Increased Incidence of Cancers in Pest Control Workers

Multiple epidemiological, biological, and toxicological studies have shown that pest control workers have a higher rate of cancer, which correlates to positively to their extent of pesticide exposure.  While the EPA has worked hard to reduce the health risks associated with pesticide use and has removed many of the most dangerous chemicals from the market, risks remain. In response to public concerns, the EPA has advised making less use of chemicals that are lipophillic (stay in the body longer), longer-lasting, and or broad spectrum.

One reason the EPA can’t do more to reduce the risks associated with pesticide exposure is the need to balance benefits versus dangers. Frequently, therefore, the agency justifies approval of pesticides with known health risks because of their proven ability to eradicate difficult pest problems. The reassuring news is that consumers who use pesticides as directed are not in serious danger of developing pesticide related cancers.  However, pest chemical applicators and to a certain extent their family, have a much greater exposure to cancer causing chemicals and consequently greater chance of developing pesticide related cancers.

Cancers known to be caused by pesticide exposure include cancers of the bladder, brain, liver, lung, prostate, gastro- intestinal tract, respiratory system, testicles, malignant lymphomas, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and other forms of carcinogenic and mutagenic effects. The five most common cancers  associated with pesticide use are prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer.

A list of pesticides associated with the four most common pesticide related cancers are:

Prostate cancer – Fonos, Terbufos, Malathion, Permethrin, Aldrin, Chlordecone, Lindane, DDT, Dieldrin, Simazine, and Methyl Bromide (methyl halide).

Non Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) – Lindane, Dieldrin, Toxaphene, MCPA (phenoxy herbicide), β-Hexachlorobenzene, DDT, Chlordane (oxychlordane), Glyphosate, Atrazine (triazine), and Mirex

Adult Leukemia – Fonofos (OP), Diazinon (OP), Metribuzin (triazinone herbicide), Alachlor (aniline herbicide), EPTC (thiocarbamate), Chlordane/heptachlor (OC),

Multiple Myeloma (MM) – Permethrin (pyrethroid insecticide), Captan (phthalimide fungicide), Carbaryl (carbamate insecticide)

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