Objective: Since very little is known about the health effects that household pesticides have on children, we conducted this survey to identify what pesticides are being used in the home, where they are being used and stored, and what methods are used for their disposal.
Methods: In the spring of 1999 we conducted a survey in a community in the state of Arizona, in the United States of America, on the border with Mexico. To be eligible to participate in the survey, households had to have used a pesticide in the 6 mo prior to the survey and to have at least one child under the age of 10 years. We gathered general information on pesticide usage, storage, and disposal, in addition to specific information about each of the pesticides currently being used and/or stored in the home.
Results: In the 107 households surveyed, we found 148 pesticide products, for a mean of 1.4 per household. Half of the pesticides were stored less than 4 feet (1.22 m) from the ground, at a level a child could reach. Seventy percent of all the pesticides were stored inside the home, with the kitchen being the storage room most often mentioned. The kitchen was also the room where most of the pesticides were used, with 69% of the respondents saying they had used at least one pesticide there.
Conclusions: From our research we conclude that it will be important to continue to investigate all avenues of pesticide exposure in order to fully evaluate childhood exposures. Understanding household pesticide use and developing a model of exposure will help in this process. Profiles of the use, storage, and disposal of products will also guide the development of effective education and poison prevention programs in the community.