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Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Nov;118(11):1625-30. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1002044.

Assessing children's dietary pesticide exposure: direct measurement of pesticide residues in 24-hr duplicate food samples.

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Exposure, Epidemiology, and Risk Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



The data presented here are a response to calls for more direct measurements of pesticide residues in foods consumed by children and provide an opportunity to compare direct measures of pesticide residues in foods representing actual consumption with those reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program.


We measured pesticide residues in 24-hr duplicate food samples collected from a group of 46 young children participating in the Children's Pesticide Exposure Study (CPES).


Parents were instructed to collect 24-hr duplicate food samples of all conventional fruits, vegetables, and fruit juices equal to the quantity consumed by their children, similarly prewashed/ prepared, and from the same source or batch. Individual or composite food items were analyzed for organophosphate (OP) and pyrethroid insecticide residues.


We collected a total of 239 24-hr duplicate food samples collected from the 46 CPES children. We found 14% or 5% of those food samples contained at least one OP or pyrethroid insecticide, respectively. We measured a total of 11 OP insecticides, at levels ranging from 1 to 387 ng/g, and three pyrethroid insecticides, at levels ranging from 2 to 1,133 ng/g, in children's food samples. We found that many of the food items consumed by the CPES children were also on the list of the most contaminated food commodities reported by the Environmental Working Group.


The frequent consumption of food commodities with episodic presence of pesticide residues that are suspected to cause developmental and neurological effects in young children supports the need for further mitigation.

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