Socio-demographic characteristics of UK families using pesticides and weed-killers

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Pesticides are widely used in the home and garden to kill insects, weeds and other unwanted pests. There is mounting evidence that this usage may also have health consequences particularly on children. Using the ALSPAC cohort of 13,391 families with self-reported usage data up to age 4 years of the study child, the main users of pesticides appeared to be older, Caucasian, better educated, have higher incomes and more likely to own their home or to belong to non-manual social classes compared to less frequent users. There was some suggestion that different factors may affect weed-killer compared to other pesticide use. In particular, income appeared unrelated to other pesticide use. This may reflect different attitudes to indoor compared to garden applications. Alternatively, it may reflect whether the main user was the mother or the partner. Some authorities are currently encouraging domestic users to consider other non-chemical means of pest control before using pesticides. These results may help in targeting particular groups if further reductions in pesticide usage are desired. They have also helped in identifying the important confounders for adjusting future analyses on the potential health consequences of pesticides and weed-killers.

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