Background: The State of California maintains a comprehensive Pesticide Use Reporting Database (CPUR). The California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) maps all crops in agricultural counties in California about once every 5 years.
Objective: We integrated crop maps with CPUR to more accurately locate where pesticides are applied and evaluated the effects for exposure assessment.
Methods: We mapped 577 residences and used the CPUR and CDWR data to compute two exposure metrics based on putative pesticide use within a 500-m buffer. For the CPUR metric, we assigned pesticide exposure to the residence proportionally for all square-mile Sections that intersected the buffer. For the CDWR metric, we linked CPUR crop-specific pesticide use to crops mapped within the buffer and assigned pesticide exposure. We compared the metrics for six pesticides: simazine, trifluralin (herbicides), dicofol, propargite (insecticides), methyl bromide, and metam sodium (fumigants).
Results: For all six pesticides we found good agreement (88-98%) as to whether the pesticide use was predicted. When we restricted the analysis to residences with reported pesticide use in Sections within 500 m, agreement was greatly reduced (35-58%). The CPUR metric estimates of pesticide use within 500 m were significantly higher than the CDWR metric for all six pesticides.
Conclusions: Our findings may have important implications for exposure classification in epidemiologic studies of agricultural pesticide use using CPUR. There is a need to conduct environmental and biological measurements to ascertain which, if any, of these metrics best represent exposure.