Review of take-home pesticide exposure pathway in children living in agricultural areas

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Children of farmworkers may be chronically exposed to pesticides via the take-home exposure pathway.


The goal of this review was to analyze scientific literature evaluating the role of the take-home pesticide exposure pathway in children of agricultural workers.


A systematic review was undertaken and inclusion criteria were applied to identify original articles of interest. Of the 30 articles included in this review, some belonged to the same studies, resulting in a total of 23 studies. Eight studies assessed environmental samples, nine collected biological samples, and the remaining six analyzed both. Eleven studies compared pesticide levels between farm and non-farm families.


There is convincing evidence that children of farmworkers are exposed to pesticides at higher levels than “non-agricultural” children, even when residing in the same agricultural communities. These levels were shown to depend on the season, occupation, number of farmworkers per home, and type of crops. Other factors such as age, gender and, sex seem to also influence this pathway. Some studies have shown that pesticides used solely in agriculture are found only in households of farmworkers spraying these pesticides. Moreover, intervention studies have shown that behaviors among farmworkers can significantly lower exposure of people living in the same households as farmworkers.

Discussion and conclusion:

The evidence presented here raises concerns regarding health effects associated with exposure to pesticides in children living in agricultural communities, and indicates that strategies should be developed to reduce exposures in these populations.

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