Cholinesterase activity depression among California agricultural pesticide applicators

Am J Ind Med. 1989;15(2):143-50. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700150203.


Cholinesterase activity measurements for 542 California agricultural pesticide applicators under medical supervision during the first 9 months of 1985 were analyzed. Twenty-six workers, 4.8% of the sample, had cholinesterase values at or below the California threshold values for removal from continued exposure to cholinesterase-inhibiting pesticides (60% of baseline for red blood cell cholinesterase and 50% of baseline for plasma cholinesterase activity). Eight of these 26 workers, 31.5%, had pesticide-related illnesses. Pesticides most frequently associated with cholinesterase depressions exceeding California threshold values included mevinphos (Phosdrin), oxydemeton methyl (Metasystox-R), methomyl (Lannate), and acephate (Orthene); these pesticides included organophosphates in toxicity categories I and II and one carbamate in toxicity category I.

MeSH terms

  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / blood
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / chemically induced
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / enzymology*
  • California
  • Carbamates*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Cholinesterases / blood*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Erythrocytes / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / adverse effects*
  • Organophosphorus Compounds*


  • Carbamates
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Insecticides
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Cholinesterases