Insecticide Associated with Death Risk, Study Says

Thinking about spraying for bugs this summer? Dennis Bruemmer, MD, PhD, comments on research that associates an insecticide with risk of cardiovascular death.

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Are you thinking about spraying your house or yard with insecticide to keep bugs at bay this summer?

Recent research suggests some pest control products may increase risk of death.

Cleveland Clinic’s Dennis Bruemmer, MD, PhD, did not take part in the study, but said the research associates a certain type of insecticide with cardiovascular death.

“The investigators basically made the statement that there is an increased death rate in those subjects in the NHANES database that had the highest level of insecticides in their urine.”

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers requested urine samples from over 2,000 people.

They measured the level of pyrethroid insecticide in the samples.

This chemical is widely used in household and garden pest control products, pet sprays and shampoos, lice treatments and mosquito repellents.

Results suggest the highest levels of insecticide found in the samples were associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular-related causes.

Dr. Bruemmer said it’s important to know the number of deaths was very small over time.

However, he said the research is eye opening.

“We have very sensitive testing and we find something in the urine that’s not supposed to be there naturally and it tells us, well, we are exposed to insecticides,” said Dr. Bruemmer.

Dr. Bruemmer recommends limiting exposure to insecticides when possible and advises people to try non-chemical options for pest control first.

Complete results can be found online in JAMA Network Open.

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