Use of job-exposure matrices to estimate occupational exposure to pesticides: A review

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Abstract

The health effects of pesticides have been extensively studied in epidemiology, mainly in agricultural populations. However, pesticide exposure assessment remains a key methodological issue for epidemiological studies. Besides self-reported information, expert assessment or metrology, job-exposure matrices still appear to be an interesting tool. We reviewed all existing matrices assessing occupational exposure to pesticides in epidemiological studies and described the exposure parameters they included. We identified two types of matrices, (i) generic ones that are generally used in case-control studies and document broad categories of pesticides in a large range of jobs, and (ii) specific matrices, developed for use in agricultural cohorts, that generally provide exposure metrics at the active ingredient level. The various applications of these matrices in epidemiological studies have proven that they are valuable tools to assess pesticide exposure. Specific matrices are particularly promising for use in agricultural cohorts. However, results obtained with matrices have rarely been compared with those obtained with other tools. In addition, the external validity of the given estimates has not been adequately discussed. Yet, matrices would help in reducing misclassification and in quantifying cumulated exposures, to improve knowledge about the chronic health effects of pesticides.

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