Pesticide linked to chronic kidney disease, study finds

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In a new study from the University of Queensland, researchers found a commonly available pesticide has been associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

They analyzed links between pesticide exposure and the risk of kidney dysfunction in 41,847 people, using data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

They found people exposed to higher amounts of the insecticide Malathion, known as Maldison in Australia, had 25% higher risk of kidney dysfunction.

Risk factors of developing CKD include age, high blood pressure and diabetes. CKD with no known cause was rising in low-to-middle income countries such as India, Sri Lanka and Mesoamerica.

Initially, it was suspected the condition was associated with agricultural workplaces through exposure to heat stress, dehydration, pesticide spraying, heavy metals and agrochemicals

However, environmental contamination, pesticide residues and herbal medicines potentially containing heavy metals may also be contributing to CKD.

The cause of increased CKD remains unknown but spraying pesticides without personal protective equipment (PPE) and working with contaminated soil have been suggested as likely exposure pathways.

This study was the first to provide evidence linking Malathion with risk of poor kidney health in humans.

The findings suggest people should limit their exposure to pesticides, even in very small doses, as chronic exposure may lead to negative health outcomes.

Malathion is licensed for use in agriculture, domestic and public recreation areas as part of mosquito and fruit fly eradication programs, and can also be found in some topical head lice treatments.

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The study is published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. One author of the study is Nicholas Osborne.

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