Casabe et al., 2007

Norma Casabé, Lucas Piola, Julio Fuchs, María Luisa Oneto, Laura Pamparato, Silvana Basack, Rosana Giménez, Rubén Massaro, Juan C. Papa and Eva Kesten, “Ecotoxicological Assessment of the Effects of Glyphosate and Chlorpyrifos in an Argentine Soya Field,” Journal of Soils and Sediment, 2007, DOI: 10.1065/JSS2007.04.224.


BACKGROUND, AIM, AND SCOPE: Continuous application of pesticides may pollute soils and affect non-target organisms. Soil is a complex ecosystem; its components can modulate the effects of pesticides. Therefore, it is recommended to evaluate the potential environmental risk of these compounds in local conditions. We performed an integrated field-laboratory study on an Argentine soya field sprayed with glyphosate and chlorpyrifos under controlled conditions. Our aim was to compare the sensitivity of a series of endpoints for the assessment of adverse effects of the extensive use of these agrochemicals.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A RR soya field in a traditional farming area of Argentina was sprayed with glyphosate (GLY) or chlorpyrifos (CPF) formulations at the commercially recommended rates, according to a randomized complete block design with 3 replicates. In laboratory assays, Eisenia fetida andrei were exposed to soil samples (0–10 cm depth) collected between the rows of soya. Endpoints linked to behavior and biological activity (reproduction, avoidance behavior and bait-lamina tests) and cellular/subcellular assays (Neutral Red Retention Time –NRRT; DNA damage – Comet assay) were tested. Field assays included litterbag and bait-lamina tests. Physico/chemical analyses were performed on soil samples.

RESULTS: GLY reduced cocoon viability, decreasing the number of juveniles. Moreover, earthworms avoided soils treated with GLY. No effects on either reproduction or on avoidance were observed at the very low CPF concentration measured in the soils sampled 10 days after treatment. Both pesticides caused a reduction in the feeding activity under laboratory and field conditions. NRRT was responsive to formulations of CPF and GLY. Comet assay showed significantly increased DNA damage in earthworms exposed to CPF treated soils. No significant differences in DNA migration were observed with GLY treated soils. Litterbag field assay showed no differences between treated and control plots.     DISCUSSION: The ecotoxicological effects of pesticides can be assessed by monitoring the status of communities in real ecosystems or through the use of laboratory toxicity tests. Litterbag field test showed no influence of the treatments on the organic matter breakdown, suggesting a scarce contribution of soil macrofauna. The bait-lamina test, however, seemed to be useful for detecting the effects of GLY and CPF treatments on the activity of the soil fauna. CPF failed to give significant differences with the controls in the reproduction test and the results were not conclusive in the avoidance test. Although the field population density of earthworms could be affected by multiple factors, the effects observed on the reproduction and avoidance tests caused by GLY could contribute to its decrease, with the subsequent loss of their beneficial functions. Biomarkers measuring effects on suborganism level could be useful to predict adverse effects on soil organisms and populations. Among them, NRRT, a lysosomal destabilization biomarker, resulted in demonstrating more sensitivity than the reproduction and avoidance tests. The Comet assay was responsive only to CPF. Since DNA damage can have severe consequences on populations, it could be regarded as an important indicator to be used in the assessment of soil health.

CONCLUSIONS: Reproduction and avoidance tests were sensitive indicators of GLY exposure, with the former being more labor intensive. Bait-lamina test was sensitive to both CPF and GLY. NRRT and Comet assays revealed alterations at a subcellular level, and could be considered complementary to the biological activity tests. Because of their simplicity, some of these bioassays seemed to be appropriate pre-screening tests, prior to more extensive and invasive testing.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES: This study showed deleterious effects of GLY and CPF formulations when applied at the nominal concentrations recommended for soya crops. Further validation is needed before these endpoints could be used as field monitoring tools in Argentine soya soils (ecotoxicological risk assessment – ERA tools).  FULL TEXT

Curwin et al., 2007

Brian Curwin, Misty Hein, Wayne Sanderson, Cynthia Striley, Dick Heederik, Hans Kromhout, Stephen Reynolds, Michael Alavanja, “Urinary Pesticide Concentrations Among Children, Mothers and Fathers Living in Farm and Non-Farm Households in Iowa,” The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 51:1, January 2007, DOI: 10.1093/annhyg/mel062


In the spring and summer of 2001, 47 fathers, 48 mothers and 117 children of Iowa farm and non-farm households were recruited to participate in a study investigating take-home pesticide exposure. On two occasions ∼1 month apart, urine samples from each participant and dust samples from various rooms were collected from each household and were analyzed for atrazine, metolachlor, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos or their metabolites. The adjusted geometric mean (GM) level of the urine metabolite of atrazine was significantly higher in fathers, mothers and children from farm households compared with those from non-farm households (P ≤ 0.0001). Urine metabolites of chlorpyrifos were significantly higher in farm fathers (P = 0.02) and marginally higher in farm mothers (P = 0.05) when compared with non-farm fathers and mothers, but metolachlor and glyphosate levels were similar between the two groups. GM levels of the urinary metabolites for chlorpyrifos, metolachlor and glyphosate were not significantly different between farm children and non-farm children. Farm children had significantly higher urinary atrazine and chlorpyrifos levels (P = 0.03 and P = 0.03 respectively) when these pesticides were applied by their fathers prior to sample collection than those of farm children where these pesticides were not recently applied. Urinary metabolite concentration was positively associated with pesticide dust concentration in the homes for all pesticides except atrazine in farm mothers; however, the associations were generally not significant. There were generally good correlations for urinary metabolite levels among members of the same family. FULL TEXT

Eskenazi et al., 2004

Brenda Eskenazi, Kim Harley, Asa Bradman, Erin Weltzien, Nicholas P. Jewell, Dana B. Barr, Clement E. Furlong, and Nina T. Holland, “Association of in Utero Organophosphate Pesticide Exposure and Fetal Growth and Length of Gestation in an Agricultural Population,” Environmental Health Perspecitives, 112:10, 2004, DOI: 10.1289/ehp.6789


Although pesticide use is widespread, little is known about potential adverse health effects of in utero exposure. We investigated the effects of  organophosphate pesticide exposure during pregnancy on fetal growth and gestational duration in a cohort of low-income, Latina women living in an agricultural community in the Salinas Valley, California. We measured nonspecific metabolites of organophosphate pesticides (dimethyl and diethyl phosphates) and metabolites specific to malathion (malathion dicarboxylic acid), chlorpyrifos [O,O-diethyl O-(3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinyl) phosphoro-thioate], and parathion (4-nitrophenol) in maternal urine collected twice during pregnancy. We also measured levels of cholinesterase in whole blood and butyryl cholinesterase in plasma in maternal and umbilical cord blood. We failed to demonstrate an adverse relationship between fetal growth and any measure of in utero organophosphate pesticide exposure. In fact, we found increases in body length and head circumference associated with some exposure measures.
However, we did find decreases in gestational duration associated with two measures of in utero pesticide exposure: urinary dimethyl phosphate metabolites [βadjusted = –0.41 weeks per log10 unit increase; 95% confidence interval (CI), –0.75––0.02; p = 0.02], which reflect exposure to dimethyl organophosphate compounds such as malathion, and umbilical cord cholinesterase (βadjusted = 0.34 weeks per unit increase; 95% CI, 0.13–0.55; p = 0.001). Shortened gestational duration was most clearly related to increasing exposure levels in the latter part of pregnancy. These associations with gestational age may be biologically plausible given that organophosphate pesticides depress cholinesterase and acetylcholine stimulates contraction of the uterus. However, despite these observed associations, the rate of preterm delivery in this population (6.4%) was lower than in a U.S. reference population.   FULL TEXT

Landrigan, 2018

Philip J. Landrigan, “Pesticides and Human Reproduction,” JAMA Internal Medicine, 2018, 178:1, DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.5092


Invited commentary by Managing Weeds for Healthy Kids science team member Dr. Landrigan reports that herbicide use has increased sharply, with glyphosate use up 250-fold from 1974 to 2014.  And, “measurable levels of multiple pesticides are found in the bodies of nearly all Americans…and pesticides are capable of causing a wide range of asymptomatic effects at levels of exposure too low to produce overt signs and symptoms.”  New theories suggest that long term exposure to pesticides cause this kind of subclinical toxicity.  Dr. Landrigan reviews the known linkages, including in utero chlorpyrifos exposure leading to neurodevelopmental deficits, and reproductive injury including adverse birth outcomes and birth defects. He recommends: “We need to overcome the strident objections of the pesticide manufacturing industry, recognize the hidden costs of deregulation, and strengthen requirements for both premarket testing of new pesticides, as well as postmarketing surveillance of exposed populations— exactly as we do for another class of potent, biologically active molecules—drugs.”  FULL TEXT

Ryberg and Gilliom, 2015

Karen R. Ryberg and Robert J. Gilliom, “Trends in pesticide concentrations and use for major rivers of the United States,”  Science of the Total Environment, 2015, 538: 431-444, DOI: /10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.06.095.


Trends in pesticide concentrations in 38 major rivers of the United States were evaluated in relation to use trends for 11 commonly occurring pesticide compounds. Pesticides monitored in water were analyzed for trends in concentration in three overlapping periods, 1992–2001, 1997–2006, and 2001–2010 to facilitate comparisons among sites with variable sample distributions over time and among pesticides with changes in use during different periods and durations. Concentration trends were analyzed using the SEAWAVE-Q model, which incorporates intra-annual variability in concentration and measures of long-term, mid-term, and short-term
streamflow variability. Trends in agricultural use within each of the river basins were determined using interval-censored regression with high and low estimates of use.
Pesticides strongly dominated by agricultural use (cyanazine, alachlor, atrazine and its degradate deethylatrazine, metolachlor, and carbofuran) had widespread agreement between concentration trends and use trends. Pesticides with substantial use in both agricultural and nonagricultural applications (simazine, chlorpyrifos, malathion, diazinon, and carbaryl) had concentration trends that were mostly explained by a combination of agricultural-use trends, regulatory changes, and urban use changes inferred from concentration trends in urban streams. When there were differences, concentration trends usually were greater than use trends (increased more or decreased less). These differences may occur because of such factors as unaccounted pesticide uses, delayed transport to the river through groundwater, greater uncertainty in the use data, or unquantified land use and management practice changes.  FULL TEXT

Weichenthal et al., 2010

Scott Weichenthal, Connie Moase, and Peter Chan, “A Review of Pesticide Exposure and Cancer Incidence in the Agricultural Health Study Cohort,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 118, DOI: 10.1289/ehp.0901731


OBJECTIVE: We reviewed epidemiologic evidence related to occupational pesticide exposures and cancer incidence in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) cohort.

DATA SOURCES: Studies were identified from the AHS publication list available at as well as through a Medline/PubMed database search in March 2009. We also examined citation lists. Findings related to lifetime-days and/or intensity-weighted lifetime-days of pesticide use are the primary focus of this review, because these measures allow for the evaluation of potential exposure–response relationships.

DATA SYNTHESIS: We reviewed 28 studies; most of the 32 pesticides examined were not strongly associated with cancer incidence in pesticide applicators. Increased rate ratios (or odds ratios) and positive exposure–response patterns were reported for 12 pesticides currently registered in Canada and/or the United States (alachlor, aldicarb, carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, dicamba, S-ethyl-N,N-dipropylthiocarbamate, imazethapyr, metolachlor, pendimethalin, permethrin, trifluralin). However, estimates of association for specific cancers were often imprecise because of small numbers of exposed cases, and clear monotonic exposure–response patterns were not always apparent. Exposure misclassification is also a concern in the AHS and may limit the analysis of exposure–response patterns. Epidemiologic evidence outside the AHS remains limited with respect to most of the observed associations, but animal toxicity data support the biological plausibility of relationships observed for alachlor, carbaryl, metolachlor, pendimethalin, permethrin, and trifluralin.

CONCLUSIONS: Continued follow-up is needed to clarify associations reported to date. In particular, further evaluation of registered pesticides is warranted.