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News1995July › Sheep pesticides: nerve disorders › July 1995

Sheep pesticides: nerve disorders

Common pesticides used throughout the world can cause nervous system disorders, scientists have proved

Common pesticides used throughout the world can cause nervous system disorders, scientists have proved.

Exposure to organophosphate-based pesticides can lead to a loss of mental skills, such as problem-solving and attention-span. It may also be linked to psychiatric disorders, and even to suicidal tendencies.

Fears that the pesticides could cause this damage were confirmed when scientists tracked the mental performances of sheep farmers. They are exposed to the pesticides just three times a year when they put sheep in the sheep dip, which contains the pesticides.

Scientists at the University of Birmingham, England tested 146 sheep farmers and compared their mental aptitude against 143 quarry workers who had not been exposed to the pesticides.

The study team also noted that sheep farmers seem to suffer from more psychiatric disorders, including suicide, than the quarry workers, although this may be due to social and economic factors (The Lancet, May 6, 1995).


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