Organic diets significantly lower children's dietary exposure to organophosphorus pesticides

Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Feb;114(2):260-3. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8418.


We used a novel study design to measure dietary organophosphorus pesticide exposure in a group of 23 elementary school-age children through urinary biomonitoring. We substituted most of children's conventional diets with organic food items for 5 consecutive days and collected two spot daily urine samples, first-morning and before-bedtime voids, throughout the 15-day study period. We found that the median urinary concentrations of the specific metabolites for malathion and chlorpyrifos decreased to the nondetect levels immediately after the introduction of organic diets and remained nondetectable until the conventional diets were reintroduced. The median concentrations for other organophosphorus pesticide metabolites were also lower in the organic diet consumption days; however, the detection of those metabolites was not frequent enough to show any statistical significance. In conclusion, we were able to demonstrate that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production. We also concluded that these children were most likely exposed to these organophosphorus pesticides exclusively through their diet. To our knowledge, this is the first study to employ a longitudinal design with a dietary intervention to assess children's exposure to pesticides. It provides new and persuasive evidence of the effectiveness of this intervention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Food, Organic*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / metabolism
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / urine*
  • Pesticides / metabolism
  • Pesticides / urine*


  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Pesticides