Background: Pesticide exposure may be positively associated with depression. Few previous studies have considered the episodic nature of depression or examined individual pesticides.
Objective: We evaluated associations between pesticide exposure and depression among male private pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study.
Methods: We analyzed data for 10 pesticide classes and 50 specific pesticides used by 21,208 applicators enrolled in 1993–1997 who completed a follow-up telephone interview in 2005–2010. We divided applicators who reported a physician diagnosis of depression (n = 1,702; 8%) into those who reported a previous diagnosis of depression at enrollment but not follow-up (n = 474; 28%), at both enrollment and follow-up (n = 540; 32%), and at follow-up but not enrollment (n = 688; 40%) and used polytomous logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs. We used inverse probability weighting to adjust for potential confounders and to account for the exclusion of 3,315 applicators with missing covariate data and 24,619 who did not complete the follow-up interview.
Results: After weighting for potential confounders, missing covariate data, and dropout, ever-use of two pesticide classes, fumigants and organochlorine insecticides, and seven individual pesticides—the fumigants aluminum phosphide and ethylene dibromide; the phenoxy herbicide (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxy)acetic acid (2,4,5-T); the organochlorine insecticide dieldrin; and the organophosphate insecticides diazinon, malathion, and parathion—were all positively associated with depression in each case group, with ORs between 1.1 and 1.9.
Conclusions: Our study supports a positive association between pesticide exposure and depression, including associations with several specific pesticides.
Citation: Beard JD, Umbach DM, Hoppin JA, Richards M, Alavanja MCR, Blair A, Sandler DP, Kamel F. 2014. Pesticide exposure and depression among male private pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study. Environ Health Perspect 122:984–991; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1307450