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Neurotoxicology. 2016 Mar;53:165-172. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2016.01.009. Epub 2016 Jan 25.

Organophosphorus pesticide exposure and neurobehavioral performance in Latino children living in an orchard community.

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Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, United States.
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States.
Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, United States; Oregon Institute for Occupational Health Sciences, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, United States. Electronic address:


Children living in agricultural communities have a greater risk from pesticides due to para-occupational pathways. The goal of this study was to assess the impact of exposure to organophosphorus pesticides on the neurobehavioral performance of school-aged Latino children over time. Two exposure measures were used to estimate children's pesticide exposure: parent's occupation (agricultural or non-agricultural) and organophosphate residues in home carpet dust samples. During 2008-2011, 206 school-aged children completed a battery of neurobehavioral tests two times, approximately one year apart. The associations between both exposure measures and neurobehavioral performance were examined. Pesticide residues were detected in dust samples from both agricultural and non-agricultural homes, however, pesticides were detected more frequently and in higher concentrations in agricultural homes compared to non-agricultural homes. Although few differences were found between agricultural and non-agricultural children at both visits, deficits in learning from the first visit to the second visit, or less improvement, was found in agricultural children relative to non-agricultural children. These differences were significant for the Divided Attention and Purdue Pegboard tests. These findings are consistent with previous research showing deficits in motor function. A summary measure of organophosphate residues was not associated with neurobehavioral performance. Results from this study indicate that children in agricultural communities are at increased risk from pesticides as a result of a parent working in agricultural. Our findings suggest that organophosphate exposure may be associated with deficits in learning on neurobehavioral performance, particularly in tests of with motor function. In spite of regulatory phasing out of organophosphates in the U.S., we still see elevated levels and higher detection rates of several organophosphates in agricultural households than non-agricultural households, albeit lower levels than prior studies.


Children’s health; Neurobehavioral development; Organophosphate pesticide

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Conflict of interest statement

Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and Dr. Rohlman have a significant financial interest in Northwest Education Training and Assessment, LLC, a company that may have a commercial interest in the results of this research and technology. This potential conflict of interest was reviewed and a management plan approved by the University of Iowa and the OHSU Conflict of Interest in Research Committee was implemented.

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