ALS and agriculture

I would like to draw your attention to an article published in La Stampa on 30 Jul 2012, which talks about ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), agriculture, football and, unfortunately, pesticides. I get the impression that this article has passed unobserved; maybe it was swallowed up by the heat of summer 2012, the Olympics, the weather report, the big summer hits and, who knows, maybe by ignorant indifference…

ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a terrible disease for which there is as yet no cure, was noted for the fact that football players are at high risk for it: six times higher than the general population. For some time now it has also been associated with farmers: in recent years, 123 farmers in Piedmont have been struck by the disease.

This information emerges from the analysis of hospital discharge reports that the Turin judge Raffaele Guariniello asked the Region to collect through the Piedmont local health authorities. The results are surprising. In part because, of the 123, twenty were under the age of 30. This corresponds with the results culled by the researchers. Professor Adriano Chiò, director of the regional ALS centre at the Molinette hospital: “The period of highest risk is that between 15 and 30 years old. As concerns agriculture, this doesn’t mean that those who do or have done this work are at higher risk than other groups. What counts is having been in contact, and at length, with the farm environment”.

Guariniello: “These are only working hypotheses; in this case we suspect pesticides and other toxic substances generally used in farming, analogous to chemical treatments for football fields, or at least certain football fields”. The judge asked the Region to extrapolate the data relative to this disease and brain tumours from the hospital discharge reports, subdivided by professional categories. Regarding brain tumours he intends to check the possible correlation with prolonged cellphone use, but on this front the cross-checking of the hospital data with that already in the hands of INPS is still in the development phase.