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Published: 2022-12-29

Blood cholinesterase activities and oxidative stress status among farmworkers using pesticides in Duhok, KRG, Iraq

Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, University of Duhok, KRG, Iraq
Department of Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Mosul, Mosul, Iraq


Background: The use of pesticides by farmworkers poses considerable health risks. This study was undertaken to examine plasma and erythrocyte cholinesterase activities, plasma oxidative biomarkers malondialdehyde (MDA), and total antioxidant status (TAS) among farmworkers using different pesticide products in Duhok, northern of Iraq.

Methods: This is a case-control study conducted between November 2021 to July 2022 on 92 male farmworkers who were exposed to pesticides in comparison with 44 non-exposed male subjects (control). The availability and uses of pesticides were obtained from 19 agrochemical shops and the farmworkers exposed to pesticides. Demographic data of pesticide-exposed farmworkers and their practice of pesticide applications were recorded. Plasma and erythrocyte cholinesterase activities and plasma MDA and TAS levels were determined in both groups.

Results: The farmworkers had a significant 10.0% increase in plasma MDA level, with no significant changes in blood cholinesterase activities or the TAS level. Odds and risk ratios of reduced plasma cholinesterase activity (20.0%) suggested an association of health risks in pesticide-exposed farmworkers. Most of the pesticide products (278) in use were insecticides (47.0%), which comprised mainly 26.0% pyrethroids and 3.0-7.0% anticholinesterase insecticides, among others. The majority of the farmworkers (51%) were merely aware of the general target use of the pesticide, and 75% had an exposure history of > 5 years. Pesticide application was mostly (50.0%) manual, and 54.0% used insufficient personal protection equipment; 32.0% ate and drank at work, 48.0% practiced disposal of empty pesticide containers by burning and/or burying them, whereas 25.0% dumped the containers indiscriminately, and 25% disposed them at garbage sites openly.

Conclusion: The farmworkers, with only a marginal increase in oxidative stress biomarker MDA, did not suffer from significant reductions in blood cholinesterase activities, although odds and risk ratios of reduced plasma cholinesterase activity suggested a health risk. Implementation of a national program is needed to measure pre-exposure blood cholinesterase activities in farmworkers.


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How to Cite

Odisho SK, Mohammad FK. Blood cholinesterase activities and oxidative stress status among farmworkers using pesticides in Duhok, KRG, Iraq. jidhealth [Internet]. 2022 Dec. 29 [cited 2024 Feb. 23];5(4). Available from: