Are pesticides a health hazard for farmers?

The Challenge 

Despite a lower overall mortality rate than the general population, farmers experience an excess of certain cancers, such as leukemia, myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and cancers of the lip, stomach, skin, brain, and prostate. Other conditions, like asthma, neurological diseases, and adverse reproductive outcomes may also be related to agricultural exposures.

The Agricultural Health Study (AHS) launched in 1993 and sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is evaluating a connection between these health outcomes and potentially hazardous substances prevalent in farming communities.

Our Solutions 

  • Since 2002, Westat has followed nearly 90,000 registered pesticide applicators in Iowa and North Carolina and their spouses to determine how environmental exposures from pesticide application may put them at increased risk for cancer. The study will also investigate the role of lifestyle, diet, and genetic factors as contributors to cancer risk.
  • Serving as the coordinating center, we are developing the annual study update, maintaining the master database of study participants, maintaining a database of participation in substudies, tracing participants, collecting biospecimen and dust for biomarker studies, obtaining GPS measurements, identifying and verifying disease outcomes, and building analytic data sets.

The Results 

  • This research will identify factors that affect risk of various types of cancers and other adverse health conditions in farming populations.

Our Client 

National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)