What is the Pesticide Users' Health Study?
The Pesticide Users' Health Study (PUHS) was
established by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the
late 1990's, and is now being conducted by the Health and Safety
Laboratory with HSE's support. The aims of the study are to monitor
the long-term health of individuals potentially exposed to low
levels of pesticides on a longer term basis, and to help fill the
gaps in knowledge about the extent and nature of pesticide-related
How did pesticide users become part of the study?
In the 1990's and early 2000's, the National Proficiency Tests
Council (NPTC) issued the recognised Certificates of Competence
required by users of agricultural pesticides under the Control of
Pesticides Regulations 1986. This is now undertaken by City &
From 1994 to 2003, anyone applying for certification was invited to
give their permission for HSE to access information relating to
them for the purpose of medical research into pesticide use. For
those who agreed, NPTC passed their name, contact details and
information about their certification to HSE, and they became
members of the Pesticide Users' Health Study (PUHS). There are
around 65,000 members from across Great Britain.
How did we collect information about the study participants'
From 2004 to 2006, HSE and HSL sent a questionnaire to all
members of the Pesticide Users' Health Study. This questionnaire
looked at users' work with pesticides at the time, and in the past.
It also asked about the types of pesticide used and the time spent
How do we collect information about the study participants'
Around 96% of members of the Pesticide Users' Health Study have
been successfully 'flagged' with NHS central registers. This means
that the study team will be notified whenever a study member dies,
is diagnosed with cancer, or emigrates from or returns to Great
Britain. This information is provided to HSL on a quarterly basis
by the Health
and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which is the
national provider of information, data and IT systems for health
and social care. HSCIC has high standards for data security and
confidentiality, which the Health and Safety Laboratory fully
We also plan to obtain information on hospital admissions for
members of the PUHS. This will allow us to investigate long-term
ill health, such as neurological disease and eye disease. This
information will again be provided by the Health & Social Care
How do we use the study participants' data?
The information collected through the study is only used for
medical research purposes, and to address specific research
questions of interest. The findings are reported in such a way that
no individual can be identified.
Personal information on study participants is only shared with the
Health & Social Care Information Centre in order to link with
NHS information, which the study has specific permission to do.
Other researchers may wish to use the data collected during the
study, but they will not be given any personal information that can
be linked back to individuals.
What work has been completed to date?
A number of reports and publications are freely available:
- HSE Research Reports on cancer incidence (RR956) and
mortality (RR958) among
members of the study
- An article in
Occupational Medicine on mortality and cancer incidence
- Results of the survey of pesticide usage undertaken from 2004
to 2006 has been summarised in HSE Research Report RR957
How is the study funded?
The Pesticide Users' Health Study is funded by the Health and
If you have any questions at all about the research, please
contact the survey team:
Pesticide Users' Health Study
Health and Safety Laboratory
Or via the website Contact Form.
If you are a member of the Pesticide Users'
Health Study, then please remember that you can withdraw from all
or part of the study at any time by contacting us using the e-mail
address given above.