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The Tempest Study - Epidemiology of the association between pesticides and Parkinsons disease - PS2610

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a rare brain disease that develops late in life and affects 1 in 1000 of the general population. PD develops once enough nerve cells in the area of the brain that controls movement (the basal ganglia) have died. The loss of these cells in the basal ganglia affects movement and leads to the sufferer experiencing tremor, rigidity and falls. In most cases the cause of the illness is unknown. Medical researchers have found it hard to identify which factors trigger the death of these cells and, indeed, at what time of life these triggers may act. Many studies have shown a modest increased risk of PD with pesticide use but no individual pesticide has been implicated consistently. It is important both for pesticide users and regulatory authorities to be able to identify those pesticides that increase the risk of PD. Better pesticide exposure estimates offer a method to identify those pesticides that may increase the risk of PD.

We aim to create a database of the pesticides available in Scotland since 1945 by pesticide group (e.g. organophosphates, carbamates, etc as herbicides, insecticides etc) and to identify the potential uses of each pesticide group. Note we will consider both professional and amateur uses, and include veterinary medicines and biocides that contain the relevant active ingredients. A panel of occupational hygienists who specialise in assessing workers' chemical exposures will then be asked to assess the likely probability and intensity of exposures for each pesticide group for a given use. This work will produce a table listing pesticides groups against the likely exposure to the pesticide when used in that particular task (e.g. spraying arable crops). Such a table is termed a task-exposure matrix. Having produced this matrix we will then apply it to data gathered in Scotland by our group as part of a European Commission funded study of the genetic, environmental and occupational risk factors for Parkinson's Disease (the Geoparkinson study). This study is the largest case control study yet carried out into occupational risk factors for PD and found an exposure-related increased risk of PD among pesticide users. We will apply the more detailed task-exposure matrix produced for this study to those Scottish Geoparkinson subjects reporting any pesticide use (108 PD sufferers and 184 people without the illness). If successful this project will establish a method that can then be applied in a subsequent more powerful study to identify which pesticide groups are risk factors for PD.

The outputs of the study will be:
a) a task exposure matrix available for subsequent research into pesticide health effects;
b) a re-analysis of the data from the Geoparkinson Scotland pesticide exposed subjects to establish proof of concept;
c) a report of the work.
1) To produce a probabilistic pesticide task exposure matrix for Scotland for the period 1945-2005 for use in subsequent research into pesticide health effects and to develop a questionnaire suitable for use in any future pesticide epidemiological studies in the UK. 8 months
2) Apply the pesticide task exposure matrix to work histories obtained in an existing case-control study of pesticide exposure and Parkinson's disease: re-analysis of the Geoparkinson study. 2 months
3) To prepare a report detailing the results of a) and b). 2 months

Project Documents
• Final Report : The TEMPEST Study - Epidemiology of the association between pesticides and Parkinson's Disease'   (419k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2007

Cost: £121,409
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Aberdeen
Hazardous substances              
Health Effects              
Public Health              
Toxic Substances              
Fields of Study
Pesticide Safety