The accuracy of the exposure assessment is a critical factor in epidemiological investigations of pesticide exposures and health in agricultural populations. However, few studies have been conducted to evaluate questionnaire-based exposure metrics. The Agricultural Health Study (AHS) is a prospective cohort study of pesticide applicators who provided detailed questionnaire information on their use of specific pesticides. A field study was performed for a subset of the applicators enrolled in the AHS to assess a pesticide exposure algorithm through comparison of algorithm intensity scores with measured exposures. Pre- and post-application urinary biomarker measurements were made for 2,4-D (n = 69) and chlorpyrifos (n = 17) applicators. Dermal patch, hand wipe, and personal air samples were also collected. Intensity scores were calculated using information from technician observations and an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Correlations between observer and questionnaire intensity scores were high (Spearman r = 0.92 and 0.84 for 2,4-D and chlorpyrifos, respectively). Intensity scores from questionnaires for individual applications were significantly correlated with post-application urinary concentrations for both 2,4-D (r = 0.42, p < 0.001) and chlorpyrifos (r = 0.53, p = 0.035) applicators. Significant correlations were also found between intensity scores and estimated hand loading, estimated body loading, and air concentrations for 2,4-D applicators (r-values 0.28–0.50, p-values<0.025). Across all chlorpyrifos applicators, body loading measurements were significantly correlated with intensity scores from questionnaires (r=0.50, p=0.039) but not from observations (r=0.18, p=0.482). Dermal measures for in-furrow granular applications of chlorpyrifos (n = 12) were very low and not correlated with intensity scores. A linear regression model indicated that the algorithm factors for individual applications explained 24% of the variability in post-application urinary 2,4-D concentration, which increased to 60% when the pre-application urine concentration was included. The results of the measurements support the use of the algorithm for estimating questionnaire-based exposure intensities in the AHS for liquid pesticide products. Refinement of the algorithm may be possible using the results from this and other measurement studies.
Assessment of a pesticide exposure intensity algorithm in the agricultural health study
Thomas, K., Dosemeci, M., Coble, J. B., Hoppin, J. A., Sheldon, L. S., Chapa, G., ... Knott, C. (2010). Assessment of a pesticide exposure intensity algorithm in the agricultural health study. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, 20(6), 559-569. https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2009.54