Human consumption of agricultural toxicants from organic and conventional food

Human consumption of agricultural toxicants from organic and conventional food

Oates, L, Cohen, M, (2009) Human consumption of agricultural toxicants from organic and conventional food. Journal of Organic Systems. 4 (1) p48-57

Abstract

 

Over the past 60 years both the number of agricultural toxicants in use and rates of toxin-related diseases have increased dramatically, and countless studies attest to a link between the two. While data from residue surveys confirms higher levels of toxicants in conventionally farmed produce, few studies directly assess
whether consuming organic produce results in a reduction in pesticide exposure in humans or confers any health benefits. Future research needs to confirm whether and to what extent agricultural toxicant levels vary between consumers of organic and conventional produce before attempting to draw any conclusions about
the potential health implications of such differences.

Reduction in urinary organophosphate pesticides metabolites in adults after a week-long organic diet

Reduction in urinary organophosphate pesticides metabolites in adults after a week-long organic diet

Oates, L., Cohen, M., Braun, L., Schembri, A., Taskova, R. (2014) Reduction in Urinary Organophosphate Pesticides Metabolites in Adults after a Week-Long Organic Diet. Environmental Research 132: 105-111

Abstract

 

BACKGROUND: Conventional food production commonly uses organophosphate (OP) pesticides, which can have negative health effects, while organic food is deemed healthier because it is produced without these pesticides. Studies suggest that organic food consumption may significantly reduce OP pesticide exposure in children who have relatively higher pesticide exposure than adults due to their different diets, body weight, behaviour and less efficient metabolism.
OBJECTIVES: A prospective, randomised, crossover study was conducted to determine if an organic food diet reduces organophosphate exposure in adults.
METHODS: Thirteen participants were randomly allocated to consume a diet of at least 80% organic or conventional food for 7 days and then crossed over to the alternate diet. Urinary levels of six dialkylphosphate metabolites were analysed in first-morning voids collected on day 8 of each phase using GC-MS/MS with detection limits of 0.11-0.51 μg/L.
RESULTS: The mean total DAP results in the organic phase were 89% lower than in the conventional phase (M=0.032 [SD=0.038] and 0.294 [SD=0.435] respectively, p=0.013). For total dimethyl DAPs there was a 96% reduction (M=0.011 [SD=0.023] and 0.252 [SD=0.403] respectively, p=0.005). Mean total diethyl DAP levels in the organic phase were half those of the conventional phase (M=0.021 [SD=0.020] and 0.042 [SD=0.038] respectively), yet the wide variability and small sample size meant the difference was not statistically significant.
CONCLUSIONS: The consumption of an organic diet for one week significantly reduced OP pesticide exposure in adults. Larger scale studies in different populations are required to confirm these findings and investigate their clinical relevance.

Environmental chemicals in clinical practice: unveiling the elephant in the room

Environmental chemicals in clinical practice: unveiling the elephant in the room

Bijlsma, N., Cohen, M. (2016) Environmental chemicals in clinical practice: unveiling the elephant in the room. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 13(2), 181; doi:10.3390/ijerph13020181

Abstract

 

A growing body of evidence suggests chemicals present in air, water, soil, food, building materials and household products are toxicants that contribute to the many chronic diseases typically seen in routine medical practice. Yet, despite calls from numerous organisations to provide clinicians with more training and awareness in environmental health, there are multiple barriers to the clinical assessment of toxic environmental exposures. Recent developments in the fields of systems biology, innovative breakthroughs in biomedical research encompassing the “-omics” fields, and advances in mobile sensing, peer-to-peer networks and big data, provide tools that future clinicians can use to assess environmental chemical exposures in their patients. There is also a need for concerted action at all levels, including actions by individual patients, clinicians, medical educators, regulators, government and non-government organisations, corporations and the wider civil society, to understand the “exposome” and minimise the extent of toxic exposures on current and future generations. Clinical environmental chemical risk assessment may provide a bridge between multiple disciplines that uses new technologies to herald in a new era in personalised medicine that unites clinicians, patients and civil society in the quest to understand and master the links between the environment and human health.