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Pyrethroid illnesses in California, 1996-2002.

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California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Worker Health and Safety Branch, Sacramento, CA 95812-4015, USA.


This survey summarizes California's recent experience with illnesses related to pyrethroid exposures and augments the data available on pyrethroid inhalation exposure and residue dissipation. We reviewed California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program (PISP) data and DPR Pesticide Use Reporting (PUR) data for 13 pyrethroids used during 1996-2002 and identified 317 illnesses associated with exposure. PUR found a total of 4,629,852 pound (2,100,068 kg) of the 13 active ingredients were applied during the 7 yr. Type II pyrethroids accounted for 1,979,352 (897,820 kg) and 42.7% of the total pounds applied and 220 (69.6%) of the reported illnesses. Cyfluthrin was associated with 122 cases (55% of illnesses related to type II pyrethroids and 38.4% of all pyrethroid illnesses). Agricultural uses accounted for 118 (37.3%) of the reported illness cases, with 116 cases associated with employment. For the 199 cases (62.8%) associated with nonagricultural use, 132 (66.3%) were occupationally related. Overall, approximately equal numbers of illnesses resulted from individual exposures (167 cases) and group exposures (150 cases). The symptom arrays associated with the pyrethroid illnesses included irritant effects or pares- thesias of the eye, skin, or respiratory tract in 269 cases (84.9%). Type II pyrethroids were more frequently associated with isolated irritant symptoms (107 cases) than the type I pyrethroids (26 of 97 cases). Systemic symptoms were reported in 184 illnesses (58% of cases). Isolated systemic effects occurred in 48 cases (15.1%), but systemic effects were also present in 136 (50.6%) of the 269 cases with irritant symptoms. Residue exposures accounted for 158 illnesses (49.8%). Single or multiple violations of pesticide use regulations contributed to exposures in 90 of the 317 illnesses (28.4%); 76 were related to nonagricultural pyrethroid use. We also report results of DPR Worker Health and Safety Branch (WH&S) investigations of three large group illness episodes related to exposure to type II pyrethroids cyfluthrin and lambda-cyhalothrin that involved primarily respiratory irritation symptoms. An inhalation monitoring study found cyfluthrin air levels that approached experimentally established irritant thresholds for airborne cyfluthrin, from which a mean estimated absorbed dosage of 1.311 microg/kg/d was calculated. Although additional data are needed to establish threshold levels for both irritant and systemic symptoms for cyfluthrin and other pyrethroids, these observations suggest that field residues can cause irritant respiratory symptoms. DPR conducted a residue dissipation study in seven orange groves and estimated cyfluthrin residue half-lives. The dissipation rates fell into two distinct decay patterns, with more rapid decay in groves 1-4 (overall average half-life = 4.9 d) and a considerably longer decay in groves 5-7. The half-life for groves exhibiting the slower residue dissipation was not constant. The first two half-lives for groves 5-7 can be approximated; they are 11 and 32d, respectively. The third investigation involved an illness episode in which 11 raisin harvesters developed acute respiratory irritation symptoms when they were exposed to residues of lambda-cyhalothrin, propargite, and sulfur. Gas chromatography analyses of eight dislodgeable foliar residue (DFR) samples verified mean residues of lambda-cyhalothrin (0.43 +/- 0.10 microg/cm2), propargite (0.35 +/- 0.11 microg/cm2), and sulfur (0.31 +/- 0.28 microg/cm2) on the grape leaves. Subsequent investigation confirmed that the lambda-cyhalothrin product, which was not registered for use on grapes, was mistakenly mixed and applied 45 d earlier at 35 times the highest legal rate for any crop. The effects of exposure to average lambda-cyhalothrin DFR levels of 0.43 microg/cm2 have not been previously documented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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