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Conrad et al., 2017

Conrad A, Schröter-Kermani C, Hoppe HW, Rüther M, Pieper S, Kolossa-Gehring M, “Glyphosate in German adults – Time trend (2001 to 2015) of human exposure to a widely used herbicide,” International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 2017, 220:1, doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2016.09.016.


The broadband herbicide glyphosate (N-[phosphonomethyl]-glycine) and its main metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) were analyzed by GC-MS-MS in 24h-urine samples cryo-archived by the German Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB). Samples collected in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 were chosen for this retrospective analysis. All urine samples had been provided by 20 to 29 years old individuals living in Greifswald, a city in north-eastern Germany. Out of the 399 analyzed urine samples, 127 (=31.8%) contained glyphosate concentrations at or above the limit of quantification (LOQ) of 0.1μg/L. For AMPA this was the case for 160 (=40.1%) samples. The fraction of glyphosate levels at or above LOQ peaked in 2012 (57.5%) and 2013 (56.4%) after having discontinuously increased from 10.0% in 2001. Quantification rates were lower again in 2014 and 2015 with 32.5% and 40.0%, respectively. The overall trend for quantifiable AMPA levels was similar. Glyphosate and AMPA concentrations in urine were statistically significantly correlated (spearman rank correlation coefficient=0.506, p≤0.001). Urinary glyphosate and AMPA levels tended to be higher in males. The possible reduction in exposure since 2013 indicated by ESB data may be due to changes in glyphosate application in agricultural practice. The ESB will continue monitoring internal exposures to glyphosate and AMPA for following up the time trend, elucidating inter-individual differences, and contributing to the ongoing debate on the further regulation of glyphosate-based pesticides. FULL TEXT

Cohn et al., 2007

Cohn BA, Wolff MS, Cirillo PM, Sholtz RI, “DDT and breast cancer in young women: new data on the significance of age at exposure,” Environmental  Health Perspectives, 2007, 115:10.


BACKGROUND: Previous studies of DDT and breast cancer assessed exposure later in life when the breast may not have been vulnerable, after most DDT had been eliminated, and after DDT had been banned.

OBJECTIVES: We investigated whether DDT exposure in young women during the period of peak DDT use predicts breast cancer.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective, nested case-control study with a median time to diagnosis of 17 years using blood samples obtained from young women during 1959-1967. Subjects were members of the Child Health and Development Studies, Oakland, California, who provided blood samples 1-3 days after giving birth (mean age, 26 years). Cases (n = 129) developed breast cancer before the age of 50 years. Controls (n = 129) were matched to cases on birth year. Serum was assayed for p,p’-DDT, the active ingredient of DDT; o,p’-DDT, a low concentration contaminant; and p,p’-DDE, the most abundant p,p’-DDT metabolite.

RESULTS: High levels of serum p,p’-DDT predicted a statistically significant 5-fold increased risk of breast cancer among women who were born after 1931. These women were under 14 years of age in 1945, when DDT came into widespread use, and mostly under 20 years as DDT use peaked. Women who were not exposed to p,p’-DDT before 14 years of age showed no association between p,p’-DDT and breast cancer (p = 0.02 for difference by age).

CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to p,p’-DDT early in life may increase breast cancer risk. Many U.S. women heavily exposed to DDT in childhood have not yet reached 50 years of age. The public health significance of DDT exposure in early life may be large.  FULL TEXT

Cohn et al., 2015

Cohn BA, La Merrill M, Krigbaum NY, Yeh G, Park JS, Zimmermann L, Cirillo PM, “DDT Exposure in Utero and Breast Cancer,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2015, 100:8, doi: 10.1210/jc.2015-1841.


CONTEXT: Currently no direct evidence links in utero dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) exposure to human breast cancer. However, in utero exposure to another xenoestrogen, diethylstilbestrol, predicts an increased breast cancer risk. If this finding extends to DDT, it could have far-reaching consequences. Many women were heavily exposed in utero during widespread DDT use in the 1960s. They are now reaching the age of heightened breast cancer risk. DDT exposure persists and use continues in Africa and Asia without clear knowledge of the consequences for the next generation.

HYPOTHESIS: In utero exposure to DDT is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

DESIGN: This was a case-control study nested in a prospective 54-year follow-up of 9300 daughters in the Child Health and Development Studies pregnancy cohort (n = 118 breast cancer cases, diagnosed by age 52 y and 354 controls matched on birth year).

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan members who received obstetric care in Alameda County, California, from 1959 to 1967, and their adult daughters participated in the study.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Daughters’ breast cancer diagnosed by age 52 years as of 2012 was measured.

RESULTS: Maternal o,p’-DDT predicted daughters’ breast cancer (odds ratio fourth quartile vs first = 3.7, 95% confidence interval 1.5-9.0). Mothers’ lipids, weight, race, age, and breast cancer history did not explain the findings.

CONCLUSIONS: This prospective human study links measured DDT exposure in utero to risk of breast cancer. Experimental studies are essential to confirm results and discover causal mechanisms. Findings support classification of DDT as an endocrine disruptor, a predictor of breast cancer, and a marker of high risk.  FULL TEXT

Castillo-Fernandez et al., 2014

Castillo-Fernandez JE, Spector TD, Bell JT, “Epigenetics of discordant monozygotic twins: implications for disease,” Genome Medicine, 2014, 6:7, doi: 10.1186/s13073-014-0060-z.


Monozygotic (MZ) twins share nearly all of their genetic variants and many similar environments before and after birth. However, they can also show phenotypic discordance for a wide range of traits. Differences at the epigenetic level may account for such discordances. It is well established that epigenetic states can contribute to phenotypic variation, including disease. Epigenetic states are dynamic and potentially reversible marks involved in gene regulation, which can be influenced by genetics, environment, and stochastic events. Here, we review advances in epigenetic studies of discordant MZ twins, focusing on disease. The study of epigenetics and disease using discordant MZ twins offers the opportunity to control for many potential confounders encountered in general population studies, such as differences in genetic background, early-life environmental exposure, age, gender, and cohort effects. Recently, analysis of disease-discordant MZ twins has been successfully used to study epigenetic mechanisms in aging, cancer, autoimmune disease, psychiatric, neurological, and multiple other traits. Epigenetic aberrations have been found in a range of phenotypes, and challenges have been identified, including sampling time, tissue specificity, validation, and replication. The results have relevance for personalized medicine approaches, including the identification of prognostic, diagnostic, and therapeutic targets. The findings also help to identify epigenetic markers of environmental risk and molecular mechanisms involved in disease and disease progression, which have implications both for understanding disease and for future medical research.  FULL TEXT

Carmichael et al., 2016

Carmichael SL, Yang W, Roberts E, Kegley SE, Brown TJ, English PB, Lammer EJ, Shaw GM, “Residential agricultural pesticide exposures and risks of selected birth defects among offspring in the San Joaquin Valley of California,” Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 2016, 106:1, doi: 10.1002/bdra.23459.


BACKGROUND: We examined associations of birth defects with residential proximity to commercial agricultural pesticide applications in California. Subjects included 367 cases representing five types of birth defects and 785 nonmalformed controls born 1997 to 2006.

METHODS:Associations with any versus no exposure to physicochemical groups of pesticides and specific chemicals were assessed using logistic regression adjusted for covariates. Overall, 46% of cases and 38% of controls were classified as exposed to pesticides within a 500 m radius of mother’s address during a 3-month periconceptional window.

RESULTS:We estimated odds ratios (ORs) for 85 groups and 95 chemicals with five or more exposed cases and control mothers. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals (CI) excluded 1.0 for 11 ORs for groups and 22 ORs for chemicals, ranging from 1.9 to 3.1 for groups and 1.8 to 4.9 for chemicals except for two that were <1 (noted below).

CONCLUSION:For groups, these ORs were for anotia/microtia (n = 95 cases) and dichlorophenoxy acids/esters and neonicotinoids; anorectal atresia/stenosis (n = 77) and alcohol/ethers and organophosphates (these ORs were < 1.0); transverse limb deficiencies (n = 59) and dichlorophenoxy acids/esters, petroleum derivatives, and triazines; and craniosynostosis (n = 79) and alcohol/ethers, avermectins, neonicotinoids, and organophosphates. For chemicals, ORs were: anotia/microtia and five pesticides from the groups dichlorophenoxy acids/esters, copper-containing compounds, neonicotinoids, organophosphates, and triazines; transverse limb deficiency and six pesticides – oxyfluorfen and pesticides from the groups copper-containing compounds, 2,6-dinitroanilines, neonicotinoids, petroleum derivatives and polyalkyloxy compounds; craniosynostosis and 10 pesticides – oxyfluorfen and pesticides from the groups alcohol/ethers, avermectins, n-methyl-carbamates, neonicotinoids, ogranophosphates (two chemicals), polyalkyloxy compounds (two chemicals), and pyrethroids; and congenital diaphragmatic hernia (n = 62) and a copper-containing compound.  FULL TEXT

Colborn and Carroll, 2007

Colborn, Theo, Lynn Carroll,  “Pesticides, Sexual Development, Reproduction,and Fertility: Current Perspective and Future Direction,” Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 2007, 13:5.

ABSTRACT: Improvements in chemical analytical technology and non-invasive sampling protocols have made it easier to detect pesticides and their metabolites at very low concentrations in human tissues. Monitoring has revealed that pesticides penetrate both maternal and paternal reproductive tissues and organs, thus providing a pathway for initiating harm to their offspring starting before fertilization throughout gestation and lactation. This article explores the literature that addresses the parental pathway of exposure to pesticides. We use DDT/DDE as a model for chemicals that oftentimes upon exposure have no apparent, immediate health impacts, or cause no obvious birth defects, and are seldom linked with cancer. Their health effects are overlooked because they are invisible and not life threatening—but might have significant health, social, and economic impacts at the individual and population levels. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the necessity to develop new approaches for determining the safety of pesticides and the need for innovative regulatory policy to protect human and environmental health. FULL TEXT

Agopian et al, 2013b

Agopian AJ, Lupo PJ, Canfield MA, Langlois PH, “Case-control study of maternal residential atrazine exposure and male genital malformations,” American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, 2013, 161A:5, doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.35815.

ABSTRACT: Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals has been associated with risk for male genital malformations. However, residential prenatal exposure to atrazine, an endocrine disrupting pesticide, has not been evaluated. We obtained data from the Texas Birth Defects Registry for 16,433 cases with isolated male genital malformations and randomly selected, population-based controls delivered during 1999-2008. County-level estimates of atrazine exposure from the United States Geological Survey were linked to all subjects. We evaluated the relationship between estimated maternal residential atrazine exposure and risk for male genital malformations in offspring. Separate unconditional logistic regression analyses were conducted for hypospadias, cryptorchidism, and small penis. We observed modest, but consistent, associations between medium-low and/or medium levels of estimated periconceptional maternal residential atrazine exposure and every male genital malformation category evaluated (e.g., adjusted odds ratio for medium compared to low atrazine levels and all male genital malformations: 1.2, 95% confidence interval: 1.1-1.3). Previous literature from animal and epidemiological studies supports our findings. Our results provide further evidence of a suspected teratogenic role of atrazine. FULL TEXT

Arbuckle et al., 2001

Arbuckle TE, Lin Z, Mery LS., “An exploratory analysis of the effect of pesticide exposure on the risk of spontaneous abortion in an Ontario farm population,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2001, 109: 8.


The toxicity of pesticides on human reproduction is largely unknown–particularly how mixtures of pesticide products might affect fetal toxicity. The Ontario Farm Family Health Study collected data by questionnaire on the identity and timing of pesticide use on the farm, lifestyle factors, and a complete reproductive history from the farm operator and eligible couples living on the farm. A total of 2,110 women provided information on 3,936 pregnancies, including 395 spontaneous abortions. To explore critical windows of exposure and target sites for toxicity, we examined exposures separately for preconception (3 months before and up to month of conception) and postconception (first trimester) windows and for early (< 12 weeks) and late (12-19 weeks) spontaneous abortions. We observed moderate increases in risk of early abortions for preconception exposures to phenoxy acetic acid herbicides [odds ratio (OR) = 1.5; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.1-2.1], triazines (OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0-2.0), and any herbicide (OR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1-1.9). For late abortions, preconception exposure to glyphosate (OR = 1.7; 95% CI, 1.0-2.9), thiocarbamates (OR = 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1-3.0), and the miscellaneous class of pesticides (OR = 1.5; 95% CI, 1.0-2.4) was associated with elevated risks. Postconception exposures were generally associated with late spontaneous abortions. Older maternal age (> 34 years of age) was the strongest risk factor for spontaneous abortions, and we observed several interactions between pesticides in the older age group using Classification and Regression Tree analysis. This study shows that timing of exposure and restricting analyses to more homogeneous endpoints are important in characterizing the reproductive toxicity of pesticides.  FULL TEXT

Acquavella et al., 2004

Acquavella JF, Alexander BH, Mandel JS, Gustin C, Baker B, Chapman P, Bleeke M, “Glyphosate biomonitoring for farmers and their families: results from the Farm Family Exposure Study.” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2004, 112:3.


Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup agricultural herbicides and other herbicide formulations that are widely used for agricultural, forestry, and residential weed control. As part of the Farm Family Exposure Study, we evaluated urinary glyphosate concentrations for 48 farmers, their spouses, and their 79 children (4-18 years of age). We evaluated 24-hr composite urine samples for each family member the day before, the day of, and for 3 days after a glyphosate application. Sixty percent of farmers had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine on the day of application. The geometric mean (GM) concentration was 3 ppb, the maximum value was 233 ppb, and the highest estimated systemic dose was 0.004 mg/kg. Farmers who did not use rubber gloves had higher GM urinary concentrations than did other farmers (10 ppb vs. 2.0 ppb). For spouses, 4% had detectable levels in their urine on the day of application. Their maximum value was 3 ppb. For children, 12% had detectable glyphosate in their urine on the day of application, with a maximum concentration of 29 ppb. All but one of the children with detectable concentrations had helped with the application or were present during herbicide mixing, loading, or application. None of the systemic doses estimated in this study approached the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reference dose for glyphosate of 2 mg/kg/day. Nonetheless, it is advisable to minimize exposure to pesticides, and this study did identify specific practices that could be modified to reduce the potential for exposure.  FULL TEXT

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