Olfactory Function in Latino Farmworkers Over 2 Years: Longitudinal Exploration of Subclinical Neurological Effects of Pesticide Exposure

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We compared patterns of olfactory function over 2 years in pesticide-exposed male Latino farmworkers and male Latino workers in industries without pesticide exposure.


At five points over 2 years, workers completed tests of odor threshold (16 concentrations of n-butanol) using a well-established methodology. Tests at two or more time points were completed by 156 farmworkers and 118 non-farmworkers.


Farmworkers required significantly higher odorant concentrations at Contact 1 and across the 2-year follow-up to detect the odor. When adjusted for Contact 1, between-group differences persisted, but odor threshold performance did not worsen over time.


Pesticide exposure has been linked to neurodegenerative disease, as has declining olfactory function. Persistently poorer olfactory function among pesticide-exposed workers suggests the need to monitor neurological function in this vulnerable worker population.

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