Project: Genotoxic evaluation in Bolivian populations exposed to mixtures of pesticides

In Bolivia, farmers have increased the use of pesticides to enter into a more competitive national as well as international market. There is little or no social protection which together leads to hazardous working conditions for the farmers. Exposure to pesticides thereby constitutes a major health risk for the Bolivian farmers. To investigate the risk of the Bolivian population to induced genotoxic effects as a result of pesticide exposure different biomarkers of exposure and effect will be measured. The use of biomarkers will help us to evaluate potential exposures to pesticides as well as related effects, thus allowing for a more informed risk management and thereby protecting the human health.

Project description

The overall aim of this project is to evaluate the correlation between exposure to pesticide mixtures and genotoxicity for the population in Bolivia. The specific aims are as follows:

  • Specific Aim 1: to characterize the lifestyle factors, handling and exposure to pesticides in a Bolivian population.
  • Specific Aim 2: to investigate the correlation between exposure to pesticides, genetic susceptibility and genotoxic effects in a Bolivian population.
  • Specific Aim 3: to determine possible mixture effects for genotoxic damage of commonly used pesticides in Bolivia

We will use a cross-sectional study design. The study is based on populations in three different communities of Bolivia, Sapahaqui, Comarapa and Omereque. These communities belong to three different ecological niches that span different geographical altitudes and climate zones. The study population, which in total will be around 400, includes both sprayers (farmers and farmworkers) and non-sprayers (teachers, drivers, nurses, etc.) and men and women age 20-64. To evaluate and study the correlation between exposure to pesticides and risk of developing genotoxic effects we will use questionnaire information and blood and urine analysis. Furthermore, underlying mechanisms and possible mixture effects of commonly used pesticides will be investigated employing human cell lines.

The project is a collaboration with Noemi Tirado at the Genetic Institute of Medical Faculty at Mayor de San Andrés University, La Paz Bolivia.

Contact persons


  • SIDA


Cancer and OncologyEpidemiologySustainable developmentToxicology