Insecticide urinary metabolites in nonoccupationally exposed populations

J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2005 Nov-Dec;8(6):485-512. doi: 10.1080/10937400591007284.


The wide use of insecticides in agricultural and residential settings has resulted in environmental contamination, leading to increased concern about exposure of the population and possible chronic effects on health. This review summarizes the studies that have measured urinary metabolites to assess exposure of nonoccupationally exposed population to nonpersistent insecticides, organophosphates (OPs), carbamates, and pyrethroids. Electronic search yielded 36 different studies performed in a small number of countries for the last 20 years, most of them dealing with OP urinary metabolites. Dialkylphosphates, specific metabolites of OPs, and specific metabolites of pyrethroids or carbamates, have been investigated. Results indicate that a wide range of the population, adults as well as children, is exposed to OPs and to a lesser extent to pyrethroids and carbamates. Levels are one to several orders of magnitude lower than those in occupational studies. The contribution of the different sources of insecticide exposure remains uncertain. Food contamination, as well as environmental and residential contamination, appears to influence exposure, especially in the case of children. Residential use of insecticides, having pets, and living near gardens or fields have all been inconstantly related to higher urinary metabolite levels. Occupational exposure of the parents, especially of the agricultural workers, seems to be a predictive factor of higher exposure of their children. More studies investigating every source and pathway of exposure of randomized population samples and in other countries than the United States, in particular in developing countries, could improve our knowledge of factors influencing insecticide exposure of the population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbamates / urine*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / urine*
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / urine*
  • Pyrethrins / urine*


  • Carbamates
  • Insecticides
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Pyrethrins