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Keywords:

  • agriculture;
  • agrochemicals;
  • pesticides;
  • environmental exposure;
  • occupational exposure;
  • family

Abstract

Background Families of farmer pesticide applicators have unusual opportunities for exposure, directly or indirectly, to pesticides. These exposures are not well characterized.

Methods Subjects were 26,793 licensed private pesticide applicators enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study, a cohort study being conducted in Iowa and North Carolina. Questionnaires were completed by the applicators and their spouses.

Results Many indirect exposure opportunities exist; for example, 21% of homes are within 50 yards of pesticide mixing areas, 27% of applicators store pesticides in their homes, and 94% of clothing worn for pesticide work is washed in the same machine as other laundry. Direct exposure opportunities also occur; for example, 51% of wives of applicators worked in the fields in the last growing season, 40% of wives have ever mixed or applied pesticides, and over half of children aged 11 or more do farm chores.

Discussion/Conclusions The extent of the opportunities for exposure of family members of farmer pesticide applicators makes studies of their health important. Am J. Ind. Med. 34:581–587, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.