Temporal association of children's pesticide exposure and agricultural spraying: report of a longitudinal biological monitoring study

Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Aug;110(8):829-33. doi: 10.1289/ehp.02110829.


We measured organophosphorus (OP) pesticide exposures of young children living in an agricultural community over an entire year and evaluated the impact of agricultural spraying on exposure. We also examined the roles of age, sex, parental occupation, and residential proximity to fields. We recruited 44 children (2-5 years old) through a Women, Infants, and Children clinic. We collected urine samples on a biweekly basis over a 21-month period. Each child provided at least 16 urine samples, and most provided 26. We analyzed samples for the dialkylphosphate (DAP) metabolites common to the OP pesticides. DAP concentrations were elevated in months when OP pesticides were sprayed in the region's orchards. The geometric means of dimethyl and diethyl DAPs during spray months were higher than those during nonspray months (p = 0.009 for dimethyl; p = 0.018 for diethyl). Dimethyl DAP geometric means were 0.1 and 0.07 micro mol/L for spray months and nonspray months, respectively (57% difference); diethyl DAP geometric means were 0.49 and 0.35, respectively (40% difference). We also observed differences for sex of the child, with male levels higher than female levels (p = 0.005 for dimethyl; p = 0.046 for diethyl). We observed no differences due to age, parental occupation, or residential proximity to fields. This study reports for the first time the temporal pattern of pesticide exposures over the course of a full year and indicates that pesticide spraying in an agricultural region can increase children's exposure in the absence of parental work contact with pesticides or residential proximity to pesticide-treated farmland.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Insecticides / adverse effects
  • Insecticides / analysis*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Occupations
  • Organothiophosphorus Compounds*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Time Factors


  • Insecticides
  • Organothiophosphorus Compounds