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Epidemiology of Pesticide Exposure

  1. Michael O'Malley

Published Online: 15 APR 2003

DOI: 10.1002/047126363X.agr072

Encyclopedia of Agrochemicals

Encyclopedia of Agrochemicals

How to Cite

O'Malley, M. 2003. Epidemiology of Pesticide Exposure. Encyclopedia of Agrochemicals. .

Author Information

  1. University of California, Davis, California

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2003


This article discusses how to evaluate effects of pesticides on humans based on the information available. Basic concepts of edipemiology such as disease frequency, incidence and prevalence, sensitivity and specificity are presented. Population incidence can be estimated from illness registry data, which is ultimately derived from cases seeking medical treatment. The quality of such surveillance information is of critical importance. Design study issues involving surveillance are discussed. Various case studies involving the use of pesticides and the incidence of various types of cancers and skin diseases are given.

Outbreak studies are unique opportunities to evaluate hazards of exposure to pesticides. Outbreaks most often occur among groups of field workers. An example of an outbreak of illness in grape workers is given. Cross-sectional (survey) studies are a means of assessing the distribution of illness in a population. Questionnaires are also discussed.

Evaluations of cause and effect are made through observational studies (includes cohort and case control studies) and experimental studies. All types are discussed and examples are given, as well as rules for evaluating these data.


  • epidemiology;
  • studies;
  • pesticides;
  • surveillance information;
  • study design;
  • illness patterns;
  • skin disease;
  • cancer;
  • farm workers;
  • cohort studies;
  • populations;
  • case control studies;
  • examples;
  • design limitations;
  • rules;
  • bradford-Hill criteria;
  • organophosphate poisoning;
  • outbreaks;
  • experimental studies