Estimating maternal and prenatal exposure to glyphosate in the community setting

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2012 Nov;215(6):570-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2011.12.002. Epub 2012 Jan 18.


Glyphosate is a herbicide in common use, in both agricultural and residential settings. Controlled residue studies show that glyphosate persists in food crops, allowing for the potential of a large number of people to be exposed. Glyphosate is generally considered safe however there are a number of studies suggesting formulations or additives that may have adverse health effects. To assess the degree of exposure of pregnant women, this study measured glyphosate in composite food samples and estimated exposure based on food frequency questionnaire. 43 pregnant women were recruited and completed a self administered questionnaire with a food frequency component and provided a composite food sample. Twenty food samples were analysed with very low glyphosate concentrations (mean 0.08 mg/kg, range 0.002-0.5 mg/kg) with residues detected in more than 75% of the samples. Maternal dietary exposure was very low (0.001 mg/kg bw/day) and was considerably lower than the predicted National Estimated Daily Intake of glyphosate (0.02 mg/kg bw/day). The estimated exposure based on measured glyphosate in composite food samples corresponded to 0.4% of the acceptable daily intake for glyphosate, and the predicted concentration from dietary information was 4% which is comparable to the National Estimated Daily Intake of 5.5% of the Acceptable Daily Intake of glyphosate. Prenatal exposures were estimated to be significantly lower. While residues of glyphosate are present in food, this study demonstrates that exposure concentrations are low and confirms the current models used to estimate glyphosate exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Food Analysis
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glycine / analysis
  • Herbicides / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Herbicides
  • glyphosate
  • Glycine