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Western U.S. study links ag chemicals to cancer

Researchers from University of Idaho, NAU examined data from 11-state region.

Farm Press Staff

June 24, 2022

2 Min Read
Worledit / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Researchers at two Western universities have found a correlation between agricultural chemicals and cancer in adults and children within an 11-state region.

lan Kolok and Naveen Joseph of the University of Idaho's Water Resources Research Institute joined with colleagues from Northern Arizona University in analyzing federal and state health and agriculture data.

They report a relationship between cancer incidence and pesticide applications in 459 counties in the Western United States from Montana south to New Mexico and west to the coast, according to UI officials.

Their findings are detailed in a pair of reports -“Assessment of Pediatric Cancer and its Relationship to Environmental Contaminants: An Ecological Study in Idaho,” published in March in the peer-reviewed GeoHealth, and “Investigation of Relationships Between the Geospatial Distribution of Cancer Incidence and Estimated Pesticide Use in the U.S. West,” also in GeoHealth.

The most predominant fumigant, metam, was also found to be associated with cancer among adults in Idaho and in the other states. Metam-sodium is an agricultural pesticide used primarily to control weeds, weed seeds, fungi, nematodes and soil insects.

Related: Supreme Court rejects Bayer's bid to end Roundup suits

A 'significant relationship'

“We saw a significant relationship,” Kolok said. “It tells us something that we need to explore further.”

Kolok and Joseph found the incidence of cancer was more closely associated with fumigants used in Western states that produce food such as vegetables and fruit, as opposed to states that used mostly herbicides in the production of grains such as corn and wheat.

“We have not seen it expressed in a fumigant like this before, and it’s absolutely striking,” Joseph said.

Researchers compared data on the top 125 pesticides and herbicides from the U.S. Geological Survey Pesticide National Synthesis Project database with data on cancer incidence among adults and children from the National Cancer Institute’s State Cancer Profiles and the Cancer Data Registry of Idaho.

Source: University of Idaho, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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