Manganese-Based Pesticides and Their Potential Adverse Health Effects in Idaho Agricultural Workers

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Student Presentation

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Cynthia Curl


Exposure to high levels of manganese as an organic or inorganic compound can lead to detrimental health effects in humans, including manganism, manganese-induced Parkinsonism, and impotence in men. Recent research also suggests the potential for health effects from lower-level, subacute manganese exposure, including decreased neuromuscular function, decreased cognitive function, and poorer performance on neurobehavioral tests. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the potential for low-level exposure to organic manganese among agricultural workers in Idaho and the potential for such exposure to result in adverse health effects. Two commonly used pesticides containing manganese are Maneb and Mancozeb, both of which are fungicides used to treat late blight and leaf spot. These fungicides are commonly used in the production of three of Idaho’s primary crops: potatoes, sugarbeets, and onions. Application techniques for these fungicides include aerial spraying, ground treatments, and seed piece treatments. Aerial spraying and ground treatments have the potential to result in worker exposures through unique pathways. Here, we identify the potential exposure routes associated with each of these application techniques on potatoes, sugarbeets and onions. We also synthesized information from existing literature on the health effects of low-level exposures to manganese in order to evaluate the potential health effects to agricultural workers in Idaho.

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