Lifetime organophosphorous insecticide use among private pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2012 Nov;22(6):584-92. doi: 10.1038/jes.2012.79. Epub 2012 Aug 1.


Organophosphorous insecticides (OPs) are the most commonly used insecticides in US agriculture, but little information is available regarding specific OP use by individual farmers. We describe OP use for licensed private pesticide applicators from Iowa and North Carolina in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) using lifetime pesticide use data from 701 randomly selected male participants collected at three time periods. Of 27 OPs studied, 20 were used by >1%. Overall, 95% had ever applied at least one OP. The median number of different OPs used was 4 (maximum=13). Malathion was the most commonly used OP (74%) followed by chlorpyrifos (54%). OP use declined over time. At the first interview (1993-1997), 68% of participants had applied OPs in the past year; by the last interview (2005-2007), only 42% had. Similarly, median annual application days of OPs declined from 13.5 to 6 days. Although OP use was common, the specific OPs used varied by state, time period, and individual. Much of the variability in OP use was associated with the choice of OP, rather than the frequency or duration of application. Information on farmers' OP use enhances our ability to characterize and understand the potential health effects of multiple OP exposures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Humans
  • Insecticides*
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina
  • Organophosphorus Compounds*
  • Private Sector*


  • Insecticides
  • Organophosphorus Compounds