Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The organophosphate Monocrotophos as cause of the India school lunch deaths

07.08.2013
An editorial to be published in Archives of Toxicology by members of the ESNATS consortium

Poisoning through environmental chemicals has been with humans for a long time: from lead poisoning in ancient Rome over workplace exposure to mercury in 19th century Britain to multiple tragedies due to environmental poising in the 20th century. Most recently, on July 16th 2013, 23 Indian schoolchildren died in the Gandaman village after eating a contaminated school lunch. The deaths were more than likely caused by an acute intoxication from the pesticide monocrotophos.

Forensic analysis reported high levels of monocrotophos in the cooking oil used for preparing the school lunches, and a container previously used to store pesticides was found in the kitchen area. Following this incident, an improved understanding of the impact of pesticides on human health is essential.

In an editorial to be published in Archives of Toxicology, appearing online at http://link.springer.com/journal/204 in mid-August and in print around September 15th, toxicology and stem cell scientist members of an EUFP7 funded consortium to develop alternative human stem cell based models for toxicology (ESNATS) comment on Gandaman village tragedy. Monocrotophos is a chemical belonging to the group of organophosphates. The pesticide is insecticidal, but also highly toxic to other animals, including birds and mammals.

Its use has therefore been banned in many Western countries. It is however still used in South America, Africa and Asia, including India. The apparently high efficacy of crop protection by monocrotophos probably explains the continued use of this dangerous pesticide in certain countries. To put things in context, malnutrition in India is very common. According to UNICEF, one in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India (UNICEF website). India desperately needs food and its poor depend heavily on affordable mass production, which includes the use of cheap and potentially very toxic pesticides. Such pesticides will therefore stay around for the foreseeable future.

Following the Gandaman incident, the superintendent of the Medical College hospital in Patna (a city close to Gandaman) downplayed the effects of acute poisoning , saying that children who survived the acute intoxication will have “no remnant effects on them” (Huffington Post 2013/07/18). Professor of Medicine Karl-Heinz Krause, Geneva/Switzerland says: “This statement is misleading as long-term consequences of organophosphates poisoning include organophosphate-induced delayed polyneuropathy and chronic organophosphate-induced neuropsychiatric disorder. Such long term toxicity of organophosphates may even occur in the absence of documented acute intoxication and such cases might be much more frequent than fatal acute intoxications. In addition, low-level prenatal exposure is associated with reduced IQ scores and deficits in working memory.”

To the best of present medical knowledge, monocrotophos is not devoid of this long-term organophosphate toxicity, but reports are more sketchy than for other pesticides. Toxicologists Professor Jan Hengstler and Dr Christoph van Thriel, Dortmund/Germany say: “When it comes to protecting the legal rights of victims and their families, our present medical knowledge is not good enough. Toxicity mechanisms need to be demonstrated and unequivocal cause/consequence chains need to be established.”

“Understanding the mechanisms of organophosphate toxicity is critical in two respects. First, therapeutic strategies for patients exposed to these toxics can be developed. Second, such studies should allow legislators to create legal frameworks that encourage the use of pesticides with the least unfavorable toxicology profile.”, says Professor Marcel Leist, Konstanz/Germany.

It is crucial to identify low cost pesticides with as little long-term toxicity as possible. To achieve this goal, collaboration between clinical, epidemiological, and experimental toxicologists is necessary. Toxicologists need to study the impact of toxic compounds in physiologically relevant model systems, rather than using only immortalized cell lines, and to study the impact of toxics in human model systems, instead of relying exclusively on results obtained in other species.

Dr. Paul de Sousa, University of Edinburgh/UK explains: “The advent of pluripotent stem cells (PSC) provides significant opportunities for such studies. The impact of toxics on virtually all types of cell types can be studied without recourse to immortalized cell lines.” The European consortium ESNATS (Embryonic Stem cell-based Novel Alternative Testing Strategies), a partnership of scientists from 29 organisations from all over Europe and Israel receives funding from the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development to develop pluripotent stem cell-based toxicity tests.

First results demonstrate that such test systems may indeed become powerful tools. The use of PSC technology is threefold. It allows for ethnic diversity of humans to be included in analysis, for toxics to be tested on tissues rather than on isolated cells, and for mice to be generated with humanized organs, advancing the level of complexity required for translatable experimental toxicology research.

Contacts:

Prof. Karl-Heinz Krause, Dept. of Pathology and Immunology, Geneva Medical Faculty (Switzerland)
Tel: +41-22-3794131
e-mail: Karl-Heinz.Krause@unige.ch
Prof. Jan G. Hengstler, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors (IfADo,) Dortmund (Germany)
Tel: +49-231-1084-348
e-mail: hengstler@ifado.de
Dr. Christoph van Thriel, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors (IfADo,) Dortmund (Germany)
Tel: +49-231-1084-407
e-mail: thriel@ifado.de
Prof. Marcel Leist, Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences, University of Konstanz (Germany)
Tel: +49-7531-88-5037 (secr.: 5038)
e-mail: marcel.leist@uni-konstanz.de
Dr. Paul A. de Sousa, Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh
Tel: +44-131-242 6200
e-mail: Paul.desousa@ed.ac.uk
For more information on the ESNATS project, please contact the ESNATS Project Office: ARTTIC, Paris (France)
esnats-arttic@eurtd.org
http://www.esnats.eu

Prof. Jan G. Hengstler | idw
Further information:
http://www.ifado.de/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia

nachricht New type of blood cells work as indicators of autoimmunity
14.08.2017 | Instituto de Medicina Molecular

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>