Environmental and biological monitoring for the identification of main exposure determinants in vineyard mancozeb applicators
Grapevine is a vulnerable crop to several fungal diseases often requiring the use of ethylenebisdithiocarbamate (EBDC) fungicides, such as mancozeb. This fungicide has been reported to have goitrogenic, endocrine disrupting, and possibly immunotoxic effects. The aim of this study was to assess workers' exposure in two scenarios of mancozeb application and analyse the main determinants of exposure in order to better understand their mechanism of influence. Environmental monitoring was performed using a modified Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) “patch” methodology and by hand-wash collection, while mancozeb's metabolite, ethylenethiourea (ETU), was measured in 24-h preexposure and postexposure urine samples. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was used for determination of mancozeb and ETU in different kinds of samples. Closed tractor use resulted in 40 times lower potential exposure compared with open tractor. Coveralls reduced skin exposure 4 and 10 times in case of open and closed tractors, respectively. Gloves used during application resulted in 10 times lower hand exposure in open but increased exposure in closed tractors. This study has demonstrated that exposure to mancozeb is low if safe occupational hygiene procedures are adopted. ETU is confirmed as suitable biological marker of occupational exposure to mancozeb, but the absence of biological exposure limits significantly reduces the possibility to interpret biological monitoring results in occupationally exposed workers.