Health Status of Pesticide Applicators: Postural Stability Assessments

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Postural sway testing was performed on 37 pesticide-exposed workers and 35 nonexposed subjects. All subjects were asymptomatic. When ratios of sway measurements in different test conditions were investigated, total length ‘ of sway was significantly different between groups (P = .0001). Weight/ height (P = .0006), exposure to pesticides (P = .0215), recent organophosphate exposure (P = .0391), and plasma cholinesterase level (P = .1537) were associated with increased body sway. The pattern of sway performance suggested a proprioceptive impairment, well compensated by visual cues, potentially attributable to pesticide exposure. This finding is of unclear clinical significance because results of neurologic examinations and nerve conduction studies that were reported separately did not show evidence of neuropathy. Postural sway testing is a simple, sensitive, noninvasive, and reproducible technique to evaluate subtle neurologic dysfunction. These findings are preliminary. Further studies are required to validate the findings and, if confirmed, to explore their functional or clinical significance.

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