Organophosphate exposure and the chronic effects on farmers: a narrative review Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION:Organophosphates are a class of insecticides used globally by the agricultural industry for insect control. Acute consequences of organophosphate exposures are well known, while there has been limited research on their long-term effects. The objective of this review was to discuss the health effects of chronic organophosphate exposure in farmers. METHODS:Medline, Scopus and Web of Science were searched to find the relevant articles. Articles published only in English and until December 2018 were reviewed. The selected articles were then categorised as neurological (neurobehaviour, neurodevelopmental, neurological signs and symptoms) or non-neurological subheadings. RESULTS:A total of 53 articles for neurological effects and 17 articles for non-neurological effects were identified. Chronic organophosphates exposure was associated with deficits in the neurobehaviour subsets of attention and short-term memory, increased incidence of neurodegenerative diseases and effects on peripheral nerves and neurodevelopment. However, research to support non-neurological effects such as respiratory symptoms, increased cancer risk, endocrine disruption, cardiac issues, chronic fatigue and infertility was limited. CONCLUSION:Chronic organophosphate exposure was found to affect four of the five areas of described neurological effects in the literature. A large proportion of the research in this area was not methodologically strong, therefore few recommendations can be conclusively made. Future research is warranted to investigate the non-neurological effects of chronic exposure to ensure the occupational risks of low-level chronic exposure are clearly communicated to farmers and farm workers.

publication date

  • 2020