EPA Science Inventory

EFFECTS OF NUTRIENT AND PESTICIDE LOADING ON AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS AS PERTAINING TO THE EMERGENCE AND TRANSMISSION OF HUMAN DISEASE: THE CASE OF “SWIMMERS’ ITCH”

Description:

It is expected that nutrient additions (nitrogen and phosphorus in the form of fertilizers, sewage effluent, etc.) boost both food quantity and food quality for aquatic snails (the intermediate hosts for cercarial dermatitis). As a result, these grazers will be more competent hosts and produce more parasite cercariae over a longer period of time than snails in non-eutrophic conditions. Endocrine disrupting pesticides are expected to inhibit the immune response of snails to parasite penetration, thus making infection more widespread in the snail population. Both increased nutrients and pesticide application should work synergistically to increase infection in the snail population, thus increasing the risk of infection for the human population.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection:

Enhanced understanding of these interactions will enable more accurate forecasting and management in areas where cercarial dermatitis is emerging.

Purpose/Objective:

I propose a novel and integrative approach to understanding and mitigating one major aspect of disease risk: the poorly understood, but potentially important, links between nutrient-driven eutrophication and pesticide loading, and an increased risk of several vector-borne diseases. Do increases in (1) nutrients and (2) endocrine disrupting pesticides (such as atrazine) supplied to aquatic ecosystems lead to an increase in the risk of humans contracting cercarial dermatitis?

Synopsis:

My research project seeks to determine the effects of water quality on emerging and emergent infectious diseases. In particular, I will be studying the effects of pesticides (such as atrazine) and eutrophication (caused by nitrogen and phosphorus loading via fertilizers, sewage, etc.) on freshwater ecosystems. I will concentrate on disease caused by trematode parasites, which have a complicated life cycle. Trematode parasites require an aquatic snail as first intermediate host.

Record Details:

Record Type: PROJECT (ABSTRACT)
Start Date: 09/01/2010
Completion Date: 08/31/2013
Record Last Revised: 05/21/2014
Record Created: 05/21/2014
Record Released: 05/21/2014
Record ID: 249455

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH