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 HSE's Laboratory (HSL).
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 ill health.
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. There are around
65,000 participants from across Great Britain.
How did we collect information about the study participants'
From 2004 to 2006, HSE 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 using
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 us on a quarterly basis by
Digital, which is the national provider of information, data
and IT systems for patients, clinicians, commissioners and
researchers. NHS Digital supplies the mortality data on behalf
of the Office for National Statistics and cancer data on behalf of
Public Health England.
We have also received information on hospital admissions for
members of the Pesticide Users' Health Study. This will allow us to
investigate long-term ill health, such as neurological disease and
eye disease. This information was provided by NHS Digital.
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 NHS
Digital 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
Analysis of hospital admissions among study participants is
currently being undertaken.
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 Executive
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.