REVIEW PAPER - Environmental chemical risk factors of breast cancer in Nigeria IV: Pesticides

Yetunde M. Olumide, Olusola O. Ayanlowo, Ayesha O. Akinkugbe, Erereoghor Otrofanowei


Pesticides are widely used to protect pests in agricultural production and in homes. Women, like men, are heavily involved in Nigerian Agriculture. Since pesticides are essentially poison meant to kill or ward off unwanted living organisms, it is not surprising that they could produce adverse health impacts in people. The pesticides identified as potential breast cancer risk factors discussed in this study are DDT, Lindane, Formaldehyde, Naphthalene/ Mothballs, 2,2-Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate/Aluminium phosphate, Calcium carbide and Diphenylamine. DDT continues to be used against vectors of malaria parasites. Lindane is used by agricultural workers, sprayed in homes by pesticide applicators, used for treating head lice or scabies as shampoos and lotions, and transferred to household members by clothing of workers who are occupationally exposed to Lindane. Formaldehyde is largely released into the air by cosmetics/nail polish, detergents, household furniture, from control of fish parasites and preservation of frozen fish and poultry. The main source of naphthalene is from mothballs sometimes used when storing clothing against moths like Tineola bisselliella. Mothballs are also used as a recreational drug – “Bagging” (sniffing mothballs fumes) particularly among adolescent girls. Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate/Aluminium phosphate are used to protect beans from weevils. Calcium carbide is used as a ripening agent, and Dipheylamine is used as a coating agent on fruit and vegetables to preserve moisture. These chemicals are among the pesticides banned/restricted under the auspices of UNEP but continued to be used in Nigeria because they are cheap. Recommendations are proffered on how to rid pesticides from food.


Breast cancer; Organochlorine pesticides, Formaldehyde, Nigeria

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