Universiteit Leiden

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Pesticides and health – challenges and opportunities for exposure assessment

The aim is to develop methods to assess environmental and occupational exposure to (individual) pesticides, to be applied in epidemiological studies investigating pesticide exposure and human health. Furthermore, we aim to investigate the potential association between exposure to pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease in the Netherlands.

Looptijd 2010  -  2017
Contact Geert de Snoo
Financiering PAGES was partly supported by Stichting Internationaal Parkinson FondsPAGES was partly supported by Stichting Internationaal Parkinson Fonds
  NLCS was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research (ZonMW)NLCS was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research (ZonMW)
  AGRICOH was supported by the Office National de l’Eau et des Milieux Aquatique (ONEMA), FranceAGRICOH was supported by the Office National de l’Eau et des Milieux Aquatique (ONEMA), France


Short abstract

Pesticides are widely used in agriculture to control pests and maximize crop yields. During and after application, agricultural workers can be exposed to these pesticides. In addition, pesticides can drift from their intended application sites, which may result in environmental exposure of neighboring residential areas. Exposure to pesticides has been associated with a wide range of health effects, among which neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease. Exposure assessment for pesticides is challenging, however, and especially retrospectively, due to the wide range of pesticide products registered over time and selective use by farmers. My research consists of three separate projects where the focus lies on methods to assess exposure to pesticides, and the possible association between pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease.

Project description


The Parkinson’s Genes and Environment Study (PAGES) is a multicenter case-control study on Parkinson’s disease. Within this study we are developing methods to assess life-time environmental exposure to individual pesticides in the Netherlands, based on residential histories of the study participants. These exposure estimates will be used to study the potential association between environmental exposure and Parkinson’s Disease risk.


Within the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer (NLCS), a large population based cohort study, we investigate the association between different occupational exposures, among which exposure to pesticides, and Parkinson’s Disease mortality.


AGRICOH is a consortium of agricultural cohort studies. Within the first pooling project of this consortium, we are developing methods to assess occupational exposure to individual pesticides and pesticide chemical groups, across three cohort studies.

More information about the AGRICOH consortium:  http://agricoh.iarc.fr/

Peer-reviewed publications

Brouwer, M., Koeman, T., van den Brandt, P.A., Kromhout, H., Schouten, L.J., Peters, S.M., Huss, A. and Vermeulen, R.C.H. (2015). Occupational exposures and Parkinson’s disease mortality in a prospective Dutch cohort. Occup Environ Med, doi:10.1136/oemed-2014-102209.

van der Mark, M., Vermeulen, R.C.H., Nijssen, P.C.G., Mulleners, W.M., Sas, A.M.G., van Laar, T., Brouwer, M., Huss, A. and Kromhout, H. (2014). Occupational exposure to pesticides and endotoxin and Parkinson disease in the Netherlands. Occup Environ Med, 71(11):757-64.

Brouwer, M., Huss, A., Vermeulen, R.C.H., Nijssen, P.C.G., de Snoo, G.R. and Kromhout, H. (2014). Expert assessment of historical crop specific pesticide use in the Netherlands. Occup Environ Med, 71(10):717-22.

van der Mark, M., Brouwer, M., Kromhout, H., Nijssen, P.C.G., Huss, A. and Vermeulen, R.C.H. (2012). Is pesticide use related to Parkinson disease? Some clues to heterogeneity in study results. Environmental Health Perspectives, 120(3):340-47.

Book chapter

Brouwer, M. and Duyzer, J.H. (2012). Bestrijdingsmiddelen in neerslag en lucht (hoofdstuk 9). In: Snoo, G.R, de, Vijver, M.G. (Eds.). Bestrijdingsmiddelen en waterkwaliteit. Leiden: Universiteit Leiden - Centrum voor Milieuwetenschappen (CML). pp. 111-119.