Comprehensive assessment of unutilized and obsolete pesticides impact on genetic status and health of population of Almaty region

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2020 Oct 1;202:110905. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2020.110905. Epub 2020 Jul 4.


The group of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are particularly dangerous for the environment and by consequence for human health because of the risk to be transmitted in the food chain. Among them, the urgent problem of obsolete and forbidden organochlorinated pesticides (OCPs) needs a rigorous management in many countries, including Kazakhstan. The aim of our study was to evaluate the effect of pesticides content in food products on the genetic status and health of the population living on the contaminated areas near destroyed warehouses for OCPs (4 villages of Talgar district and 1 control site, Almaty region). The food products sampled in Taukaraturyk (control site), and in 4 villages where non-utilized obsolete pesticides were discovered: Beskainar, Kyzylkairat, Amangeldy, and Belbulak. The contents of 24 pesticides in food products from plant (apples, pears, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers) and animal (beef meat, cow milk, honey) origin, that grown in places of localization of non-utilized OCPs, were determined, sometimes in high and unacceptably high concentrations (before 2500 times over MRL). In pears, the pesticides content (especially DDT, γ-HCH, β-HCH, endosulfan, and aldrin pesticide group), was higher than in other fruits. Among vegetables, the highest levels of all groups of pesticide were found in cucumbers. Beef meat samples demonstrated increased contents of β-HCH, γ-HCH, endrin and dieldrin. In cow milk samples only the high concentration of dieldrin was found. The content of pesticides in meat was 4-5 times higher than in milk. The medical examinations, carried out among the cohorts living around the polluted by pesticides territories and control cohort from ecologically favorable village, showed that there were more individuals with high and middle levels of somatic health in the control group than in groups exposed to OCPs. The long-term effect of the pesticide contamination of the environment on genetic status of the population was assessed by chromosomal aberration (CA) frequencies. The highest level of chromosomal aberrations was identified for the examined residents of Kyzylkairat (41%) and Belbulak (38%), a high level in Amangeldy (12%), and middle level in Beskainar (6.5%). The association between the CA frequency, health status and the pesticides contents in food were assessed by a Spearman rank correlation. The low indicators of somatic health status were strictly associated with high levels of CA, and good health status indicates that the CA rates did not exceed the spontaneous level of mutagenesis. The strongest correlation was shown between high levels of chromosomal aberrations and the content of different pesticides in pears (Cr = 0.979-0.467), tomatoes (Cr = 0.877-0.476), cucumbers (Cr = 0.975-0.553) and meat (Cr = 0.839-0.368). The obtained results highlight the need to improve health protection by increasing the public awareness to the security of the storage of obsolete OCPs in order to strengthen food safety by efficient control services.

Keywords: Food products; Genetic status; OCPs; Rank correlation; Somatic health.

MeSH terms

  • Aldrin / analysis
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Dieldrin / analysis
  • Endosulfan / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis
  • Pesticides / analysis*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane
  • Dieldrin
  • Endosulfan
  • Aldrin
  • beta-hexachlorocyclohexane