A Longitudinal Approach to Assessing Urban and Suburban Children’s Exposure to Pyrethroid Pesticides

Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 114, Number 9, September 2006
Research | Children’s Health

Chensheng Lu,1 Dana B. Barr,2 Melanie Pearson,1 Scott Bartell,1 and Roberto Bravo

1 Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; 2 National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA


We conducted a longitudinal study to assess the exposure of 23 elementary school age children to pyrethroid pesticides, using urinary pyrethroid metabolites as exposure biomarkers. We substituted most of the children’s conventional diets with organic food items for 5 consecutive days and collected two daily spot urine samples, first morning and before bedtime voids, throughout the 15-day study period. We analyzed urine samples for five common pyrethroid metabolites. We found an association between the parents’ self-reported pyrethroid use in the residential environment and elevated pyrethroid metabolite levels found in their children’s urine. Children were also exposed to pyrethroids through their conventional diets, although the magnitude was smaller than for the residential exposure. Children’s ages appear to be significantly associated with pyrethroids exposure, which is likely attributed to the use of pyrethroids around the premises or in the facilities where older children engaged in the outdoor activities. We conclude that residential pesticide use represents the most important risk factor for children’s exposure to pyrethroid insecticides. Because of the wide use of pyrethroids in the United States, the findings of this study are important for both children’s pesticide exposure assessment and environmental public health. Key words: children’s pesticide exposure, dietary exposure, PBA, permethrin, pyrethroids, residential exposure, trans-DCCA, urinary biomarker.

Environ Health Perspect 114: 1419‚ 1423 (2006). doi:10.1289/ehp.9043 available via http://dx.doi.org/ [Online 26 April 2006]

Address correspondence to C. Lu, 1518 Clifton Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30322 USA. Telephone: (404) 727-2131. Fax: (404) 727-8744. E-mail: clu2@sph.emory.edu

We express our sincere appreciation to the children who participated and to their parents who greatly assisted in this study. We also thank R. Irish, K. Toepel, and P. Sande for their assistance in conducting this study, and A. Bishop, P. Restrepo, R. Walker, J. Nguyen, and D. Walden at the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for their help with sample analysis.

This study was supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program (RD-829364), and the NCEH, CDC. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the U.S. EPA or CDC.

The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.

Received 26 January 2006; accepted 26 April 2006.