Background: We measured 34 metabolites of current-use pesticides and other precursor compounds in urine samples collected twice during pregnancy from 538 women living in the Salinas Valley of California, a highly agricultural area (1999-2001). Precursors of these metabolites included fungicides, carbamate, organochlorine, organophosphorus (OP), and pyrethroid insecticides, and triazine and chloroacetanilide herbicides. We also measured ethylenethiourea, a metabolite of the ethylene-bisdithiocarbamate fungicides. Repeat measurements of the compounds presented here have not been reported in pregnant women previously. To understand the impact of the women's regional environment on these findings, we compared metabolite concentrations from the CHAMACOS (Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas) cohort with U.S. national reference data for 342 pregnant women sampled by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2002).
Results: The eight metabolites detected in > 50% of samples [2,4-dichlorophenol (2,4-DCP); 2,5-dichlorophenol (2,5-DCP); 1- and 2-naphthol; ortho-phenylphenol (ORTH); para-nitrophenol (PNP); 2,4,6-trichlorophenol (2,4,6-TCP); and 3,4,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy)] may be related to home or agricultural pesticide use in the Salinas Valley, household products, and other sources of chlorinated phenols. More than 78% of women in this study had detectable levels of at least one of the OP pesticide-specific metabolites that we measured, and > 30% had two or more. The 95th percentile values of six of the most commonly detected (> 50%) compounds were significantly higher among the CHAMACOS women after controlling for age, race, socioeconomic status, and smoking [(2,4-DCP; 2,5-DCP; ORTH; PNP; 2,4,6-TCP; and TCPy); quantile regression p < 0.05].
Conclusions: Findings suggest that the CHAMACOS cohort has an additional burden of precursor pesticide exposure compared with the national sample, possibly from living and/or working in an agricultural area.