Field Group - Farming

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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Biological Monitoring of Organophosphorous Pesticide Exposure Among Children of Agricultural Workers

Children living with pesticide applicators were monitored for increased risk of pesticide exposure. Sixty-two families (48 study families, 14 reference families) were recruited from Eastern Washington. Adults were interviewed to determine residential pesticide use, cleaning practices, and child activity. Pesticide handlers were interviewed about hygiene practices and occupational pesticide use. Urine samples were collected from 88 children, with repeated measures 3-7 days apart. Guthion (dimethyl thiophosphate or DMTP) metabolite levels were significantly higher in applicator children than in reference children. Applicator children living less than 200 feet from an orchard were more likely to have DMTP in their urine than applicator children who lived farther away. A marginally significant relationship between exposure and potential track-in from wearing work shoes in the home was found. These results confirm that applicator children experience higher exposure levels than children in the reference population.

Loewenherz C, Fenske RA, Simcox NJ, Bellamy G, Kalman D. Biological monitoring of organophosphorus pesticide exposure among children of agricultural workers in central Washington State. Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Dec;105(12):1344-53.

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Animal Handling & Safety: Developing A Reliable Evaluation Tool

The objective of this project was to develop and evaluate an observational checklist to evaluate safe animal-handling behaviors and to develop protocols for its use. The reliability of the tool was piloted through several observations of youth animal-handling activities. A final written report of a pilot study contained evaluation checklists (one for horse-handling, one for cattle handling) and guidelines for use of the checklists.

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Farmworker Eye Protection

This pilot project was conducted to understand the perceived barriers to the use of available eye protective wear by orchard pruners, and evaluate work activities and practices that may place workers at increased risk of eye injury. Growers and 32 male farm workers from three farms participated in the project. All three growers supplied and mandated the use of protective eyewear. All workers in the study reported wearing eye protection most if not all the time, and said they believed that protective eyewear was worth wearing even if it slowed them down a bit. Both growers and workers agreed on the attributes of eyewear that would improve motivation to wear it. These attributes included anti-fog lenses, comfort, stylishness, non-scratch lenses, polarized lenses, and good air circulation. Side shields were also important, because growers perceived that workers were more likely to be injured when turning in the trees while pruning. Results of the project included a graduate student thesis, "An Assessment of Barriers to Use of Eyewear Among Seasonal Apple Orchard Workers in the Yakima Valley," and a technical report.