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Characterization of residential pest control products used in inner city communities in New York City


The Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) previously reported widespread residential insecticide use in urban communities in New York City. Research suggests that pyrethroids are replacing organophosphates (OPs) in response to 2000–2001 US EPA pesticide regulations restricting OP use. A systematic assessment of active ingredients used for residential pest control is lacking. We queried a database of pesticide applications reported by licensed applicators between 1999 and 2005 and surveyed pest control products available in 145 stores within 29 zip codes in the CCCEH catchment area including Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. Pyrethroids, pyrethrins, piperonyl butoxide, and hydramethylnon were the most common insecticide active ingredients reported as used by licensed pesticide applicators within the 29 zip codes of the CCCEH catchment area between 1999 and 2005. Use of certain pyrethroids and some non-spray insecticides such as fipronil and boric acid increased significantly by year (logistic regression, OR>1.0, P<0.05), whereas use of OPs, including chlorpyrifos and diazinon decreased significantly by year (logistic regression, OR<1.0, P<0.05). Among pesticide applicators, the most commonly applied active ingredients were formulated as spray applications. With 145 stores in the catchment area, 120 (82.5%) carried at least one insecticide. Spray cans were most common (114/120 stores, 95%); gels were least common (31/120 stores, 25.8%). Among spray formulations, pyrethroid insecticides were the most common pesticide class and permethrin, a pyrethroid, was the most common individual active ingredient. In 2007, one store carried a product containing chlorpyrifos and one store carried a product containing diazinon. This survey suggests that certain pyrethroids and non-spray insecticides replaced OPs for pest control in this area. Chlorpyrifos and diazinon have nearly been eliminated from products marketed for residential pest control.

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analysis of variance


Community Advisory Board


Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health


Department of Environmental Conservation


New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


odds ratio


Pesticide Sales and Use Reporting


United States Environmental Protection Agency


West Harlem Environmental Action


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This study was supported by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grants P50 ES09600, RO1 ES012468, RO1 ES08977, and RO1 ES11158; US Environmental Protection Agency grants R827027 and R82860901; and National Institutes of Health grant TL1 RR024158.

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Correspondence to Megan K Horton.

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Horton, M., Jacobson, J., McKelvey, W. et al. Characterization of residential pest control products used in inner city communities in New York City. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 21, 291–301 (2011).

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  • residential pest control
  • pesticides survey
  • environmental monitoring
  • personal exposure
  • pesticides

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