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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 179691, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/179691
Research Article

Major Pesticides Are More Toxic to Human Cells Than Their Declared Active Principles

1University of Caen, Institute of Biology, CRIIGEN and Network on Risks, Quality and Sustainable Environment MRSH-CNRS, Esplanade de la Paix, 14032 Caen Cedex, France
2CRIIGEN, 40 rue Monceau, 75008 Paris, France

Received 28 October 2013; Accepted 11 December 2013; Published 26 February 2014

Academic Editor: Bruno C. Cavalcanti

Copyright © 2014 Robin Mesnage et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle, which is usually tested alone. We tested the toxicity of 9 pesticides, comparing active principles and their formulations, on three human cell lines (HepG2, HEK293, and JEG3). Glyphosate, isoproturon, fluroxypyr, pirimicarb, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, tebuconazole, epoxiconazole, and prochloraz constitute, respectively, the active principles of 3 major herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides. We measured mitochondrial activities, membrane degradations, and caspases 3/7 activities. Fungicides were the most toxic from concentrations 300–600 times lower than agricultural dilutions, followed by herbicides and then insecticides, with very similar profiles in all cell types. Despite its relatively benign reputation, Roundup was among the most toxic herbicides and insecticides tested. Most importantly, 8 formulations out of 9 were up to one thousand times more toxic than their active principles. Our results challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake for pesticides because this norm is calculated from the toxicity of the active principle alone. Chronic tests on pesticides may not reflect relevant environmental exposures if only one ingredient of these mixtures is tested alone.