Exposure to heavy metals due to pesticide use by vineyard farmers

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2015 Oct;88(7):875-80. doi: 10.1007/s00420-014-1010-1. Epub 2014 Dec 31.


Objectives: To statistically analyze serum heavy metal levels in biological samples obtained from vineyard workers from southern Brazil and check for heavy metal exposure due to pesticide use.

Methods: Serum samples were obtained from 54 farmers and 108 healthy unexposed individuals. Samples from the same farmers were obtained at three different time points over a 1-year period. Levels of lead, arsenic, nickel, zinc, manganese and copper were determined for each sample using dynamic reaction cell inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (DRC-ICP-MS). All results were statistically analyzed using the nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis test (followed by Dunn's post hoc test).

Results: Results showed that serum heavy metal levels in farmers were twofold to fourfold higher than in controls. This difference was found for all heavy metals tested and was significant (p < 0.05). Serum metal levels among the farmers also correlated with the frequency of use of pesticides at a specific time of year, which varied according to seasonal conditions influencing the need for pesticide application.

Conclusions: It can be concluded that in the vineyard region assessed, farmers were more susceptible to heavy metal exposure due to pesticide use.

Keywords: Heavy metals; Occupational exposure; Pesticides; Viticulture.

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / blood
  • Brazil
  • Copper / blood
  • Crop Production*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Farmers
  • Humans
  • Lead / blood
  • Manganese / blood
  • Metals, Heavy / blood*
  • Nickel / blood
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Seasons
  • Vitis
  • Zinc / blood


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Pesticides
  • Lead
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Nickel
  • Zinc
  • Arsenic