UNAIR lecturer reveals carbofuran residues trigger brain cell death

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Illustration by Feri Fenoria

UNAIR NEWS – Carbofuran is one of the chemicals contained in plant pest drugs such as pesticides and insecticides. Pesticides are often used to protect plants from pests or animals that can inhibit plant growth. The use of pesticides on plants will leave carbofuran residues on the plants. If the plants exposed to carbofuran are consumed by humans, they will cause a negative impact on the body, especially the brain.

UNAIR Faculty of Veterinary Medicine lecturer and professor of embryology biotechnology, Prof. Dr. Widjiati, M.Si., drh explained the impact of carbofuran residues on children’s brain development. The findings from her research showed that the carbofuran residues can trigger brain cell death. Carbofuran can also cause fetal defect for pregnant women.

“Carbofuran is actually a toxic material, a dangerous material because it is teratogenic. Teratogens that enter the body of a pregnant woman, penetrate the placental membrane and interfere with the process of organ formation, and cause defects (in the fetus, ed),” explained Prof.Widjiati.

“If carbofuran residues on the food then consumed by pregnant women, teratogenic agent will cause teratology or disability,” she continued.

In her research, Prof. Widjiati also included several previous research results related to the impact of carbofuran on the human body. There are several cases of babies born with abnormalities, such as decreased reflexes and motor skills, abnormalities in the development of brain function, such as degeneration in the ability to memorize and concentrate.

“In the animals tested, carbofuran contamination caused oxidative stress and weakened motor, memory and cognitive functions. Like organophosphates, carbofuran induction produces significant oxidative damage to the cerebral cortex, cerebellum and brain, ” she said

Apart from pregnant women, carbofuran is also dangerous during the lactation period. During the lactation period, mothers who are contaminated with carbofuran breastfeed their children, then the child will also be exposed to carbofuran. The carbofuran residue can progressively affect a child’s brain development.

“If a child’s brain development is affected, his intelligence will be disrupted. The number of neurons can go down, the number of brain cells can be reduced, or also disrupt the cytokines in the brain. If many brain cells die, there will be memory loss, ” she said.

Therefore, Prof. Widjiati appealed to always wash vegetables and fruit before consumption as carbofuran is soluble in water. The proper washing for fruits and vegetables can eliminate or reduce carbofuran levels in the fruit or plant.

“Carbofuran attached to food can be dissolved by washing or soaking in water. Wash two or three times.At the very least, the process of washing or soaking will reduce the concentration (carbofuran, ed) attached to fruits and vegetables, ” she explained. (*)

Author: Zanna Afia 

Editor: Nuri Hermawan


Widjiati, Epy Muhammad Luqman, & Lita Rakhma Yustinasari. 2018. Brain Cells Death on Infant Mice ( Mus musculus ) Caused by Carbofuran Exposure During the Lactation Period. Kafkas Univ Vet Fak Derg. Vol 24 (6): p. 845-852.



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