Study: Pesticide Linked to Chronic Kidney Disease

The research team analyzed links between pesticide exposure and the risk of kidney dysfunction in 41,847 people using data from the USA National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

A University of Queensland (UQ) study found that a commonly available pesticide has been linked to an increased risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a UQ press release.

The research team analyzed links between pesticide exposure and the risk of kidney dysfunction in 41,847 people using data from the USA National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The study found that people who were exposed to higher amounts of the insecticide Malathion had a 25% higher risk of kidney dysfunction, according to associate professor Nicholas Osbourne from the School of Public Health.

“Nearly 1 in 10 people in high income countries show signs of CKD, which is permanent kidney damage and loss of renal function,” Osbourne said in the press release.

The risk factors of developing CKD can include age, hypertension, and diabetes, and Osbourne added that CKD with no known cause was rising in low-to-middle income countries, such as Sri Lanka.

“Initially, it was suspected the condition was associated with agricultural workplaces through exposure to heat stress, dehydration, pesticide spraying, heavy metals and agrochemicals,” Osborne said in the press release. “However, environmental contamination, pesticide residues and herbal medicines potentially containing heavy metals may also be contributing to a CKD.”

Although the cause of increased CKD is still unknown, spraying pesticides without personal protective equipment and working with contaminated soil have been suggested as potential exposure pathways.

The UQ study was the first to provide evidence linking Malathion with the risk of poor kidney health in humans, according to Osbourne.

“The findings suggest we should limit our exposure to pesticides, even in very small doses, as chronic exposure may lead to negative health outcomes,” Osbourne said in the press release. “We will continue to investigate if other pesticides may be involved and are planning to collect data on Sri Lankan farmer behaviors to examine their level of exposure when using pesticides in the field.”

REFERENCE

Pesticide linked to chronic kidney disease. The University of Queensland. October 14, 2021. Accessed October 20, 2021. https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2021/10/pesticide-linked-chronic-kidney-disease