Common Insecticide Malathion Linked to Chronic Kidney Disease

October 19, 2021 | Exposure to the insecticide malathion increases the risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. According to study coauthor Nicholas Osborne, PhD, CKD is on the rise in developing countries in Southeast Asia and Central America, and “[n]early one in 10 people in high income countries show signs of CKD, which is permanent kidney damage and loss of renal function.” Although CKD risk increases with age, and is associated with other health factors like smoking, heart disease, and diabetes, cases without clear cause are increasingly common, indicating that environmental factors are likely playing a role. “When malathion was up for [EPA] reregistration, when the heads of the various divisions who were looking at health effects were sitting around the table and planning to address the issue, the science adviser poked his head in the door and said, ‘This is a big-ticket pesticide, and we don’t want to have any problems,’” Bill Hirzy, PhD a former EPA official told The Intercept (in its piece, “The Department of Yes: How Pesticide Companies Corrupted the EPA and Poisoned America,” June 2021). Despite strong links between malathion and a range of different cancers, EPA designated the chemical as having “suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity,” not the stronger “likely carcinogen” initially proposed by EPA staff. [Wan, En-Tzu et al. Association of Pesticides and Kidney Function among Adults in the US Population 2001–2010. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 18(19):10249, 2021.]