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Mortality of Mental Disorders in Relation to Potential Pesticide Exposure

van Wijngaarden, Edwin PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2003 - Volume 45 - Issue 5 - p 564-568
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000063615.59043.7e

Some studies have suggested a role of pesticide exposure in the development of neurobehavioral disorders. This case-control study examined the association between mortality from mental disorders and occupational exposure to pesticides. The study population consisted of 7756 deaths and 330,452 eligible controls identified from US death certificate files for the years 1988 through 1992. Exposure assignment was based on job title reported on the death certificates. Employment in jobs potentially involving pesticide exposure was weakly associated with the risk of death from mental disorders (odds ratio [OR] = 1.46; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 1.33–1.60). This association was stronger among women (OR = 2.65; 95% CI = 1.89–3.71), in particular for deaths from neurotic disorders (OR = 4.32; 95% CI = 2.44–7.64). These results must be interpreted with caution, however, because the impact of social and work-related factors other than pesticide exposure is not known.

From Applied Epidemiology, Inc., Amherst, Massachusetts.

Address correspondence to: Edwin van Wijngaarden, PhD, Applied Epidemiology, Inc., P. O. Box 2424, Amherst, MA 01004; e-mail:

©2003The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine