Background Flower growers have high potential for exposures to pesticides. Occupational factors, such as tasks performed, the production method (organic or conventional), the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and workplace characteristics influence the intensity of pesticide exposure. Objective To evaluate occupational characteristics affecting urinary concentration of dialkylphosphate (DAP) metabolites of organophosphate pesticides among a group of Mexican floricultural workers. Methods A questionnaire was administered to 117 workers who also provided a first morning urine sample. According to tasks performed and the production methods, pesticide contact was defined as low, medium, or high. PPE use was categorized as acceptable, fairly acceptable, and unacceptable. Urinary concentration of DAP metabolites were determined using gas-liquid chromatography. Association between occupational characteristics and DAP urinary concentrations was assessed by means of linear regression models. Results After adjusting for potential confounders, the workers in the medium and high contact categories had significantly higher DAP concentrations than those in the low contact category (β: 0.3, CI 95%: 0.1-0.5). Greenhouse workers had greater DAP concentrations than outdoors workers (β: 0.3, CI 95%: 0.1-0.5). Compared with non-acceptable use of PPE, acceptable use of PPE was associated with lower DAP concentrations (β: -0.4, CI 95% -0.6 to -0.1). Conclusion Improved safety training is needed for correct PPE usage, especially among flower growers who use conventional pest control methods and who work in a greenhouse environment.
Keywords: Flower growers; dialkyl phosphate metabolites; occupational predictors; organophosphate pesticides.