Pesticide exposure among Latinx children: Comparison of children in rural, farmworker and urban, non-farmworker communities

Sci Total Environ. 2021 Apr 1:763:144233. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144233. Epub 2020 Dec 29.


Personal pesticide exposure is not well characterized among children in vulnerable, immigrant communities. We used silicone wristbands in 2018-2019 to assess pesticide exposure in 8 year old Latinx boys and girls in rural, farmworker families (n = 73) and urban, non-farmworker families (n = 60) living in North Carolina who were enrolled in the PACE5 Study, a community-based participatory research study. We determined the detection and concentrations (ng/g) of 75 pesticides and pesticide degradation products in the silicone wristbands worn for one week using gas chromatography electron capture detection and employed gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Differences by personal and family characteristics were tested using analysis of variance or Wilcoxon Rank Sum tests when necessary. Pesticide concentrations above the limit of detection were analyzed, and reported as geometric means and 95% confidence intervals (CI). The most frequently detected pesticide classes were organochlorines (85.7%), pyrethroids (65.4%), and organophosphates (59.4%), with the most frequently detected specific pesticides being alpha-chlordane (69.2%), trans-nonachlor (67.7%), gamma-chlordane (66.2%), chlorpyrifos (54.9%), cypermethrin (49.6%), and trans-permethrin (39.1%). More of those children in urban, non-farmworker families had detections of organochlorines (93.3% vs. 79.5, p = 0.0228) and pyrethroids (75.0% vs. 57.5%, p = 0.0351) than did those in rural, farmworker families; more children in rural, farmworker families had detections for organophosphates (71.2% vs. 45.0%, p= 0.0022). Children in urban, non-farmworker families had greater concentrations of alpha-chlordane (geometric mean (GM) 18.98, 95% CI 14.14, 25.47 vs. 10.25, 95% CI 7.49, 14.03; p= 0.0055) and dieldrin (GM 17.38, 95% CI 12.78 23.62 vs. 8.10, 95% CI 5.47, 12.00; p= 0.0034) than did children in rural, farmworker families. These results support the position that pesticides are ubiquitous in the living environment for children in vulnerable, immigrant communities, and argue for greater effort in documenting the widespread nature of pesticide exposure among children, with greater effort to reduce pesticide exposure.

Keywords: Community-based participatory research; Exposure assessment; Farmworkers; Health equity; Personal monitoring; Pesticides.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Farmers
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North Carolina
  • Occupational Exposure* / analysis
  • Pesticides* / analysis


  • Pesticides