[Effects of aerial applications of the herbicide glyphosate and insecticides on human health]

Biomedica. 2009 Sep;29(3):456-75.
[Article in Spanish]


Introduction: The herbicide glyphosate is administered aerially by the Program to Eradicate Illicit Crops Program and is undertaken in rigorous compliance with the Environmental Management Plan.

Objective: The effects of the glyphosate herbicide and other aerially applied insecticides were measured to determine possible impact on human health.

Materials and methods: In 2006-2006, a survey was taken of 112 individuals living in herbicide-treated areas of the Colombian provinces of Huila, Tolima, Putumayo, Guaviare, Santander, Antioquia, Magdalena and La Guajira. Samples of blood were examined for presence of acetylcholinesterase and organochlorine insecticides; urine was analyzed for glyphosate and its metabolites.

Results: Fifty percent (50%) of the individuals sampled acknowledged the use of control chemicals as part of their work. The mean exposure time to the chemicals was 84.4 months, with a mean daily exposure of 5.6 hours. The most commonly used pesticides were of category I--extremely hazardous. In individuals sampled for glyphosate (39.6% of the total), 64.3% indicated the use of this herbicide at ground level in agricultural work. A statistically significative relationship was found between the use of glyphosate at ground level, and the concentration levels of glyphosate in the urine samples (odds ratio=2.54, 95% CI: 1.08 to 6.8).

Conclusion: These data did not show a relationship between the aerial sprayings of glyphosate for illicit crops eradication and an impact on human health, nor with occupational exposure to this and other chemicals (insecticides) with a high levels of toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colombia
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glycine / toxicity
  • Herbicides / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Control, Formal
  • Young Adult


  • Herbicides
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Insecticides
  • glyphosate
  • Glycine