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An article published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) journal by former UNC Kidney Center trainee Jill Lebov, PhD, was recently discussed in an editorial on the publication’s web site.

Dr. Lebov’s article, “Pesticide use and risk of end-stage renal disease among licensed pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study,” studied commonly used pesticides applied by farmers and commercial pesticide applicators and the rates of End Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD) among that population.

Dr. Lebov and her research team found that long-term exposure to certain pesticides could increase the risk of ESKD.

Her research was conducted as part of her dissertation work, which she completed in 2014 under the guidance of Susan Hogan, PhD, MPH.

“I am tremendously grateful to my co-authorship team, including Susan Hogan, for facilitating and guiding this work,” she said.

The OEM editorial offered some critiques of the research; one being that the publication would be more helpful if the causes of ESKD were defined.

Lebov explained that the data collected on individuals captured by the Agricultural Heath Study population does not currently have enough cases to break down the cause of ESKD, but that it might be able to so in the future.

“As additional ESKD cases accrue within the Agricultural Health Study participant population over time, we will have more statistical power to stratify the data by ‘primary cause of renal failure’ (from the USRDS) or by co-morbid condition (i.e. diabetes diagnosis reported at enrollment),” said Lebov.

Lebov completed a related study that will be published soon that looks at pesticide exposure and end-stage kidney disease among the spouses of the pesticide applicators.

She said that while no future related studies are currently planned, she is interested in conducting additional research including “conducting research to identify whether certain sub-types of ESKD are more strongly associated with pesticide exposure, to evaluate associations between pesticide exposure and earlier stages of chronic kidney disease, and to evaluate associations between pesticide exposure among farm-workers (as opposed to farm-owners).”

“It would also be interesting to study the association among people who apply pesticides in a non-farming environment,” said Lebov.

Dr. Lebov recently became employed as a Global Health Epidemiologist at RTI.