Urinary and hand wipe pesticide levels among farmers and nonfarmers in Iowa

J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 2005 Nov;15(6):500-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.jea.7500428.


In the spring and summer of 2001, as part of a larger study investigating farm family pesticide exposure and home contamination in Iowa, urine and hand wipe samples were collected from 24 male farmers and 23 male nonfarmer controls. On two occasions approximately 1 month apart, one hand wipe sample and an evening and morning urine sample were collected from each participant. The samples were analyzed for the parent compound or metabolites of six commonly used agricultural pesticides: alachlor, atrazine, acetochlor, metolachlor, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and chlorpyrifos. For atrazine, acetochlor, metolachlor and 2,4-D, farmers who reported applying the pesticide had significantly higher urinary metabolite levels than nonfarmers, farmers who did not apply the pesticide, and farmers who had the pesticide commercially applied (P-value <0.05). Generally, there were no differences in urinary pesticide metabolite levels between nonfarmers, farmers who did not apply the pesticide, and farmers who had the pesticide commercially applied. Among farmers who reported applying 2,4-D themselves, time since application, amount of pesticide applied, and the number of acres to which the pesticide was applied were marginally associated with 2,4-D urine levels. Among farmers who reported applying atrazine themselves, time since application and farm size were marginally associated with atrazine mercapturate urine levels. Farmers who reported using a closed cab to apply these pesticides had higher urinary pesticide metabolite levels, although the difference was not statistically significant. Farmers who reported using closed cabs tended to use more pesticides. The majority of the hand wipe samples were nondetectable. However, detection of atrazine in the hand wipes was significantly associated with urinary levels of atrazine above the median (P-value <0.01).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Hand*
  • Humans
  • Iowa
  • Pesticides / analysis*
  • Pesticides / urine*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Pesticides