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Scientists find more health implications on pesticide use in agriculture

A new report published in the scientific journal, the Lancet, in December reveals unexpected health effects of wide pesticide use in agriculture.

Researchers at Nijmegen University in the Netherlands have carried out 15 years of research on resistant funghi (part of the azoles-group). These funghi cause serious lung problems in humans which can often be life-threatening as the existing medicines not function anymore.

This latest report, ‘Azole resistance in Aspergillus fumigatus: a side-effect of environmental fungicide use?’ finds that through agriculture the resistant fungi is exposed to human lungs through dust.

These new findings help to re-inforce calls from the NGO community to bring about a ban of the use of the azoles-group in pesticides


Invasive aspergillosis due to multi-azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus has emerged in the Netherlands since 1999, with 6.0—12.8% of patients harbouring resistant isolates. The presence of a single resistance mechanism (denoted by TR/L98H), which consists of a substitution at codon 98 of cyp51A and a 34-bp tandem repeat in the gene-promoter region, was found in over 90% of clinical A fumigatus isolates. This is consistent with a route of resistance development through exposure to azole compounds in the environment. Indeed, TR/L98H A fumigatus isolates were cultured from soil and compost, were shown to be cross-resistant to azole fungicides, and genetically related to clinical resistant isolates. Azoles are abundantly used in the environment and the presence of A fumigatus resistant to medical triazoles is a major challenge because of the possibility of worldwide spread of resistant isolates. Reports of TR/L98H in other European countries indicate that resistance might already be spreading.

Last updated on 8 June 2011

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