Residential proximity to agricultural fumigant use and respiratory health in 7-year old children

Environ Res. 2018 Jul;164:93-99. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.02.022. Epub 2018 Feb 23.


Objectives: To examine the relationship between residential proximity to agricultural fumigant use and respiratory symptoms and lung function in 7-year old children.

Methods: Participants were 294 children living in the agricultural Salinas Valley, California and enrolled in the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children Of Salinas (CHAMACOS) study. We obtained information on respiratory symptoms and asthma medication use from maternal questionnaires and children performed spirometry to determine the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), and forced expiratory flow 25-75% (FEF25-75) at 7-years of age. We estimated agricultural fumigant use within 3, 5 and 8 km of residences during pregnancy and from birth to age 7 using California's Pesticide Use Report data. We evaluated the association between prenatal and postnatal residential proximity to agricultural use of methyl bromide, chloropicrin, metam sodium and 1,3-dichloropropene with respiratory symptoms and use of asthma medication with logistic regression models and continuous lung function measurements with linear regression models adjusted for confounders.

Results: There were no significant associations between residential proximity to use of fumigants and respiratory symptoms or use of asthma medication. We did not observe any adverse relationships between residential proximity to fumigant use and lung function measurements. Unexpectedly, we observed suggestive evidence of improved FEV1 and FEF25-75 with higher use of methyl bromide and chloropicrin during the prenatal period. For example, for each 10-fold increase in methyl bromide use during the prenatal development period we observed higher FEV1 (β = 0.06 L/s; 95% CI: 0.00, 0.12) and higher FEF25-75 (β = 0.15 L/s; 95% CI: 0.03, 0.27). Maternal report of child allergies (runny nose without a cold during the previous year) modified the relationship between FEV1 and prenatal proximity to methyl bromide use (p = .07) and we only observed higher FEV1 among children without allergies (β = 0.08 L/s; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.14 for a 10-fold increase in methyl bromide use during the prenatal period).

Conclusions: Residential proximity to agricultural fumigant use during pregnancy and childhood did not adversely affect respiratory health in the children through 7 years of age. These findings should be explored in larger studies.

Keywords: Child; Fumigants; Lung function; Pesticides; Respiratory symptoms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • California
  • Child
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pesticides* / adverse effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Vital Capacity


  • Pesticides