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Neuropsychological and psychiatric functioning in sheep farmers exposed to low levels of organophosphate pesticides

Mackenzie Ross, S.J.; (2011) Neuropsychological and psychiatric functioning in sheep farmers exposed to low levels of organophosphate pesticides. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to determine whether exposure to low levels of organophosphate pesticides (OPs) causes neuropsychological or psychiatric impairment. The thesis is arranged in three parts. Part 1 provides an introduction to neurotoxicology, the role of the psychologist, and the toxicity of OPs; Part 2 provides a historical review of the existing scientific evidence regarding the impact on human health of low level exposure to organophosphate pesticides. A major unresolved issue in the toxicity literature is whether repeated, low level exposure to OPs, in the absence of a history of acute toxicity, is harmful to human health. Part 3 presents the findings of a four year empirical study designed to address this issue. A cross-sectional study was undertaken in which the performance on neuropsychological tests of 127 sheep farmers with a history of low level exposure to organophosphate pesticides was compared with 78 nonexposed healthy volunteers (rural police workers) matched for age, gender, years in education and level of intelligence. Methodological weaknesses of earlier studies were addressed in the study design, such as inclusion of study participants who had retired on ill health grounds to take account of the ‘healthy worker effect’; exclusion of study participants with a history of acute poisoning and those with a psychiatric or medical history that might otherwise account for ill health; and exploration of factors that may render some individuals more vulnerable to the effects of OPs than others (e.g. genetic differences in the capacity to metabolise and detoxify OPs). In the final chapter the findings are summarised and discussed, the study design is critically appraised and the implications of the findings are listed along with recommendations for future research.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Neuropsychological and psychiatric functioning in sheep farmers exposed to low levels of organophosphate pesticides
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of) > Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology

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