Lesliam Quiros-Alcala, Asa Bradman, Marcia Nishioka, Martha E Harnly, Alan Hubbard, Thomas E McKone, Jeannette Ferber and Brenda Eskenazi
Environmental Health 2011, 10:19 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-10-19
Published: 16 March 2011
Studies report that residential use of pesticides in low-income homes is common because of poor housing conditions and pest infestations; however, exposure data on contemporary-use pesticides in low-income households is limited. We conducted a study in low-income homes from urban and agricultural communities to: characterize and compare house dust levels of agricultural and residential-use pesticides; evaluate the correlation of pesticide concentrations in samples collected several days apart; examine whether concentrations of pesticides phased-out for residential uses, but still used in agriculture (i.e., chlorpyrifos and diazinon) have declined in homes in the agricultural community; and estimate resident children's pesticide exposures via inadvertent dust ingestion.
In 2006, we collected up to two dust samples 5-8 days apart from each of 13 urban homes in Oakland, California and 15 farmworker homes in Salinas, California, an agricultural community (54 samples total). We measured 22 insecticides including organophosphates (chlorpyrifos, diazinon, diazinon-oxon, malathion, methidathion, methyl parathion, phorate, and tetrachlorvinphos) and pyrethroids (allethrin-two isomers, bifenthrin, cypermethrin-four isomers, deltamethrin, esfenvalerate, imiprothrin, permethrin-two isomers, prallethrin, and sumithrin), one phthalate herbicide (chlorthal-dimethyl), one dicarboximide fungicide (iprodione), and one pesticide synergist (piperonyl butoxide).
More than half of the households reported applying pesticides indoors. Analytes frequently detected in both locations included chlorpyrifos, diazinon, permethrin, allethrin, cypermethrin, and piperonyl butoxide; no differences in concentrations or loadings were observed between locations for these analytes. Chlorthal-dimethyl was detected solely in farmworker homes, suggesting contamination due to regional agricultural use. Concentrations in samples collected 5-8 days apart in the same home were strongly correlated for the majority of the frequently detected analytes (Spearman rho=0.70-1.00, p<0.01). Additionally, diazinon and chlorpyrifos concentrations in Salinas farmworker homes were 40-80% lower than concentrations reported in samples from Salinas farmworker homes studied between 2000-2002, suggesting a temporal reduction after their residential phase-out. Finally, estimated non-dietary pesticide intake for resident children did not exceed current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) recommended chronic reference doses (RfDs).
Low-income children are potentially exposed to a mixture of pesticides as a result of poorer housing quality. Historical or current pesticide use indoors is likely to contribute to ongoing exposures. Agricultural pesticide use may also contribute to additional exposures to some pesticides in rural areas. Although children's non-dietary intake did not exceed U.S. EPA RfDs for select pesticides, this does not ensure that children are free of any health risks as RfDs have their own limitations, and the children may be exposed indoors via other pathways. The frequent pesticide use reported and high detection of several home-use pesticides in house dust suggests that families would benefit from integrated pest management strategies to control pests and minimize current and future exposures.