Exposure profiles of pesticides among greenhouse workers: implications for epidemiological studies

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2007 Sep;17(6):501-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.jes.7500544. Epub 2007 Feb 14.


The aim of this study was to assess exposure to pesticides for a longitudinal epidemiological study on adverse reproduction effects among greenhouse workers. Detailed information on pesticide use among greenhouse workers was obtained on a monthly basis through self-administered questionnaires and subsequent workplace surveys. Questionnaires were filled in for a whole year. Dermal exposure rankings were developed for each task using the observational method Dermal Exposure Assessment Method (DREAM). Exposure scores were calculated for each worker for each month during the year, taking into account frequency, duration and exposure intensity for each task. A total number of 116 different active ingredients were used in the population, whereas a mean number of 15 active ingredients were applied per greenhouse. DREAM observations provided insight into the exposure intensity of 12 application techniques and three mixing and loading activities. Relatively high DREAM scores were obtained for scattering, fogging, dusting, and mixing and loading of powders. Observations with DREAM indicated that application with a horizontal ground-boom, motor driven boom, and bulb shower resulted in low dermal exposure. Exposure scores showed substantial variation between workers and over the year. It can be concluded that exposure variation between- and within greenhouses is very large, both in terms of chemical composition and exposure intensity. This may be a significant contributor to the inconsistent results of studies evaluating health effects of pesticide exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Algorithms
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Pesticides / analysis*
  • Skin*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Pesticides