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Residential insecticide usage in northern California homes with young children


Residential insecticide usage and actual application details were collected in a population-based sample of 477 households residing within 22 counties in northern California with at least one child of age 5 years between January 2006 and August 2008. Structured telephone interviews were conducted collecting information on residential use of insecticides, including outdoor sprays, indoor sprays, indoor foggers, applications by professionals, and pet flea/tick control during the previous year. Interviews also covered post-treatment behaviors, which influence post-application exposure levels. Altogether, 80% of the households applied some type of insecticide in the previous year, with half of this population using two or more application methods. Of the households using insecticides, half reported applying insecticides relatively infrequently (<4 times per year), whereas 11–13% reported high frequency of use (>24 times per year). Application frequency was temperature dependent, with significantly more applications during the warmer months from May through October. Spot treatments appeared to be the most prevalent application pattern for sprays. For one out of three of the indoor applications, children played in the treated rooms on the day of the application, and for 40% of the outdoor applications, pets played in the treated area on the day of the application. These findings describing the intensity of insecticide use and accompanying behaviors in families with young children may inform future insecticide exposure modeling efforts, and ultimately, risk assessments.

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The project was supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (Grant# RD-83154001-0). Special thanks to the Project Managers Nyla Logsden-Sackett and Erin Horgan, and all the SUPERB staff and participants.

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Correspondence to Deborah H Bennett.

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Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology website

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Wu, X., Bennett, D., Ritz, B. et al. Residential insecticide usage in northern California homes with young children. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 21, 427–436 (2011).

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  • insecticide
  • residential exposure
  • exposure-related behavior
  • application frequency
  • children
  • pesticide

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