The Toxic Effects of the
Organophosphate Pesticide Dursban
on the Immune System
In a studies by the Department of Health Science at California
State University, individuals were studied for abnormalities in
their immune system function for 1 to 4.5 years after they became
ill when their home or place of employment was treated with the
organophosphate pesticide Dursban (also called chlorpyrifos).
Immediately following each patient's exposure to the pesticide,
common complaints included: an initial flu-like illness followed
by chronic complaints of fatigue, headaches, dizziness, loss of
memory, upper and lower respiratory symptoms, joint and muscle
pain and gastrointestinal disturbances.
The subjects were found to have an elevated number of CD26 cells
and a higher rate of autoimmunity [when the person's own immune
system mistakenly makes antibodies which attack their own body
problems] compared with two other control groups.
Autoantibodies were found toward: smooth muscle, parietal cell,
brush border, thyroid gland, myelin, and ANA.
While 83% of the pesticide exposed people were found to have
autoantibodies in their blood, in comparison, only 15% of the non-
exposed control group had such antibodies.
Fifty percent (50%) of the pesticide exposed people were also
found to have two or more autoantibodies in comparison to only
four percent (4%) for the non-exposed group.
In conclusion the researchers stated:
...the presence of several different types of autoantibodies, e.g.,
antimyelin, antismooth muscle, anti brush boarder, and antimicrosomal,
indicates that GENERALIZED TISSUE INJURY has occurred.
Moreover, these identical observations have been made in additional
chlorpyrifos patients. Thus, chlorpyrifos (Dursban), as used in pesticide
spray, should be examined more closely as a probable immunotoxin."
[Additional research concluded that the immunotoxic qualities may
extend a decade or longer after exposure].
--SOURCE: Archives of Environmental Health, 48(2):89-93,
March/April 1993. Jack D. Thrasher Ph.D., Roberta Madison,
Alan Broughton, Department of Health Science, California State University.
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