We examined the effects of pesticides on the central and peripheral nervous system in the setting of a tobacco farm at a developing country. Maximal motor and sensory nerve conduction velocities (MCV and SCV, respectively) in the median, sural and tibial nerves, postural sway, and brain-evoked potentials (auditory event-related and visual-evoked potentials) were measured in 80 male tobacco farmers and age- and sex-matched 40 controls in Kelantan, Malaysia. Median SCV (finger-wrist) in farmers using Delsen (mancozeb, dithiocarbamate fungicide), who showed significant decrease of serum cholinesterase activities, were significantly lower compared with the controls. Sural SCV in farmers using Fastac (alpha-cypermethrin, pyrethroid insecticide) and median MCV (elbow-wrist) in farmers using Tamex (butralin, dinitroaniline herbicide) were significantly slowed compared with their respective controls. In Delsen (mancozeb, dithiocarbamate) users, the power of postural sway of 0-1 Hz was significantly larger than that in the controls both in the anterior-posterior direction with eyes open and in the right-left direction with eyes closed. The former type of sway was also significantly increased in Tamaron (methamidophos, organophosphorus insecticide) users. In conclusion, nerve conduction velocities and postural sway seem to be sensitive indicators of the effects of pesticides on the central and peripheral nervous system.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.