Pesticide exposure among Latinx child farmworkers in North Carolina

Am J Ind Med. 2021 Jul;64(7):602-619. doi: 10.1002/ajim.23258. Epub 2021 May 25.


Background: Although pesticides have adverse effects on child health and development, little research has examined pesticide exposure among child farmworkers. This analysis addresses two specific aims: (1) describes pesticide exposure among Latinx child farmworkers in North Carolina, and (2) delineates factors associated with this pesticide exposure.

Methods: In 2018 (n = 173) and 2019 (n = 156) Latinx child farmworkers completed interviews and wore silicone wristbands for a single day to measure pesticide exposure. Wristbands were analyzed for 70 pesticides.

Results: Most Latinx child farmworkers were exposed to multiple pesticides; the most frequent were pyrethroids (69.9% in 2018, 67.9% in 2019), organochlorines (51.4% in 2018, 55.1% in 2019), and organophosphates (51.4% in 2018, 34.0% in 2019). Children were exposed to a mean of 2.15 pesticide classes in 2018 and 1.91 in 2019, and to a mean of 4.06 pesticides in 2018 and 3.34 in 2019. Younger children (≤15 years) had more detections than older children; children not currently engaged in farm work had more detections than children currently engaged in farm work. Migrant child farmworkers had more detections than nonmigrants. For specific pesticides with at least 20 detections, detections and concentrations were generally greater among children not currently engaged in farm work than children currently engaged.

Conclusions: Children who live in farmworker communities are exposed to a plethora of pesticides. Although further research is needed to document the extent of pesticide exposure and its health consequences, sufficient information is available to inform the policy needed to eliminate this pesticide exposure in agricultural communities.

Keywords: agricultural safety; child labor; environmental justice; immigrant health; minority health; pesticide exposure; vulnerable populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Agriculture
  • Child
  • Farmers
  • Humans
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure* / analysis
  • Pesticides* / analysis


  • Pesticides