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  • Research Article
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Pesticide contamination of workers in vineyards in France


In order to build tools to quantify exposure to pesticides of farmers included into epidemiological studies, we performed a field study in Bordeaux vineyards during the 2001 and 2002 treatment seasons to identify parameters related to external contamination of workers. In total, 37 treatment days were observed in tractor operators corresponding to 65 mixing operations, 71 spraying operations and 26 equipment cleaning. In all, four operators with backpack sprayers and seven re-entry workers were also monitored. We performed both detailed observations of treatment characteristics on the whole day and pesticide measurements of external contamination (dermal and inhalation) for each operation. The median dermal contamination was 40.5 mg of active ingredient per day for tractor operators, 68.8 mg for backpack sprayers and 1.3 mg for vineyard workers. Most of the contamination was observed on the hands (49% and 56.2% for mixing and spraying, respectively). The median contribution of respiratory route in the total contamination was 1.1%. A cleaning operation resulted in a 4.20 mg dermal contamination intermediate between a mixing (2.85 mg) and a spraying operation (6.13 mg). Farm owners experienced higher levels than workers and lower contaminations were observed in larger farms. The contamination increased with the number of spraying phases and when equipment cleaning was performed. Types of equipment influenced significantly the daily contamination, whereas personal protective equipment only resulted in a limited decrease of contamination.

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This study was supported by funding from the Association pour la Recherche contre le Cancer (réseau ARECA) and the Ligue contre le Cancer (Comités de la Gironde et du Calvados) . We thank all the vine workers who participated in PESTEXPO and the agricultural bodies for their interest in the study. We aknowledge Dr Pierre-Gérard Pontal for valuable discussions on methodology and for comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Isabelle Baldi.

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Baldi, I., Lebailly, P., Jean, S. et al. Pesticide contamination of workers in vineyards in France. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 16, 115–124 (2006).

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