Characterization of residential pesticide use and chemical formulations through self-report and household inventory: the Northern California Childhood Leukemia study

Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Feb;121(2):276-82. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1204926. Epub 2012 Oct 24.


Background: Home and garden pesticide use has been linked to cancer and other health outcomes in numerous epidemiological studies. Exposure has generally been self-reported, so the assessment is potentially limited by recall bias and lack of information on specific chemicals.

Objectives: As part of an integrated assessment of residential pesticide exposure, we identified active ingredients and described patterns of storage and use.

Methods: During a home interview of 500 residentially stable households enrolled in the Northern California Childhood Leukemia Study during 2001-2006, trained interviewers inventoried residential pesticide products and queried participants about their storage and use. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registration numbers, recorded from pesticide product labels, and pesticide chemical codes were matched to public databases to obtain information on active ingredients and chemical class. Poisson regression was used to identify independent predictors of pesticide storage. Analyses were restricted to 259 participating control households.

Results: Ninety-five percent (246 of 259) of the control households stored at least one pesticide product (median, 4). Indicators of higher sociodemographic status predicted more products in storage. We identified the most common characteristics: storage areas (garage, 40%; kitchen, 20%), pests treated (ants, 33%; weeds, 20%), pesticide types (insecticides, 46%; herbicides, 24%), chemical classes (pyrethroids, 77%; botanicals, 50%), active ingredients (pyrethrins, 43%) and synergists (piperonyl butoxide, 42%). Products could contain multiple active ingredients.

Conclusions: Our data on specific active ingredients and patterns of storage and use will inform future etiologic analyses of residential pesticide exposures from self-reported data, particularly among households with young children.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Self Disclosure
  • United States
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency


  • Pesticides