Cancer research on spraying of farm chemicals

Massey University wants farmers for its research on chemicals and cancer.

Massey University wants farmers for its research on chemicals and cancer.

Massey University research is checking whether chemicals sprayed on farms cause cancer by testing farmers' blood and urine samples.

"The idea is we find out and how to apply chemicals safely as well as which ones might be cancer-causing," said study research nurse Heather Duckett.

She said there was a cancer registration and it had many farmers on the list with cancer of the lymph glands and blood cancer.

Duckett said the research would monitor 100 people who used pesticides, such as weed killers, drenches or pour-ons, and 50 people who worked with animals, but did not apply chemicals.

She said almost 100 growers, farmers and contractors who used chemicals had agreed to be researched and only a few more were needed.

But getting 50 rural non-chemical users as a comparison, had been a struggle, she said.

"And some in the orcharding community are worried about the result. But in orchards they wear protective clothing, masks and gloves. Then there are some rural people who spray in shorts and jandals."

She said it was looking at protection and safety as a major issue of using chemicals.

Duckett said the research area was at Hawke's Bay to New Plymouth and south to Wellington.

She said each person taking part in the study, would be visited twice at a time convenient to them.

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She said she would take blood for testing and the people taking part would hand over urine specimens, taken in the morning and after spraying.

That way researchers could see what changes, if any, resulted.

Duckett said all samples will be analysed for genetic damage and for immune function.

She said as well as the blood and urine samples, participants would also take part in a questionnaire which included how they managed a chemical spill, and when they changed clothes after spraying or applying chemicals.

She said the report would be collated half way through next year and the results known about the end of 2016.


 - Stuff

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