Organophosphate pesticide exposure and work in pome fruit: evidence for the take-home pesticide pathway

Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Jul;114(7):999-1006. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8620.


Organophosphate (OP) pesticides are commonly used in the United States, and farmworkers are at risk for chronic exposure. Using a sample of 218 farmworkers in 24 communities and labor camps in eastern Washington State, we examined the association between agricultural crop and OP pesticide metabolite concentrations in urine samples of adult farmworkers and their children and OP pesticide residues in house and vehicle dust samples. Commonly reported crops were apples (71.6%), cherries (59.6%), pears (37.2%), grapes (27.1%), hops (22.9%), and peaches (12.4%). Crops were grouped into two main categories: pome fruits (apples and pears) and non-pome fruits. Farmworkers who worked in the pome fruits had significantly higher concentrations of dimethyl pesticide metabolites in their urine and elevated azinphos-methyl concentrations in their homes and vehicles than workers who did not work in these crops. Among pome-fruit workers, those who worked in both apples and pears had higher urinary metabolites concentrations and pesticide residue concentrations in dust than did those who worked in a single pome fruit. Children living in households with pome-fruit workers were found to have higher concentrations of urinary dimethyl metabolites than did children of non-pome-fruit workers. Adult urinary concentrations showed significant correlations with both the vehicle and house-dust azinphos-methyl concentrations, and child urinary concentrations were correlated significantly with adult urinary concentrations and with the house-dust azinphos-methyl concentration. The results provide support for the take-home pathway of pesticide exposure and show an association between measures of pesticide exposure and the number of pome-fruit crops worked by farmworkers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Agriculture
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Fruit
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / analysis*
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Pesticides / analysis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work*


  • Dust
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Pesticides