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Pesticides linked to suicidal thoughts

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People with higher levels of pesticide exposure are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, researchers in China and Britain found.

Dr. Robert Stewart of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, who worked with the scientists from Tongde Hospital Zhejiang Province, said agricultural pesticides commonly used in China are organophosphates, in wide use in lower income countries, but banned in many Western nations.

The survey was of a representative sample of 9,811 rural residents in Zhejiang province who had been asked about the storage of pesticides at home and about whether or not they had considered suicide within the two years before the interview.

The study, published in the World Health Organization Bulletin, found that people who stored pesticides at home – i.e. those with more exposure – were more likely to report recent suicidal thoughts. The survey also said suicidal thoughts were associated with how easily accessible these pesticides were in the home, and that the geographic areas with highest home storage of pesticides also had highest levels of suicidal thoughts in their populations.

“Organophosphate pesticides are particularly lethal chemicals when taken in overdose and are a cause of many suicides worldwide. Our findings suggest that higher exposure to these chemicals might actually increase the risk of suicidal thoughts,” the study said.

The full article can be accessed on http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/10/08-054122.pdf.


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