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Your Environment. Your Health.

Progress Reports: University of California-Davis: Epidemiology Studies

Superfund Research Program

Epidemiology Studies

Project Leader: Ellen B. Gold
Grant Number: P42ES004699
Funding Period: 2000-2010

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Progress Reports

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Organophosphates are used in pesticides and are potential toxicants to the nervous system, although these effects have not been studied in children. Preliminary analyses have also already been conducted on the neurotoxic effects of such exposures. Initial results show no effect, although a number of study design limitations may explain this. Additional assays and data analyses are planned to address some of the limitations and to examine further any relation of OP exposure to neurotoxic effects.

Exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors and other potentially hazardous environmental exposures may be related to adverse reproductive and other health effects in residents living in communities adjacent to Superfund sites. Project investigators conducted two focus groups with eight women each to evaluate the health concerns of women in communities adjacent to the Superfund site, as well as to assess incentives and barriers to participation in an epidemiologic study in these communities. Results have indicated that the foremost health concerns include cancer and nutrition (particularly diet and weight). Some concern was also expressed regarding air and water pollution, but no specific mention was made of the Superfund site. Additionally, about half of the participants indicated some willingness to participate in studies, and virtually all of them indicated that having UC Davis conduct the study was a strength.

The major significance of our project on OPs is that we have already collected occupational and residential and other risk factor data, neurologic and neurobehavioral testing data on children, and urine samples from mothers and children in a community-based sample of farmworkers and non-farmworkers living in an agricultural area. These data and stored samples provide the opportunity in collaboration with the immunochemical project (Project 3) to examine in a cost-effective way the prevalence of exposure to pesticides and the relation of such exposure in mothers and children to neurologic and neurobehavioral outcomes in the children.

The major significance of the community study near a Superfund site is that: 1) the multi-disciplinary collaboration will facilitate the implementation of laboratory-based techniques in human populations with likely exposure to environmental toxicants and the use of the laboratory methods to assess exposure and health outcomes, thus permitting a very practical application of basic science technology in an important Superfund setting, and 2) the study participants are a large, community-based sample which will provide information on reproductive and health effects of exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors.

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