Home proximity to flower plantations and higher systolic blood pressure among children

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2018 Sep;221(8):1077-1084. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2018.08.006. Epub 2018 Aug 18.


Background: Pesticide drift from agricultural plantations increases the chemical exposure potential of people living nearby. Some studies have described positive associations between pesticide exposures and blood pressure (BP) in adults, whereas limited evidence in children suggests negative associations. This study characterized the association between home proximity to plantations and BP among children living in a flower-growing county in Ecuador.

Methods: We included 310 4-9-year-old children living in Pedro Moncayo County, Ecuador as part of The ESPINA study. We calculated age, gender and height-specific BP z-scores. Geographic coordinates of homes and flower plantations were collected using GPS receivers and satellite imagery. Exposure-outcome associations were analyzed using linear regression.

Results: The mean home distance to the nearest flower plantation was 449 m (SD: 347) and the median plantation area within 150 m of participants' homes was 989 m2 (25th-75Th percentile: 492-3164) among those with non-zero values. Children living closer to plantations had lower AChE activity. Systolic BP z-score increased with greater residential proximity to plantations (0.24 SD per 1000 m [95% CI: 0.01, 0.47]) and with greater areas of flower plantations within 150 m of homes (0.03 SD per 1000 m2 [0.00, 0.06]), after adjusting for socio-economic, anthropometric and other factors. Further adjustment for acetylcholinesterase and hemoglobin strengthened these associations.

Conclusions: Proximity of homes to flower plantations and greater plantation areas within 150 m from homes were associated with higher systolic BP, independent of cholinesterase activity. This suggests that non-cholinesterase inhibitor pesticide drift from agricultural plantations may be sufficient to induce physiologic changes on children living nearby.

Keywords: Agriculture; Blood pressure; Children; Geospatial; Pesticides; Residential proximity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / blood
  • Agriculture*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ecuador
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Flowers*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Systole / drug effects*


  • Pesticides
  • Acetylcholinesterase