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Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Mar;112(3):382-7.

Agricultural and residential pesticides in wipe samples from farmworker family residences in North Carolina and Virginia.

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  • 1Department of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Piedmont Plaza II, Suite 512, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1063, USA.


Children of farmworkers can be exposed to pesticides through multiple pathways, including agricultural take-home and drift as well as residential applications. Because farmworker families often live in poor-quality housing, the exposure from residential pesticide use may be substantial. We measured eight locally reported agricultural pesticides and 13 pesticides commonly found in U.S. houses in residences of 41 farmworker families with at least one child < 7 years of age in western North Carolina and Virginia. Wipe samples were taken from floor surfaces, toys, and children's hands. We also collected interview data on possible predictors of pesticide presence, including characteristics of the household residents, cleaning practices, and characteristics of the home. All families were Spanish-speaking, primarily from Mexico. Results indicate that six agricultural and 11 residential pesticides were found in the homes, with agricultural, residential, or both present in 95% of homes sampled. In general, residential pesticides were more commonly found. Presence of both types of pesticides on the floor was positively associated with detection on toys or hands. Agricultural pesticide detection was associated with housing adjacent to agricultural fields. Residential pesticide detection was associated with houses judged difficult to clean. Although the likelihood of agricultural pesticide exposure has been considered high for farmworker families, these results indicate that residential pesticide use and exposure in this population merit further study.

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