MET research team publishes report linking pesticide chemical to birth defects

Dose makes the poison, but timing is everything.

Dr. Robert Lipinski (Department of Comparative Biosciences) and his research group published a report showing that a common chemical can cause birth defects in mice, when the exposure targets a specific and sensitive pathway. The chemical, piperonyl butoxide, acts as an insecticide synergist and is present in hundreds of residential, commercial, and agricultural insecticide formulas including aerosol sprays and shampoos. The birth defect is holoprosencephaly, a malformation of brain and face development.

The study was led by Dr. Joshua Everson, MET graduate (‘18), who is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. Rob, who is an MET alum himself (Bushman Lab, ’08), has also mentored MET students Hannah Chung (MS, ’18) and Kenneth Rivera-Gonzalez (current).

The article itself appears in Environmental Health Perspectives. There is also a write-up by UW Science Reporter Terry Devitt.