Research Papers

Exposure to the Pesticide Malathion Increases Risk of Kidney Dysfunction by 25%

Summary: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is characterised by permanent damage to the function of the kidneys. The known risk factors are hypertension and diabetes, However, there are a high number of cases with unknown etiology in tropical countries. This means that many of the affected patients are asymptomatic, or have mild symptoms and no known predisposing factors. The researchers of this paper aimed to assess whether pesticide exposure was associated with risk of CKD by analysis of 41,847 people and their intake of pesticides. The study found people exposed to higher amounts of the insecticide Malathion, known as Maldison in Australia, had a much higher risk (25% more) of kidney dysfunction. Malathion is currently used in agriculture, public recreation areas, for fruit fly eradication programs and also in some topical head lice treatments. Although much more research is needed in this area to establish causation, these findings suggest we should limit our exposure to pesticides until we understand more, as exposure may be detrimental to our kidney function and overall health.

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Chronic kidney disease of unknown cause is prevalent in a range of communities; however, its etiology remains unclear. We examined the association between pesticide exposures and the risk of kidney function loss using four waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to identify a pathological pathway. We pooled data from four cross-sectional waves of NHANES, with 41,847 participants in total. Exposure to malathion increased the risk of low kidney function (aOR = 1.26, 95% CI = 1.01–1.56) in the adjusted model. Increased risk of low kidney function was not found among those exposed to 2,4-D (aOR = 0.88, 95% CI = 0.72–1.09), 3,5,6-trichloropyridinol (aOR = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.83–1.12), and 3-PBA (aOR = 1.03, 95% CI = 0.94–1.13). Our findings provide evidence of altered kidney function in people exposed to malathion, highlighting the potential of organophosphate pesticides’ role in renal injury.

Article Publication Date: 18/10/2021
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph181910249

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