Organophosphate pesticide exposure and neurobehavioral performance in agricultural and non-agricultural Hispanic workers

Environ Health Perspect. 2006 May;114(5):691-6. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8182.


Our understanding of the health risks of farmworkers exposed to pesticides in their work and home environments is rapidly increasing, although studies designed to examine the possible neurobehavioral effects of low-level chronic pesticide exposure are limited. We measured dialkyl phosphate urinary metabolite levels, collected environmental dust samples from a subset of homes, obtained information on work practices, and conducted neurobehavioral tests on a sample of farmworkers in Oregon. Significant correlations between urinary methyl metabolite levels and total methyl organophosphate (azinphos-methyl, phosmet, malathion) house dust levels were observed. We found the neurobehavioral performance of Hispanic immigrant farmworkers to be lower than that observed in a nonagricultural Hispanic immigrant population, and within the sample of agricultural workers there was a positive correlation between urinary organophosphate metabolite levels and poorer performance on some neurobehavioral tests. These findings add to an increasing body of evidence of the association between low levels of pesticide exposure and deficits in neurobehavioral performance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Behavior / drug effects*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Oregon
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / toxicity*
  • Pesticides / toxicity*


  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Pesticides