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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UIC: Researcher Finds Pesticide Exposure Raises Risk for Cardiovascular Disease Among Latino Workers

Latinos who are exposed to pesticides in their workplaces are twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease compared with Latinos who are not exposed to pesticides at work, according to a new study published in the journal Heart.

The study looked at survey questionnaire responses from 7,404 employed Latinos ages 18 to 74 years old enrolled in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) regarding occupational exposure to pesticides, metals and solvents — substances known to have a negative impact on cardiovascular health. The HCHS/SOL is the largest epidemiological study of Hispanics/Latinos and includes more than 16,000 participants from Chicago, San Diego, Miami and the Bronx in New York. Participants were asked whether they had been exposed to metals, solvents or pesticides at work.

Workers at a metal recycling plant.

“Recent studies have linked certain chemicals found in solvents and pesticides and metal dust to cardiovascular disease, but none of those studies looked specifically at Hispanics/Latinos — a group that is especially vulnerable to exposure to toxins at work,” said Dr. Maria Argos, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and corresponding author of the paper.

About 5 to 9 percent of employed Latinos reported exposure to solvents, metals or pesticides in the workplace.

“While our study didn’t involve objective measures of exposure to toxic chemicals or metals in blood or urine samples, we observed significantly increased cardiovascular disease, most strongly for atrial fibrillation, among those who self-reported occupational exposure to pesticides,” Dr. Argos said.

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