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Examining the association between exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) risk

Steffes, Kristen (2022) Examining the association between exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) risk. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Pesticide exposures may be a modifiable risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but more research is needed. The primary objective of this essay was to provide preliminary results investigating the association between persistent organic pollutant (POPs) concentrations in the blood and ALS risk. The University of Pittsburgh conducted a case-control study between 2018 and 2021 to examine potential risk factors of ALS. A sample of 243 ALS cases from the ATSDR/CDC National ALS Registry were matched to controls based on year of birth, sex, and county. Participants completed surveys from the National ALS Registry assessing demographic characteristics, occupational history, military service, smoking history, residential history, and exposure to pesticides, solvents and heavy metals. Biospecimens were collected from participants and analyzed for concentrations of 29 POPs using isotope dilution high resolution mass spectrometry. This essay included seven POPs with the highest proportion of detectable levels: 4,4’-DDE, hexachlorobenzene, trans-Nonachlor, β-Endosulfan, α-Endosulfan, oxychlordane, and cis-Nonachlor. Single-pollutant conditional logistic regression models were fit to test the association between ALS cases and POPs concentrations in the blood, adjusting for smoking status and education. We found that each unit increase in the concentration of oxychlordane was associated with increased odds of ALS (OR = 1.02; 95% CI, 1.00-1.04; P = 0.0436). Additionally, Spearman rank-order correlations examined the correlation between self-reported exposure to pesticides and POPs concentrations in the blood. Cases were more likely to have significant and moderate correlations between oxychlordane and the personal, uncombined exposures to pesticides whereas controls did not have significant correlations between oxychlordane and these exposures. This essay serves as a first approach to a more in-depth analysis of the University of Pittsburgh study investigating ALS risk factors and provides evidence that exposure to pesticides may be associated with ALS development. The public health significance of this research is to improve health and inform public health recommendations to reduce exposure to these pollutants.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Steffes, Kristensteffesk99@gmail.comkms350
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis advisorTalbott, Evelyneot1@pitt.edueot1UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberBuchanich, Jeaninejeanine@pitt.edujeanineUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberXu, Xiaohuixiaohui.xu@tamu.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date: 17 May 2022
Date Type: Completion
Submission Date: 28 April 2022
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 61
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Organic Persistent Pollutants, POPs, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, pesticides
Date Deposited: 17 May 2022 16:48
Last Modified: 17 May 2024 05:15


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