Northeast Iowa Well Water Study

You are here

Project Period: 
2018 to 2019
Collaborating Institution(s): 
Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination
University of Iowa College of Public Health (Department of Epidemiology and Department of Occupational and Environmental Health),
U.S. Geological Survey
IIHR Hydroscience and Engineering
Iowa Geological and Water Survey
National Cancer Institute
State Hygienic Laboratory at University of Iowa
Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Project Investigator(s): 
Darrin Thompson, University of Iowa College of Public Health/CHEEC
Bill Field, Hans-Joachim Lehmler, Charles Lynch, University of Iowa College of Public Health
Susie Dai, John Vargo, State Hygienic Laboratory
David Cwiertny, College of Engineering/CHEEC
Rena Jones, Mary Ward, John Hofmann, Laura Beane-Freeman, National Cancer Institute
Dana Kolpin, Michelle Hladik, US Geological Survey
Cynthia Hines, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Funding Agency: 
Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination
U.S. Geological Survey
National Cancer Institute

Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of insecticide, but have quickly become the most widely used class of agricultural insecticides in the world. Historically, neonicotinoid insecticides have been viewed as ideal replacements for more toxic compounds, like organophosphates, due in part to their perceived limited potential to impact the environment and human health. The use of neonicotinoids has become particularly intense in Iowa and neighboring states as a corn and soybean seed treatment. Few studies have been conducted to characterize human exposure to neonicotinoids or the insecticides potential health risks.

Based on the increased intensity and geographic use of the more commonly used neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S., pesticide applicators in Iowa have high potential for exposure from using corn and soybean seeds coated with neonicotinoids (see example of imidacloprid use Figure 1). Although the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) has been collecting information on pesticide usage and estimating exposures since 1993, AHS-based studies assessing neonicotinoid exposure and potential adverse health outcomes have not been performed. In fact, there have been no analytic epidemiologic studies performed nationwide that have assessed neonicotinoid-related adverse health outcomes using individual level exposure data.

The long-term goal of the proposed research is to assess the health risk posed by chronic exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides and their metabolites. In addition, the study will assess exposure risks of other environmental contaminants such as nitrate, arsenic, lead, broad spectrum pesticides and their degradates, perfluorinated alkylated substances, antibiotics and pharmaceuticals, and selected microbes.