We compared patterns of olfactory function over 2 years in pesticide-exposed male Latino farmworkers and male Latino workers in industries without pesticide exposure.
At five points over 2 years, workers completed tests of odor threshold (16 concentrations of n-butanol) using a well-established methodology. Tests at two or more time points were completed by 156 farmworkers and 118 non-farmworkers.
Farmworkers required significantly higher odorant concentrations at Contact 1 and across the 2-year follow-up to detect the odor. When adjusted for Contact 1, between-group differences persisted, but odor threshold performance did not worsen over time.
Pesticide exposure has been linked to neurodegenerative disease, as has declining olfactory function. Persistently poorer olfactory function among pesticide-exposed workers suggests the need to monitor neurological function in this vulnerable worker population.
Department Epidemiology and Prevention, Division of Public Health Sciences (Dr Quandt); Center for Worker Health (Dr Quandt, Dr Walker, Dr Chen, Dr Arcury); Department of Neurology (Dr Walker); Department of Biostatistical Sciences, Division of Public Health Sciences (Ms Talton, Dr Chen); Department of Family and Community Medicine (Dr Arcury), Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Address correspondence to: Sara A. Quandt, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157 (email@example.com).
This research was funded by grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: R01 ES008739.
Competing financial interests: None declared.
Authors Quandt, Walker, Talton, Chen, and Arcury have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.
The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.