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Pesticides present in migrant farmworker housing in North Carolina

Authors

  • Thomas A. Arcury PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Family and Community Medicine, Center for Worker Health, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    • Correspondence to: Thomas A. Arcury, PhD, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157.

      E-mail: tarcury@wakehealth.edu

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  • Chensheng Lu PhD,

    1. Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Haiying Chen MD, PhD,

    1. Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Biostatistical Sciences, Center for Worker Health, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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  • Sara A. Quandt PhD

    1. Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, Center for Worker Health Wake, Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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  • Disclosure Statement: The authors report no conflicts of interests.

Abstract

Background

Migrant farmworkers are exposed to pesticides at work. Housing provided to migrant farmworkers may also expose them to pesticides, increasing their health risks. This analysis (1) describes the presence of organophosphorous (OP) and pyrethroid pesticides in North Carolina migrant farmworker houses, and (2) delineates associations of farmworker camp characteristics with pesticide detection and concentration.

Methods

In 2010, 186 migrant farmworkers camps in NC were recruited (participation rate of 82.3%); pesticide wipe samples for 176 houses were analyzed. Tobacco is the predominant hand-harvested crop in this region. Two farmworkers per camp completed interviews; a third assisted with a housing inspection. Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry was used to detect OP and pyrethroid pesticides. Covariates of pesticide detection and concentration were determined with ANOVA and Tobit regression.

Results

OPs were found in 166 of 176 houses (average of 2.4/house); pyrethroids were found in 171 houses (average of 4.3/house). The number of different OPs detected in each camp and concentrations of these OPs were not associated with camp and housing characteristics. The number of different pyrethroids detected in each camp and concentrations of these pyrethroids were associated with camps having residents with H2-A visas, a posted North Carolina Department of Labor Certificate of Inspection, no barracks, fewer residents, no bedroom weather protection or floor violations, and no roaches.

Conclusions

Farmworkers are exposed to pesticides where they live. Policy on removing pesticides from farmworker houses is needed. Reducing pesticides in farmworker houses will reduce one health risk confronted by this vulnerable population. Am. J. Ind. Med. 57:312–322, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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