A behavioral evaluation of pest control workers with short-term, low-level exposure to the organophosphate diazinon

Am J Ind Med. 1987;12(2):153-72. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700120205.


Neurobehavioral effects of short-term, low-level exposure to diazinon were investigated among 99 pest control workers tested before and after their work shift with a computer-assisted neurobehavioral test battery. Each subject completed a brief neurological screening examination, a symptom questionnaire, and tests of concentration, eye-hand coordination, pattern recognition, visual memory, and finger tapping. The diazinon metabolite diethylthiophosphate (DETP) was measured in pre- and post-shift urine samples collected from 46 diazinon applicators applying granulated diazinon onto residential properties with lawn spreaders, and 56 non-applicators. Post-shift median DETP for applicators and non-applicators was 24 and 3 ppb, respectively. Full shift, whole body exposure to diazinon was quantitated for 19 subjects using personal air monitoring and passive badges. Median diazinon exposure for applicators and non-applicators was 2.1 and 0.03 mg, respectively. Mean duration of pesticide application was 39 days (SD = 12 days) before testing. No adverse DETP-related changes in pre- or post-shift neurobehavioral function were found with multiple linear regression models after adjusting for age, sex, education, and ethanol intake, although Symbol-Digit pairing speed was slower among the applicators as a group. The prevalence of 18 symptoms possibly related to diazinon exposure was not elevated among applicators. The study failed to demonstrate diverse behavioral effects of short-term, low-level diazinon exposure in a pest control program which emphasized personal protective equipment and direct supervision.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cognition Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Coleoptera
  • Diazinon / poisoning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insect Control / methods
  • Insecticides / poisoning*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Organothiophosphates / urine
  • Protective Clothing
  • Psychomotor Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Insecticides
  • Organothiophosphates
  • O,O-dimethyl phosphorothionate
  • O,O-diethyl phosphorothionate
  • Diazinon