The death of a groundskeeper for a large arboretum prompted an environmental toxicology lawsuit against the arboretum’s owners in Missouri. The groundskeeper, a sixty-year-old man, had tended to the arboretum’s outlying gardens and landscaping for many years, consistently applying numerous toxic pesticides containing glyphosate. He was asked to use products such as Roundup on a daily basis, but his employer never provided him with protective gear to limit his oral or respiratory exposure. After seeking medical attention a year ago with concerns about fevers, headaches, chills, myalgia, and prolonged sweating, he was diagnosed with blood cell deficiency and an upper respiratory infection; he passed away from brain cancer shortly thereafter. A medical perspective on the role pesticide exposure may have played in the cancer’s onset and groundskeeper’s subsequent death was solicited.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe in brief the extent of your knowledge or work on the role pesticides/herbicides play in cancer risk.
- 2. Have you reviewed any other cases with brain cancer as the clinical outcome, or lectured and published on the correlation between pesticides or herbicides and brain cancer?
Expert Witness Response E-022427
I am the Medical Director of the Occupational Health Service of a premier hospital, and am the Assistant Medical Director for my division of my state’s Poison Control System. I have additionally testified in both Federal and State court, serving as a Qualified Medical Evaluator in the field of Toxicology for the Department of Industrial Relations and Workers’ Compensation.
There are epidemiologic and biostatistics associations between pesticides or herbicides and cancer risk, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified glyphosate as a Group 2A probable carcinogenic. It should be noted, however, that the World Health Organization had a different interpretation of cancer due to glyphosate. I have previously reviewed cases with similar outcomes, and have lectured on the association of pesticides and herbicides with cancer, including brain cancer.
Expert Witness Response E-027933
I have lectured on both the safety and exposure issues in working with pesticides. To be confident that there is plausible connection between the pesticides and the medical conditions, this man’s medical records would need to be extensively reviewed. Brain cancer can be predisposed to a person with certain genetic variations, which would need to be evaluated. Research into the carcinogenicity of pesticide products is tricky and can be contradictory, making proving a causal link between glyphosate exposure and illness not entirely straightforward.