Is pesticide exposure a cause of obstructive airways disease?

Emma Doust, Jon G. Ayres, Graham Devereux, Finlay Dick, Joanne O Crawford, Hilary Cowie, Ken Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


A systematic review was performed to identify any associations between pesticide exposure and the occurrence (both prevalence and incidence) of airways disease (asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and wheezing symptoms.

PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, CINAHL, Google Scholar and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched between September 2010 and October 2010 for papers with the inclusion criteria of English language, published after 1990, peer-reviewed and nondietary exposure. From a total of 4390 papers identified, 42 were included after initial assessment of content. After evaluating the included studies for quality, those considered to be at high risk of bias were excluded, leaving a total of 23 relevant papers.

Results suggest that exposure to pesticides may be associated with prevalent asthma, but methodological issues, such as cross-sectional/case–control design, measurements of exposure and limited adjustment for confounders, limit the strength of the evidence base in this area. The association between pesticide exposure and asthma appears to be more evident and consistent in children than in adults. Exposure to pesticides may be associated with COPD; however, the strength of evidence for an association with COPD is weaker than for asthma. As the exposure metrics within each health end-point varied across studies, no meta-analyses were carried out.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-192
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean respiratory review : an official journal of the European Respiratory Society
Issue number132
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014


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