Agricultural workers provide the food we eat but often face a unique combination of occupational health hazards. Increasing incidence of unexplained chronic kidney disease in agricultural workers around the world, along with evidence from a recent Ag Health Study (AHS) in the U.S. directly linking kidney disease to exposure to specific pesticides, makes the study of chronic kidney disease in farmworkers an emerging high priority. Further concern exists that heat stress, another common environmental hazard in this sector, especially in the increasingly hot and humid climate of the southeast U.S., may exacerbate the effects of pesticide exposure on kidneys. There is a need for studies on the effects of pesticide exposure and heat stress, individually and combined, on kidney health.
This project will compare the effects of exposure to varying levels of three commonly used pesticides known to harm kidneys in rats over 14 days, compare the effects of hyperthermia and dehydration resembling heat stress endured by farmworkers on rats eight hours a day for 14 days, and compare the effects of each pesticide exposure with and without heat stress on kidneys in rats over 14 days. The project aims to establish a protocol for evaluating heat stress and pesticide exposure in animal studies, establish baseline data on the interaction between heat stress and pesticide exposure, and identify biological pathways affected by heat stress, pesticides, and both combined, and provide insight into molecular pathways leading to kidney damage.