Carmichael et al., 2016

Carmichael SL, Yang W, Roberts E, Kegley SE, Brown TJ, English PB, Lammer EJ, Shaw GM, “Residential agricultural pesticide exposures and risks of selected birth defects among offspring in the San Joaquin Valley of California,” Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 2016, 106:1, doi: 10.1002/bdra.23459.


BACKGROUND: We examined associations of birth defects with residential proximity to commercial agricultural pesticide applications in California. Subjects included 367 cases representing five types of birth defects and 785 nonmalformed controls born 1997 to 2006.

METHODS:Associations with any versus no exposure to physicochemical groups of pesticides and specific chemicals were assessed using logistic regression adjusted for covariates. Overall, 46% of cases and 38% of controls were classified as exposed to pesticides within a 500 m radius of mother’s address during a 3-month periconceptional window.

RESULTS:We estimated odds ratios (ORs) for 85 groups and 95 chemicals with five or more exposed cases and control mothers. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals (CI) excluded 1.0 for 11 ORs for groups and 22 ORs for chemicals, ranging from 1.9 to 3.1 for groups and 1.8 to 4.9 for chemicals except for two that were <1 (noted below).

CONCLUSION:For groups, these ORs were for anotia/microtia (n = 95 cases) and dichlorophenoxy acids/esters and neonicotinoids; anorectal atresia/stenosis (n = 77) and alcohol/ethers and organophosphates (these ORs were < 1.0); transverse limb deficiencies (n = 59) and dichlorophenoxy acids/esters, petroleum derivatives, and triazines; and craniosynostosis (n = 79) and alcohol/ethers, avermectins, neonicotinoids, and organophosphates. For chemicals, ORs were: anotia/microtia and five pesticides from the groups dichlorophenoxy acids/esters, copper-containing compounds, neonicotinoids, organophosphates, and triazines; transverse limb deficiency and six pesticides – oxyfluorfen and pesticides from the groups copper-containing compounds, 2,6-dinitroanilines, neonicotinoids, petroleum derivatives and polyalkyloxy compounds; craniosynostosis and 10 pesticides – oxyfluorfen and pesticides from the groups alcohol/ethers, avermectins, n-methyl-carbamates, neonicotinoids, ogranophosphates (two chemicals), polyalkyloxy compounds (two chemicals), and pyrethroids; and congenital diaphragmatic hernia (n = 62) and a copper-containing compound.

Cimino et al., 2017

Andria M. Cimino, Abee L. Boyles, Kristina A. Thayer, and Melissa J. Perry, “Effects of Neonicotinoid Pesticide Exposure on Human Health: A Systematic Review,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2017, 125:2, DOI: 10.1289/EHP515.


BACKGROUND: Numerous studies have identified detectable levels of neonicotinoids (neonics) in the environment, adverse effects of neonics in many species, including mammals, and pathways through which human exposure to neonics could occur, yet little is known about the human health effects of neonic exposure.

OBJECTIVE: In this systematic review, we sought to identify human population studies on the health effects of neonics.

METHODS: Studies published in English between 2005 and 2015 were searched using PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases. No restrictions were placed on the type of health outcome assessed. Risk of bias was assessed using guidance developed by the National Toxicology Program’s Office of Health Assessment and Translation.

RESULTS: Eight studies investigating the human health effects of exposure to neonics were identified. Four examined acute exposure: Three neonic poisoning studies reported two fatalities (n = 1,280 cases) and an occupational exposure study of 19 forestry workers reported no adverse effects. Four general population studies reported associations between chronic neonic exposure and adverse developmental or neurological outcomes, including tetralogy of Fallot (AOR 2.4, 95% CI: 1.1, 5.4), anencephaly (AOR 2.9, 95% CI: 1.0, 8.2), autism spectrum disorder [AOR 1.3, 95% credible interval (CrI): 0.78, 2.2], and a symptom cluster including memory loss and finger tremor (OR 14, 95% CI: 3.5, 57). Reported odds ratios were based on exposed compared to unexposed groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The studies conducted to date were limited in number with suggestive but methodologically weak findings related to chronic exposure. Given the wide-scale use of neonics, more studies are needed to fully understand their effects on human health.  FULL TEXT

Simon-Delso et al., 2015

N. Simon-Delso,corresponding author V. Amaral-Rogers, L. P. Belzunces, J. M. Bonmatin, M. Chagnon, C. Downs, L. Furlan, D. W. Gibbons, C. Giorio, V. Girolami, D. Goulson, D. P. Kreutzweiser, C. H. Krupke, M. Liess, E. Long, M. McField, P. Mineau, E. A. D. Mitchell, C. A. Morrissey, D. A. Noome, L. Pisa, J. Settele, J. D. Stark, A. Tapparo, H. Van Dyck, J. Van Praagh, J. P. Van der Sluijs, P. R. Whitehorn, and M. Wiemers, “Systemic insecticides (neonicotinoids and fipronil): trends, uses, mode of action and metabolites,” Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, 2015; 22, DOI: 10.1007/s11356-014-3470-y


Since their discovery in the late 1980s, neonicotinoid pesticides have become the most widely used class of insecticides worldwide, with large-scale applications ranging from plant protection (crops, vegetables, fruits), veterinary products, and biocides to invertebrate pest control in fish farming. In this review, we address the phenyl-pyrazole fipronil together with neonicotinoids because of similarities in their toxicity, physicochemical profiles, and presence in the environment. Neonicotinoids and fipronil currently account for approximately one third of the world insecticide market; the annual world production of the archetype neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, was estimated to be ca. 20,000 tonnes active substance in 2010. There were several reasons for the initial success of neonicotinoids and fipronil: (1) there was no known pesticide resistance in target pests, mainly because of their recent development, (2) their physicochemical properties included many advantages over previous generations of insecticides (i.e., organophosphates, carbamates, pyrethroids, etc.), and (3) they shared an assumed reduced operator and consumer risk. Due to their systemic nature, they are taken up by the roots or leaves and translocated to all parts of the plant, which, in turn, makes them effectively toxic to herbivorous insects. The toxicity persists for a variable period of time—depending on the plant, its growth stage, and the amount of pesticide applied. A wide variety of applications are available, including the most common prophylactic non-Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) application by seed coating. As a result of their extensive use and physicochemical properties, these substances can be found in all environmental compartments including soil, water, and air. Neonicotinoids and fipronil operate by disrupting neural transmission in the central nervous system of invertebrates. Neonicotinoids mimic the action of neurotransmitters, while fipronil inhibits neuronal receptors. In doing so, they continuously stimulate neurons leading ultimately to death of target invertebrates. Like virtually all insecticides, they can also have lethal and sublethal impacts on non-target organisms, including insect predators and vertebrates. Furthermore, a range of synergistic effects with other stressors have been documented. Here, we review extensively their metabolic pathways, showing how they form both compound-specific and common metabolites which can themselves be toxic. These may result in prolonged toxicity. Considering their wide commercial expansion, mode of action, the systemic properties in plants, persistence and environmental fate, coupled with limited information about the toxicity profiles of these compounds and their metabolites, neonicotinoids and fipronil may entail significant risks to the environment. A global evaluation of the potential collateral effects of their use is therefore timely. The present paper and subsequent chapters in this review of the global literature explore these risks and show a growing body of evidence that persistent, low concentrations of these insecticides pose serious risks of undesirable environmental impacts. FULL TEXT