Pulmonary toxicity associated with occupational and environmental exposure to pesticides and herbicides

A. Bast*, K.O. Semen, M. Drent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Purpose of review Critical review on the notion that exposure to pesticides and herbicides lead to adverse effects in pulmonary health. Recent findings The lung effects of several chemical classes of pesticides and herbicides is biologically plausible. However, the studies that describe the association between exposure and toxic lung effects have numerous limitations. Critical evaluation of the studies that are performed shows that assessment of occupational or environmental exposure to pesticides and herbicides is cumbersome. Moreover, the health effects are not always clearly established due to the use of questionnaires and self-reported data instead of lung function measurements or diagnostic work-up by physicians. Future studies should preferably better characterize the exposure. Genetic phenotyping should be included to understand and strengthen possible (individual) associations between exposure and health outcome. It should be realized that combined exposure to multiple environmental chemicals may lead to different health effects than exposure to individual chemicals. The relation between exposure to pesticides and herbicides and lung toxicity is less clear than generally assumed. Adverse lung effects seem multifactorial and needs further research. Preventive measures remain key.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-283
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • environmental
  • glyphosate
  • herbicides
  • meta analysis
  • organophosphate
  • paraquat
  • pesticides
  • LUNG

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