Exposure to phenoxyacetic acid herbicides and predictors of exposure among spouses of farmers

Ann Agric Environ Med. 2012;19(1):51-6.


The purpose of the study was to assess the environmental exposure to 2 commonly used pesticides: 2-methyl-4- chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) among spouses of farmers, not directly involved in the process of spraying. Exposure to 63 sprayings 24 women in households from the rural area of the Łódż Voivodeship in Poland was assessed. The women were asked to collect 3 biological urine samples: in the morning before spraying (sample A), in the evening after spraying (sample B), and on the morning of the next day (sample C). The determination of pesticides in urine was performed by high performance liquid chromatography, coupled with tandem mass spectrometry and negative electrospray (LC-MS/MS-ESI-). In the case of both active ingredient, the number of urine samples with the level of pesticides above limit of detection (LOD) increased from 30% in samples A to 45% in samples B and C. The average levels of herbicides increased from sample A (2.8 ng/g creatinine) to sample B (6.0 ng/g creatinine). The mean value of the C sample was 4.0 ng/g creatinine. Similar results were obtained when the average was calculated for all measurements, including those below LOD. The outdoor activity of the women during spraying was statistically significant (p=0.023), a predictor of exposure in multivariate analyses. The presented study indicates that farmers' spouses might be exposed to pesticides, even if they do not take part in the spraying.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid / toxicity
  • 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid / urine*
  • 2-Methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic Acid / toxicity
  • 2-Methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic Acid / urine*
  • Adult
  • Agriculture*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Female
  • Herbicides / toxicity
  • Herbicides / urine*
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Poland
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Spouses*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Time Factors


  • Herbicides
  • 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid
  • 2-Methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic Acid