Amid growing concerns about the potential for Roundup exposure to cause cancer, new research shows that long-term use of common household pesticides, like Raid insect spray, mosquito repellant and other popular pest control products, may increase an individual’s risk of death from heart disease and other causes. According to the study, published on December 30 in JAMA Internal Medicine, environmental exposure to pyrethroid-based insecticides is associated with an increased risk of death from all causes and death from cardiovascular disease. If someone you love has died from heart disease or another medical condition and you believe pesticide exposure to be the cause, do not hesitate to seek legal help. Contact a knowledgeable product liability lawyer as soon as possible to explore your legal options.
Pyrethroids are among the most commonly used insecticides in the United States and they constitute the majority of household insecticides, including Raid insect killer, Rid lice killing shampoo and Advantage flea and tick treatments for pets, among other pest control products. They are also used in various commercial insecticide brands and are widely used for pest control purposes in agricultural, residential and public settings. Metabolites of pyrethroids, like 3-phenoxybenzoic acid, a commonly used biomarker for pyrethroid exposure, can be measured in the urine of people who are exposed to the insecticides, which is how the researchers in this study determined the levels of pyrethroid exposure among the study participants.
In this new study, researchers from the University of Iowa examined a nationally representative sample of 2,116 adults in the United States who participated in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, which followed participants for an average of 14 years. Urine samples were collected from the study participants in order to measure levels of pyrethroid metabolites and determine the extent of their exposure to the chemical. These results were then compared to mortality data from the survey date through December 31, 2015. During the course of the study period, there were 246 deaths, 41 of which were associated with heart disease and 52 of which were associated with cancer. Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that environmental exposure to pyrethroid insecticides was associated with an increased risk of death from all causes and death from cardiovascular disease.
Short-term or limited exposure to pyrethroid chemicals is not likely to cause harm in humans, the study authors noted. However, the cumulative effects of prolonged exposure to pyrethroid chemicals can cause serious adverse health effects, including death. The results of the study indicate that those with the highest levels of exposure to pyrethroid insecticides (determined by the levels of 3-phenoxybenzoic acid in their urine samples) were 56% more likely to die of any cause and were three times more likely to die of heart disease, compared to those with the lowest levels of exposure. “Environmental exposure to pyrethroid insecticides was significantly associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality in the U.S. general adult population,” the authors concluded. “The observed association is likely associated with pyrethroid-induced adverse effects on the cardiovascular system.”
This study does not take into account how the study participants came to be exposed to pyrethroids. However, previous research shows that most pyrethroid exposure occurs when people eat fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with pyrethroid insecticides. Pesticides are used to protect the food supply from unwanted insects and other potentially harmful pests, but more and more attention has been paid recently to the dangers associated with consuming chemical pesticides. Another significant source of exposure to pyrethroids is residential use of insecticides for pest control in homes and gardens. Many homeowners use pesticides around their homes to kill or control insects and other pests and pyrethroids can even be found in household dust in homes where the pesticides are sprayed. The researchers from the University of Iowa note in their study conclusion that the market share of pyrethroid insecticides has increased since the study period, which covered from 1999 to 2002, which means it is likely that the rate of heart disease-related deaths from exposure to pyrethroids has increased as well.