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Pesticide loadings of select organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides in urban public housing


We investigated the magnitude and distribution of pyrethroid and organophosphate pesticide loadings within public housing dwellings in Boston, Massachusetts and compared the results using various sampling methods. We collected dust matrices from living room and kitchen in 42 apartments and analyzed for eleven pyrethoids (e.g., permethrin and cyfluthrin) and two organophosphates (chlorpyrifos and diazinon) in house dust using GC/MS. Agreement between sampling methods were evaluated using Spearman correlations and Kappa statistics. Permethrin and chlorpyrifos were detected in kitchen floor wipes in all homes, followed in frequency of detects by diazinon (98%), cypermethrin (90%) and cyfluthrin (71%). At least six pesticides were detected in kitchen floor wipes in the majority of the homes (range 3–8). Positive and statistically significant correlations among dust matrices were observed between kitchen floor wipes and living room vacuum dust, including for diazinon (r=0.62) and cyfluthrin (r=0.69). Detection of several pesticides including banned or restricted use products in some public housing units, underscore the need for alternative pest management strategies that embrace the safe and judicious use of pest control products.

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Funding was provided by US Department of Housing and Urban Development (grant# MALHH0077-00), W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Boston Foundation and Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust Melvin W. First Scholarship and Akira Yamaguchi Endowment. Special thanks to the families who participated in the study, as well as the community partners for their cooperation and commitment to the success of this project.

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Correspondence to Rhona Julien.

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Julien, R., Adamkiewicz, G., Levy, J. et al. Pesticide loadings of select organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides in urban public housing. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 18, 167–174 (2008).

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  • chlorpyrifos
  • house dust
  • pesticides
  • public housing
  • pyrethoids
  • urban

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