Indigenous children living nearby plantations with chlorpyrifos-treated bags have elevated 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy) urinary concentrations

Environ Res. 2012 Aug:117:17-26. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.04.006. Epub 2012 Jun 28.


Background: The US Environmental Protection Agency voluntary phased-out residential use of chlorpyrifos in 2001. In contrast, in Costa Rica, chlorpyrifos-treated bags are increasingly used to protect banana and plantain fruits from insects and to fulfill product standards, even in populated areas.

Objectives: To evaluate children's exposure to chlorpyrifos in villages situated nearby banana plantations and plantain farms in Costa Rica.

Methods: The study targeted two villages with use of chlorpyrifos-treated bags in nearby banana plantations and plantain farms and one village with mainly organic production. For 140 children from these villages, mostly indigenous Ngäbe and Bribri, parent-interviews and urine samples (n=207) were obtained. Urinary 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy) levels were measured as a biomarker for chlorpyrifos exposure. In the banana and plantain village also environmental contamination to chlorpyrifos was explored.

Results: Children from the banana and plantain villages had statistically significant higher urinary TCPy concentrations than children from the referent village; 2.6 and 2.2 versus 1.3μg/g creatinine, respectively. Chlorpyrifos was detected in 30% of the environmental samples as well as in 92% of the hand/foot wash samples. For more than half of the children their estimated intake exceeded the US EPA chronic population adjusted dose. For some, the acute population adjusted dose and the chronic reference dose were also exceeded.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that children living nearby plantations with chlorpyrifos-treated bags are exposed to chlorpyrifos levels that may affect their health. Interventions to reduce chlorpyrifos exposure are likely to improve children's health and environment in banana and plantain growing regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Biomarkers / urine*
  • Child
  • Chlorpyrifos / analysis*
  • Costa Rica
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / analysis*
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Musa
  • Pyridones / urine*
  • Regression Analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Insecticides
  • Pyridones
  • 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol
  • Chlorpyrifos