Passive exposure to agricultural pesticides and risk of childhood leukemia in an Italian community

Carlotta Malagoli, Sofia Costanzini, Julia E. Heck, Marcella Malavolti, Gianfranco De Girolamo, Paola Oleari, Giovanni Palazzi, Sergio Teggi, Marco Vinceti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background Exposure to pesticides has been suggested as a risk factor for childhood leukemia, but definitive evidence on this relation and the specific pesticides involved is still not clear. Objective We carried out a population-based case-control study in a Northern Italy community to assess the possible relation between passive exposure to agricultural pesticides and risk of acute childhood leukemia. Methods We assessed passive pesticide exposure of 111 childhood leukemia cases and 444 matched controls by determining density and type of agricultural land use within a 100-m radius buffer around children's homes. We focused on four common crop types, arable, orchard, vineyard and vegetable, characterized by the use of specific pesticides that are potentially involved in childhood induced leukemia. The use of these pesticides was validated within the present study. We computed the odds ratios (OR) of the disease and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) according to type and density of crops around the children's homes, also taking into account traffic pollution and high-voltage power line magnetic field exposure. Results Childhood leukemia risk did not increase in relation with any of the crop types with the exception of arable crops, characterized by the use of 2.4-D, MCPA, glyphosate, dicamba, triazine and cypermethrin. The very few children (n = 11) residing close to arable crops had an OR for childhood leukemia of 2.04 (95% CI 0.50–8.35), and such excess risk was further enhanced among children aged <5 years. Conclusions Despite the null association with most crop types and the statistical imprecision of the estimates, the increased leukemia risk among children residing close to arable crops indicates the need to further investigate the involvement in disease etiology of passive exposure to herbicides and pyrethroids, though such exposure is unlikely to play a role in the vast majority of cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)742-748
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Volume219
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Childhood leukemia
  • Crop density
  • Pesticides
  • Rural area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Passive exposure to agricultural pesticides and risk of childhood leukemia in an Italian community'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Malagoli, C., Costanzini, S., Heck, J. E., Malavolti, M., De Girolamo, G., Oleari, P., Palazzi, G., Teggi, S., & Vinceti, M. (2016). Passive exposure to agricultural pesticides and risk of childhood leukemia in an Italian community. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 219(8), 742-748. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2016.09.015