Field Group - Apple Industry

Farmworker Exposure to Pesticide Residues During Apple Thinning

The purpose of this study was to characterize worker exposure to azinphos-methyl over an entire apple thinning season. Three farm sites and 20 workers were recruited for the study. Exposure potential was estimated by measuring residue on leaves, and individual exposures were estimated by measuring urine metabolites and enzyme activity. Measurable levels of guthion (dimethyl thiophosphate or DMTP) residues were found on apple leaves throughout the six-week sampling period. Measurable metabolites of guthion were found in virtually all urine samples collected from workers at the three study sites. Mean guthion concentrations among all thinners were significantly higher than reference workers. This study demonstrated that measurable guthion residues are present on pesticide-treated apple foliage in the Wenatchee region of Washington State throughout a typical thinning season, and that contact with residues on leaves results in low but measurable daily pesticide absorption for workers conducting thinning activities.

Simcox NJ, Camp J, Kalman D, Stebbins A, Bellamy G, Lee IC, Fenske R. Farmworker exposure to organophosphorus pesticide residues during apple thinning in central Washington State. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1999 Nov-Dec;60(6):752-61.

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A Hazard Evaluation of Musculoskeletal Risk Factors in Washington State Apple Packing Companies

This project was designed to characterize and better understand musculoskeletal risk factors among workers in the Washington apple packing warehouse industry, and to identify any controls currently in use to reduce worker injury and illness. Ergonomic assessments were conducted of workers engaged in sorting, packing, and segregating job tasks in three companies, and approximately 105 workers were interviewed. Task observations, workplace measurements, worker interviews, and videotaping were performed. There was good agreement among the variety of assessment instruments about the body sites at greatest risk of musculoskeletal injury. Repetition, static loading of neck and back, extended reaches, and awkward postures were identified as musculoskeletal risk factors. All jobs had at least one task that met the criteria of a "caution zone job" under the new Washington State Ergonomics Rule. Several jobs had at least one "hazard zone" risk factor. The report includes a variety of ergonomic risk factor reduction recommendations.

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