Comparison of Questionnaire-Based Estimation of Pesticide Residue Intake From Fruits and Vegetables With Urinary Concentrations of Pesticide Biomarkers

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2018 Jan;28(1):31-39. doi: 10.1038/jes.2017.22. Epub 2017 Sep 20.


We developed a pesticide residue burden score (PRBS) based on a food frequency questionnaire and surveillance data on food pesticide residues to characterize dietary exposure over the past year. In the present study, we evaluated the association of the PRBS with urinary concentrations of pesticide biomarkers. Fruit and vegetable (FV) intake was classified as having high (PRBS≥4) or low (PRBS<4) pesticide residues for 90 men from the EARTH study. Two urine samples per man were analyzed for seven biomarkers of organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides, and the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. We used generalized estimating equations to analyze the association of the PRBS with urinary concentrations of pesticide biomarkers. Urinary concentrations of pesticide biomarkers were positively related to high pesticide FV intake but inversely related to low pesticide FV intake. The molar sum of urinary concentrations of pesticide biomarkers was 21% (95% confidence interval (CI): 2%, 44%) higher for each one serving/day increase in high pesticide FV intake, and 10% (95% CI: 1%, 18%) lower for each one serving/day increase in low pesticide FV intake. Furthermore, intake of high pesticide FVs positively related to most individual urinary biomarkers. Our findings support the usefulness of the PRBS approach to characterize dietary exposure to select pesticides.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / urine*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Organophosphates / urine*
  • Pesticide Residues / urine*
  • Pesticides
  • Pyrethrins / urine*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables*


  • Biomarkers
  • Organophosphates
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Pesticides
  • Pyrethrins