High-level pesticide exposure may harm farm workers’ sense of smell down the road
Farm workers exposed to an unusually high level of pesticides may be 50% more likely to lose, either partially or completely, their sense of smell later in life – an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease and dementia, results of a recent Michigan State University study show.
Researchers surveyed 11,323 farm workers over a 20-year period as part of the Agricultural Health Study. Participants were asked at the beginning of the study whether they had experienced a high pesticide exposure event such as a large amount of pesticides spilling onto them. In a follow-up two decades later, the workers were asked if they had noticed any decreased sense of smell.
Between 1993 and 1997, 1,588 (15.8%) of the workers reported that they had experienced a high pesticide exposure event. During the follow-up from 2013 to 2015, 1,186 (10.6%) confirmed an impairment in their sense of smell.