Urinary pesticide concentrations in French adults with low and high organic food consumption: results from the general population-based NutriNet-Santé

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2019 Apr;29(3):366-378. doi: 10.1038/s41370-018-0062-9. Epub 2018 Sep 5.


An organic diet may reduce dietary exposure to pesticides but findings based on observational data are scant. We aimed to compare urinary pesticide concentrations between "organic" and "conventional" consumers from the NutriNet-Santé study. Organic food consumption was determined using a self-reported food frequency questionnaire. Individuals with a proportion of organic food in the whole diet (in g/d) below 10% were defined as low organic food consumers and those whose proportion was above 50% as high organic food consumers. A propensity score matching procedure was then used to obtain two similar subsets of 150 participants, differing mostly by the organic valence of their diet. Urinary pesticide and metabolite concentrations (organophosphorus, pyrethroid, and azole compounds) were determined by UPLC-MS/MS, standardized with respect to creatinine. The molar sums of total diethylphosphates, dimethylphosphates, and dialkylphosphates were also computed. Differences in distributions across groups were tested using Wilcoxon signed-rank test for matched data. Mean age was 58.5 years and 70% of participants were women. Significantly lower urinary levels of diethylthiophosphate, dimethylthiophosphate, dialkylphosphates, and free 3-phenoxybenzoic acid were observed among organic consumers compared to conventional consumers. Our findings confirm that exposure to certain organophosphate and pyrethroïd pesticides in adults may be lowered by switching from conventional to organic foods. This is particularly of high interest among conventional fruit and vegetable consumers, as their exposure may be the highest.

Keywords: Dietary exposure; Epidemiology; Pesticides.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Dietary Exposure*
  • Female
  • Food, Organic*
  • France
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Pesticides / urine
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Vegetables


  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Pesticides
  • dimethyl phosphate