Association between organophosphate pesticides exposure and thyroid hormones in floriculture workers

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2010 Feb 15;243(1):19-26. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2009.11.008. Epub 2009 Nov 13.


The ability of organophosphate pesticides to disturb thyroid gland function has been demonstrated by experimental studies on animal, but evidence of such effects on human remains scarce. The aim of this study was to assess the association between exposure to organophosphate compounds and serum levels of thyroid hormones in floriculture workers. A longitudinal study was conducted on 136 male subjects from the State of Mexico and Morelos, Mexico, occupationally exposed to organophosphate pesticides, during agricultural periods of high (rainy season) and low (dry season) levels of pesticide application. Using a structured questionnaire, a survey was carried out on sociodemographic characteristics, anthropometry, clinical history, alcohol and tobacco consumption, residential chemical exposure, and occupational history. Urine and blood samples were taken the day after pesticide application to determine urine dialkylphosphate (DAP) levels, serum levels of TSH, total T(3), total T(4), serum PON1 activity, and serum p,p'-DEE levels. The analysis of the association between DAP levels and thyroid hormonal profile was carried out using multivariate generalized estimating equation (GEE) models. Our results showed an increase in both TSH and T(4) hormones in serum associated with a increase in total dimethylphosphate levels (SigmaDMP) in urine (p-trend<0.001) and a decrease in total T(3) serum levels with an increase of SigmaDMP levels in the urine (p-trend=0.053). These results suggest that exposure to organophosphate pesticides may be responsible of increasing TSH and T(4) serum hormone levels and decreasing T(3) serum hormone levels, therefore supporting the hypothesis that organophosphate pesticides act as endocrine disruptors in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agriculture
  • Biomarkers
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Organophosphates / adverse effects*
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Seasons
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects
  • Thyrotropin / blood*
  • Thyroxine / blood*
  • Triiodothyronine / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Organophosphates
  • Pesticides
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroxine