicals (meaning that the two together are more toxic than either alone), including pyrethrins and certain chemicals used in pharmaceuticals. Exposure to organophosphates have been shown to cause headache, dizziness, profuse sweating, blurred vision, nervousness, nausea, vomiting, reduced heart beat, stomach cramps, diarrhea, loss of coordination, slow and weak breathing, fever, loss of consciousness, coma, uncontrollable twitching, loss of reflexes, loss of sphincter control and chemical sensitization.