Longitudinal assessment of chlorpyrifos exposure and self-reported neurological symptoms in adolescent pesticide applicators

Khalid Khan, Ahmed A. Ismail, Gaafar Abdel Rasoul, Matthew R. Bonner, Michael R. Lasarev, Olfat Hendy, Manal Al-Batanony, Alice L. Crane, Steven T. Singleton, James R. Olson, Diane S. Rohlman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Objectives: Occupational exposure of organophosphorus pesticides, such as chlorpyrifos (CPF), in adolescents is of particular concern because of the potential vulnerability of the developing neurological system. The objectives of this study were to examine how neurological symptoms reported over the application season vary across time, whether these effects are reversible postapplication and if there are associations between CPF biomarkers and neurological symptoms in an adolescent study population. Setting: The longitudinal study was conducted in two agricultural districts of Menoufia Governorate, Egypt between April 2010 and January 2011. Participants: Male adolescent participants, including CPF applicators (n=57) and non-applicators (n=38), were recruited. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Self-reported data for 25 neurological symptoms were collected at 32 time points over the 8-month period before, during and after the application season. Additionally, urine and blood samples were collected to measure urine trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy), a CPF-specific biomarker and blood cholinesterase activity. Results: Applicators and non-applicators report the highest numbers of symptoms during the application season, followed by a reduction in symptoms after the application ended. Applicators reported a greater percentage of neurological symptoms, relative to baseline, than non-applicators after accounting for potential covariates. Among the applicators, cumulative TCPy was positively and significantly associated with the average percentage of symptoms (B=4.56, 95% CI 3.29 to 5.84; p<0.001). Significant associations (p=0.03-0.07) between the change in butyrylcholinesterase activity from the preapplication to the postapplication season and several domains of neurological symptoms were also found, even after adjusting for potential covariates. Conclusions: These observations demonstrate changes in the reporting of symptoms across the application season, showing an increase in symptom reporting during application and recovery following the end of pesticide application. These findings reinforce the growing concern regarding the neurotoxic health effects of CPF in adolescent applicators in developing countries and the need for developing and implementing intervention programmes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere004177
JournalBMJ open
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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