CLL Support Association
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Causal Link with Pesticide Exposure and CLL

Causal Links from Organophosphates Sprayed in the Home to CLL:

In Germany, they stopped spraying pesticides in domestic homes twenty-five years ago. I have personally experienced the effects of pesticides in the home and I would like my story to be used to further limit the use of these toxic chemicals.

I was exposed to the organophosphate Pentachlorophenol - PCP when we first moved into our house in NW London. PCP is the same family of nasty chemicals as Agent Orange. The house had been sprayed with PCP against woodworm by the previous owners, Brent Council. The PCP had soaked into the carpet underlay and that had turned to dust so as I swept it up, I must have breathed it in. The council were not negligent, they had moved all their tenants out before spraying commenced.

Having previously been well, I then became ill with chronic flu-like symptoms and a phlegmy cough with rhinitis that lasted for 5 years and was unsuccessfully treated as asthma. Then I had a blood test through the doctor and the test found worrying amounts of pentachlorophenol, and also lindane, dieldrin and DDT - these were probably from our previous flat that had been sprayed against cockroaches. I went on an organic diet, came off cows milk, generally cleaned up my act and I got better.

Then, ten years later I started to get flues and viruses again. I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia - CLL. I looked on the net and found many cases in the USA where a causal link with exposure to pentachlorophenol had been proved in court to cause CLL. There were examples of clusters of six workers with CLL in one wood factory where PCP was used. However the CLL wouldn’t show up in the workers until many years after exposure. In one of these cases, a young man in his early twenties had a brief part time job in a sawmill where pentachlorophenol was used. Years later he got CLL when he’d forgotten all about the job and sadly died at 40 years old.

The period of latency from exposure to pentachlorophenol and onset of CLL is 14 – 17 years. We moved into our house exactly 15 years before I was diagnosed with CLL – that’s too close for comfort for me.

It is very interesting, that the hotspots for CLL are in Minnesota, the largest agricultural state in the USA that has massive crop spraying. The other hotspot is New York City where for 20 years, apartments have been regularly sprayed inside with insecticide against cockroach infestation. NYC also has a high population of Central/Eastern Europeans where CLL has a high incidence. In my case I do have genes from that area from my mother but I am sure my CLL also has a strong environmental factor.

The effects of small doses of pesticides/insecticides/fungicides exposure are delayed. Laboratories only test these chemicals in the short term, not for the long-term effects of carrying around a cocktail of small doses. There is evidence that small amounts of Organophosphates have the same lethal effect on our immune systems as large doses.

Now a connection has been found between honeybee colony collapse and Neonicotinoid pesticide residues found in their hives – it affects their immune systems. I feel like the bees, we are the canaries in the mine.

Molly Fletcher 23/10/12

9 Replies

Pesticide exposure... increased risk of study..

Researchers in Italy investigated the role of occupational exposure to specific groups of agrochemicals in the aetiology of lymphoma overall, B cell lymphoma and its most prevalent subtypes.

In 1998–2003, 2348 incident lymphoma cases and 2462 controls were recruited to the EPILYMPH case-control study in six European countries. A detailed occupational history was collected in cases and controls. Job modules were applied for farm work including specific questions on type of crop, farm size, pests being treated, type and schedule of pesticide use. In each study centre, industrial hygienists and occupational experts assessed exposure to specific groups of pesticides and individual compounds with the aid of agronomists. The study calculated the overall risk with lymphoma and the most prevalent lymphoma subtypes with unconditional logistic regression, adjusting for age, gender, education and centre.

Risk of lymphoma overall, and B cell lymphoma was not elevated, however the risk of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) was elevated amongst those ever exposed to inorganic and organic pesticides. CLL risk was highest amongst those ever exposed to organophosphates.

The study results provide limited support to the hypothesis of an increase in risk of specific lymphoma subtypes, like CLL, associated with exposure to pesticides.


Thanks for this info, further evidence linking CLL with pesticides. It would be good to keep the flow of any other relevant information going and collate it somehow.


I had to retire early from my profession after suffering the effects of organophosphate poisoning which in themselves are bad enough but I then developed CLL in 2004 which has needed a lot of treatment recently. I have only just realised that there is probably a link, but don't really know what to do next


hazelview10 Sorry to hear of your health troubles. There is an organization here in the UK PAN - Pesticide Awareness Network that can be of help.

It has been proved in court in the USA that there is definitely a link between exposure to Pentachloraphenol, the organophosphate that was sprayed in our house against woodworm and onset of CLL. However most people dont make the connection, as the time from exposure to PCP and diagnosis of CLL is between 14 to 17 years later.


Molly, can u please site the specific court cases that define a causal link between Pentachlorophenol (PCP)

and CLL? I was occupationally exposed to PCP for 6 years and I'm in the process of building a case against my former employers and possibly against the manufacturers of the chemical my email address is XXXXXXXX

Admin: Email address removed for your safety. This post is open and posting your email address is an invitation to receive spam email and worse. Please use the Private Messaging facility this site provides for this very reason:


I found this as part of the cases proving CLL link with PCP -Pentachlorophenol, hope it's useful:

A study of the health effects of munition packing cases treated with pentachlorophenol handled in Madison County, Kentucky showed pentachlorophenol residues ranging from 16 parts per billion to 551 parts per billion and confirmed six cases of leukemia among former Army depot employees: FIVE CHRONIC LYMPHOCYTICAL LEUKAEMIAS and one chronic myelocytic leukemia. Two additional leukemia cases were identified from the community which might have a connection with the 1968 munition packing cases. One was an individual who emphasized his exposure to pentachlorophenol (PCP) by recalling the munition cases which he purchased from the Army depot during the time the 1968 wood was being sold and used to construct a tobacco curing shed. He spent large amounts of time in the shed until his 1977 diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Dr. Gardner reports that a study of of saw mill workers in southern Oregon reviewed hospital admissions in three counties where there was a three-fold increase in leukemia suggesting that chlorophenol could be a cause. He confirms that Dr. Hardell’s 1981 article in the British Journal of Cancer studying 105 non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas in patients exposed to chlorophenol and toxic acids shows an association between pentachlorophenol and tumors of the B CELL LYMPHASITICAL line.


If you put in:

there are examples of a causal link proved in court in USA between Pentachlorophenol organophosphate used in wood preserving factory and workers developing CLL.


Thank you so much for your time and energy in relaying that info, it is very much appreciated ! I will research it immediately .


I only have anecdotal evidence - my brother worked all his life as a joiner, exposed to woodworm treatments and the insecticides in new building timber, he developed CLL at 50, and it seems to me a possible link. A friend with CLL reacted very strongly when he used a garden insecticide. When I saw this I stopped using insecticides treatments for nits on my young children and I try to avoid insecticides as much as I can, wearing gloves when I apply flea treatments to the dogs and cats for example. We are surrounded by these things, they are very hard to avoid.


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