Silicone wristbands detect individuals' pesticide exposures in West Africa

R Soc Open Sci. 2016 Aug 17;3(8):160433. doi: 10.1098/rsos.160433. eCollection 2016 Aug.


We detected between 2 and 10 pesticides per person with novel sampling devices worn by 35 participants who were actively engaged in farming in Diender, Senegal. Participants were recruited to wear silicone wristbands for each of two separate periods of up to 5 days. Pesticide exposure profiles were highly individualized with only limited associations with demographic data. Using a 63-pesticide dual-column gas chromatography-electron capture detector (GC-ECD) method, we detected pyrethoid insecticides most frequently, followed by organophosphate pesticides which have been linked to adverse health outcomes. This work provides the first report of individualized exposure profiles among smallholder farmers in West Africa, where logistical and practical constraints have prevented the use of more traditional approaches to exposure assessment in the past. The wristbands and associated analytical method enabled detection of a broad range of agricultural, domestic, legacy and current-use pesticides, including esfenvalerate, cypermethrin, lindane, DDT and chlorpyrifos. Participants reported the use of 13 pesticide active ingredients while wearing wristbands. All six of the pesticides that were both reportedly used and included in the analytical method were detected in at least one wristband. An additional 19 pesticide compounds were detected beyond those that were reported to be in use, highlighting the importance of measuring exposure in addition to collecting surveys and self-reported use records. The wristband method is a candidate for more widespread use in pesticide exposure and health monitoring, and in the development of evidence-based policies for human health protection in an area where food security concerns are likely to intensify agricultural production and pesticide use in the near future.

Keywords: Senegal; agriculture; exposome; exposure; passive sampling device.