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Variability in the take-home pathway: Farmworkers and non-farmworkers and their children

Abstract

Organophosphate pesticides (OPs) are related to ill health among adults, including farmworkers who are exposed to OPs as part of their regular work. Children of both farmworkers and non-farmworkers in agricultural communities may also be affected by pesticide exposure. Study groups of 100 farmworkers with a referent child (aged 2–6 years) and 100 non-farmworkers with a referent child were recruited to participate in three data collection periods over the course of a year. At each collection, participants provided three urine samples within 5 days, and homes and vehicles were vacuumed to collect pesticide residues in dust. In thinning and harvest seasons, farmworkers and their children had higher dimethyl urinary metabolites than non-farmworkers and their children. During the non-spray season, the urinary metabolites levels decreased among farmworkers to a level comparable to that of non-farmworkers. Farmworkers consistently had higher pesticide residues in their home and vehicle dust. Differences exist between farmworkers and non-farmworkers in urinary metabolites, and the differences extended throughout the agricultural seasons.OP metabolites are seen at much higher levels for farmworkers and their children than for non-farmworkers and their children during agricultural seasons when OPs are in use. These metabolite levels were significantly higher than the nationwide NHANES IV survey and up to 10-fold higher than other rural agricultural studies.

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Acknowledgements

The research described in this article has been funded in part by the Environmental Protection Agency (Grant R826886) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Grant P01 ES09601), but it has not been subjected to either agency’s required peer and policy review. The article does not necessarily reflect the views of either agency, and no official endorsement should be inferred. We acknowledge the contribution of members of our Community Advisory Board in designing and carrying out this project. We acknowledge the contribution of our field staff in collecting the many samples required for this project.

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Correspondence to Beti Thompson.

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Thompson, B., Griffith, W., Barr, D. et al. Variability in the take-home pathway: Farmworkers and non-farmworkers and their children. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 24, 522–531 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2014.12

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2014.12

Keywords

  • organophosphate pesticides
  • child exposure/health
  • population based studies
  • environmental monitoring

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