Vineyard workers and farmers in southwest France who have been exposed to pesticides during their working life suffer from reduced levels of brain activity, new research has found.
The study was done by Anses, the French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety.
“The tests confirmed that there was a deterioration in cognitive ability in those exposed to pesticides,” said Dr Isabelle Baldi, a specialist in occupational health at the University of Bordeaux Segalen.
Viticulturists in Bordeaux exposed to pesticides and fungicides as well as agricultural workers were tested three times over 12 years. “Reactions naturally slowed with age but even more so for those exposed [to pesticides],” said Baldi.
The third in the series of tests are ongoing and will allow researchers to follow the decline of those exposed to pesticides and the eventual appearance of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
A link between Parkinson’s disease and the use of pesticides was officially recognized by the French government in May. This degenerative neurological disorder, which has affected film star Michael J Fox and boxer Muhammad Ali, has now been classified as a work-related illness for agricultural workers.