Demographic and seasonal influences on human serum pesticide residue levels

J Toxicol Environ Health. 1989;27(4):405-21. doi: 10.1080/15287398909531312.


This study was intended to characterize more fully the distribution of serum concentrations of 16 pesticide residues with regard to key demographic and seasonal variables in a subsample of persons from the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between the ages of 12 and 74 yr old. Blood sera in 2-ml aliquots were analyzed, and the results were confirmed for 5994 persons. Almost all participants (99.5%) had p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE) concentrations greater than or equal to 1 ppb, ranging as high as 378.6 ppb. For the other pesticide residues, only beta-benzene hexachloride (beta-BHC) (quantified in 17.2% of the sera), dieldrin (10.6%), and another DDT-related residue, p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (p,p'-DDT) (35.7%) were found at quantifiable levels in more than 10% of the serum specimens. Of the remaining analytes, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), trans-nonachlor (TNC), and heptachlor epoxide (HE) were found at quantifiable concentrations in 1-10% of the specimens, whereas o,p'-DDT, o,p'-DDE, p,p'-DDD, mirex, alpha-BHC, gamma-BHC, heptachlor, delta-BHC, and aldrin were found in less than 1% of the serum specimens. Results showed that increasing age, residing on a farm, or being a male conferred increased risks of exposure to most of the pesticide residues, independent of all other demographic and seasonal factors. In a pattern less consistent across the different pesticide residues and for fewer of the pesticides, persons who lived below the national poverty level, were nonwhite, resided in the South or West, or were examined in the spring or winter also seemed to have an increased likelihood of having quantifiable serum levels.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Demography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis*
  • Pesticides / blood
  • Seasons
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States


  • Pesticide Residues
  • Pesticides