Patterns of pesticide use and their determinants among wives of farmer pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study

J Occup Environ Med. 2004 Aug;46(8):856-65. doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000135521.15169.3e.


Pesticide exposure among farmers' wives is poorly characterized. Using questionnaire data from a cohort study of licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses, we investigated patterns of pesticide use among farmers' wives (n = 31,173). Wives reported a wide range of pesticide use: 36% never used pesticides during their lifetimes, whereas the heaviest pesticide users (10%) reported lifetime use of 3 or more agricultural pesticides plus commonly used residential pesticides. We identified 5 ordinal pesticide-use categories and studied factors associated with each category through polytomous logistic regression. Engaging in field work and household hygiene practices that could increase exposure were associated with pesticide use, and associations appeared to strengthen with increasing pesticide use category. Farm women reporting the heaviest pesticide use could exacerbate their exposure by engaging in practices that could increase pesticide contact.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Agriculture*
  • Agrochemicals*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Pesticides*
  • Spouses


  • Agrochemicals
  • Pesticides