Potential Health Effects Related to Pesticide Use on Athletic Fields

Authors


Correspondence to:

Robyn Gilden, Family and Community Health, University of Maryland School of Nursing, 655 W. Lombard St, Rm 665A Baltimore, MD 21201. E-mail: rgilden@son.umaryland.edu

Abstract

Objectives

Children come in contact with athletic fields on a daily basis. How these fields are maintained may have an impact on children's potential exposure to pesticides and associated health effects.

Design and Sample

This is a cross-sectional, descriptive study that utilized a survey to assess playing field maintenance practices regarding the use of pesticides. Athletic fields (N = 101) in Maryland were stratified by population density and randomly selected.

Measures

A survey was administered to field managers (n = 33) to assess maintenance practices, including the use of pesticides. Analysis included descriptive statistics and generalized estimating equations.

Results

Managers of 66 fields (65.3%) reported applying pesticides, mainly herbicides (57.4%). Managers of urban and suburban fields were less likely to apply pesticides than managers of rural fields. Combined cultivation practice was also a significant predictor of increased pesticide use.

Conclusions

The use of pesticides on athletic fields presents many possible health hazards. Results indicate that there is a significant risk of exposure to pesticide for children engaged in sports activities. Given that children are also often concurrently exposed to pesticides as food residues and from home pest management, we need to examine opportunities to reduce their exposures. Both policy and practice questions are raised.

Ancillary