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Indoor Use of Pesticides and Chronic Kidney Disease

Indoor pesticide application Credit: Wikipedia

A recent study found that indoor use of pesticides is associated with a higher risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Especially in women.

The researchers found that the longer the pesticide exposure time, the higher the risk, even among persons without any underlying risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension. This type of CKD, without known causes, is known as chronic kidney disease of unknown origins (CKDu).

CKDu has already been linked with outdoor use of pesticides, including glyphosate and malathion. This disease is on the rise globally, so studies like this one looking at indoor pesticides are important. When pesticides are applied indoors, persons living there are exposed (breathe in) pesticides for a long time. They do not break down like outdoors, where there is sunlight and rain.

The kidneys are one of the most important organs for filtering waste out of the human body. We need to protect them! One way is to use least-toxic Integrative Pest Management (IPM) when needing to control pests indoors (e.g., by caulking holes, using baits or traps).

Excerpts from Beyond Pesticides: Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origins Linked To Indoor Pesticide Use, Disproportionately Affecting Women

A study published in PLOS ONE finds a pointed, positive association between chronic kidney disease (CKD) of unknown origins (CKDu) and the use of indoor pesticides. Longer exposure times have an especially detrimental impact on kidney function, even among individuals without underlying diseases like diabetes mellitus and hypertension. The innovation of this study’s purpose highlights the lack of exposure-related studies on kidney health outcomes associated with indoor pesticide use.

Although CKD risk increases with age and is associated with other health factors like smoking, heart disease, and diabetes, cases without clear causes are increasingly common, indicating that environmental factors are likely playing a roleOver six million people in the U.S. have kidney disease (i.e., nephritis [kidney inflammation], nephrotic syndrome [improper protein filtration], and nephrosis).

Although many studies find an association between exposure to outdoor environmental contaminants like pesticides and CKD, the association between CKDu and indoor pesticides—whose uses are more commonly concentrated in homes— remains unclear. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need for comprehensive information regarding co-occurring exposure patterns and disease prevalence that can have global implications.

The study notes, “Previous research has highlighted the potential harm of pesticides on kidney function, particularly in outdoor uses. Our findings raise concerns about the impact of indoor pesticide use on kidney function in individuals without common risk factors for CKD....”

The growing epidemic of CKDu globally, especially among residents of agricultural communities, has scientists questioning the cause of CKDu and if pesticide use plays a role in disease prognosis.  Using a population-based study, the Prospective Epidemiological Research Studies in Iran, the researchers tested individuals to estimate a glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of less than 60 ml/min/1.73 m2 to indicate CKDu....

The results find that the prevalence of CKD in females was 2.6 times higher than in male subjects. The duration of exposure to indoor use of pesticides is significantly higher in subjects in the CKDu group than those in the non-CKDu group (50.3% and 40.8%, respectively). Additionally, single women participating in low physical activity, with triglyceride (TG) levels of more than 150 mg/dl, a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 kg/m2, a non-smoker, and high pesticide exposure time for indoor pesticide use have a greater association with CKDu. 

Many studies document pesticides’ impacts on kidney function, finding a range of chemicals linked to kidney damage. Even among the 40 most commonly used lawn care pesticides, 80 percent have associations with kidney or liver damage. These chemicals include widely used herbicides like glyphosate and organophosphate insecticides like malathion. Glyphosate was initially created as a chelating agent (bonding ions and molecules to metal ions) to form strong chemical bonds with metals.

The study finds longer exposure to indoor pesticides is more frequent among patients with CKDu, with a history of indoor pesticide use having 1.36 times higher odds of CKDu.

The study suggests the disproportionate risk of CKDu to women may be because women spend more time at home in pesticide-treated areas, increasing the risk of pesticide exposure. Moreover, patients who experience the highest quartile of pesticide exposure duration in the study have a 1.64 times higher risk of developing CKDu compared to individuals who never used indoor pesticides.

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