Pyrethroids in house dust from the homes of farm worker families in the MICASA study

Environ Int. 2013 Nov;61:57-63. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2013.09.007. Epub 2013 Oct 3.


Indoor pesticide exposure is a growing concern, particularly for pyrethroids, a commonly used class of pesticides. Pyrethroid concentrations may be especially high in homes of immigrant farm worker families, who often live in close proximity to agricultural fields and are faced with poor housing conditions, potentially causing high pest infestation and pesticide use. We investigate levels of pyrethroids in the house dust of farm worker family homes in a study of mothers and children living in Mendota, CA, within the population-based Mexican Immigration to California: Agricultural Safety and Acculturation (MICASA) Study. We present pesticide use data and levels of pyrethroid pesticides in indoor dust collected in 2009 as measured by questionnaires and a GC/MS analysis of the pyrethroids cis- and trans-permethrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, esfenvalerate and resmethrin in single dust samples collected from 55 households. Cis- and trans-permethrin had the highest detection frequencies at 67%, with median concentrations of 244 and 172ng/g dust, respectively. Cypermethrin was detected in 52% of the homes and had a median concentration of 186ng/g dust. Esfenvalerate, resmethrin and deltamethrin were detected in less than half the samples. We compared the pyrethroid concentrations found in our study to other studies looking at both rural and urban homes and daycares. Lower detection frequencies and/or lower median concentrations of cis- and trans-permethrin and cypermethrin were observed in our study as compared to those studies. However, deltamethrin, esfenvalerate and resmethrin were detected more frequently in the house dust from our study than in the other studies. Because households whose children had higher urinary pyrethroid metabolite levels were more likely to be analyzed in this study, a positive bias in our estimates of household pyrethroid levels may be expected. A positive association was observed with reported outdoor pesticide use and cypermethrin levels found in the indoor dust samples (rs=0.28, p=0.0450). There was also a positive association seen with summed pyrethroid levels in house dust and the results of a pesticide inventory conducted by field staff (rs=0.32, p=0.018), a potentially useful predictor of pesticide exposure in farm worker family homes. Further research is warranted to fully investigate the utility of such a measure.

Keywords: %D; 3-phenoxybenzoic acid; 3PBA; CI; Farm worker; GC/MS; House dust; IS; LOD; MICASA; Mexican Immigration to California: Agricultural Safety and Acculturation; Pesticide inventory; Pyrethroids; SD; SRS; Spearman rank correlation coefficient; confidence intervals; detection frequencies; gas chromatography mass spectrometry; internal standard; limit of detection; r(s); standard deviation; surrogate recovery standard.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Agriculture / statistics & numerical data*
  • California
  • Demography
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticides / analysis*
  • Pyrethrins / analysis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Dust
  • Pesticides
  • Pyrethrins