Background. Despite the widespread use of organophosphate (OP) pesticides, information on predictors of children’s exposure to such pesticides is scarce.
Objective. To assess exposure to OP pesticides in children 3-11 year-old living in agricultural communities and urban areas from Andalusia (Southern Spain), and to identify the main determinants of exposure.
Methods. A longitudinal study was conducted in children 3-11-year-old children living in agricultural communities and urban areas from the provinces of Almeria, Granada and Huelva (Andalusia, Spain) between 2010 and 2011. Urinary levels of six dialkylphosphate (DAP) metabolites were measured by UHPLC-QqQ-MS/MS at the periods of low and high pesticide use in the agriculture (LPU and HPU, respectively). Information on sociodemographic characteristics, parental occupation, residential history, lifestyle and diet, among other relevant factors, was obtained from questionnaires administered to the mothers.
Results. A total of 559 and 597 children participated in LPU and HPU periods, respectively. The proportion of urine samples below LOD was 67.4% for ΣDMs (sum of dimethyl metabolites), 77% for ΣDEs (sum of diethyl metabolites) and 58.5% for ΣDAPs (sum of total dialkylphosphate metabolites) in LPU period, and 50.4% for ΣDMs, 65.3% for ΣDEs and 43.9% for ΣDAPs in HPU period. Significantly greater urinary ΣDAP, ΣDM and ΣDE levels were observed in HPU relative to LPU period. Maternal schooling years, proximity of the house to crops or greenhouses, use of insecticides at home, spraying the garden with pesticides, storage of pesticides at home, house cleaning frequency, as well as child’s frequency of bath/shower, were found to be the major predictors of urinary levels of ΣDAP. Likewise, not washing fruit and vegetables before consumption and banana consumption were also identified as determinants of the exposure levels.
Conclusions. Urinary levels of metabolites of OP pesticides found in this study were relatively lower compared to similar studies. DAP levels were significantly increased in HPU period. Maternal schooling years and variables related to residential environment and home exposures were identified as the most relevant determinants of DAP metabolites. Regarding diet, banana consumption and not washing fruit before consumption were also identified as determinants of the exposure levels. This study contributes to improve our knowledge on the main sources and determinants of children exposure to OPS, and given that children are more vulnerable than adults this information is essential to reduce children exposure and protect their health.