Seasonal and occupational trends of five organophosphate pesticides in house dust

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Abstract

Since 1998, the University of Washington's Center for Child Environmental Health Risks Research has followed a community-based participatory research strategy in the Lower Yakima Valley of Washington State to assess pesticide exposure among families of Hispanic farmworkers. As a part of this longitudinal study, house dust samples were collected from both farmworker and non-farmworker households, across three agricultural seasons (thinning, harvest and non-spray). The household dust samples were analyzed for five organophosphate pesticides: azinphos-methyl, phosmet, malathion, diazinon, and chlorpyrifos. Organophosphate pesticide levels in house dust were generally reflective of annual use rates and varied by occupational status and agricultural season. Overall, organophosphate pesticide concentrations were higher in the thinning and harvest seasons than in the non-spray season. Azinphos-methyl was found in the highest concentrations across all seasons and occupations. Farmworker house dust had between 5- and 9-fold higher concentrations of azinphos-methyl than non-farmworker house dust. Phosmet was found in 5-7-fold higher concentrations in farmworker house dust relative to non-farmworker house dust. Malathion and chlorpyriphos concentrations in farmworker house dust ranged between 1.8- and 9.8-fold higher than non-farmworker house dust. Diazinon showed a defined seasonal pattern that peaked in the harvest season and did not significantly differ between farmworker and non-farmworker house dust. The observed occupational differences in four out of five of the pesticide residues measured provides evidence supporting an occupational take home pathway, in which workers may bring pesticides home on their skin or clothing. Further, these results demonstrate the ability of dust samples to inform the episodic nature of organophosphate pesticide exposures and the need to collect multiple samples for complete characterization of exposure potential.

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