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Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Mar;112(3):321-6.

Glyphosate biomonitoring for farmers and their families: results from the Farm Family Exposure Study.

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  • 1Epidemiology, Monsanto Company, mail stop A2NE, 800 North Lindbergh Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63167, USA.


Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup agricultural herbicides and other herbicide formulations that are widely used for agricultural, forestry, and residential weed control. As part of the Farm Family Exposure Study, we evaluated urinary glyphosate concentrations for 48 farmers, their spouses, and their 79 children (4-18 years of age). We evaluated 24-hr composite urine samples for each family member the day before, the day of, and for 3 days after a glyphosate application. Sixty percent of farmers had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine on the day of application. The geometric mean (GM) concentration was 3 ppb, the maximum value was 233 ppb, and the highest estimated systemic dose was 0.004 mg/kg. Farmers who did not use rubber gloves had higher GM urinary concentrations than did other farmers (10 ppb vs. 2.0 ppb). For spouses, 4% had detectable levels in their urine on the day of application. Their maximum value was 3 ppb. For children, 12% had detectable glyphosate in their urine on the day of application, with a maximum concentration of 29 ppb. All but one of the children with detectable concentrations had helped with the application or were present during herbicide mixing, loading, or application. None of the systemic doses estimated in this study approached the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reference dose for glyphosate of 2 mg/kg/day. Nonetheless, it is advisable to minimize exposure to pesticides, and this study did identify specific practices that could be modified to reduce the potential for exposure.

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