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Study highlights importance of pesticide worker dermal exposure

Agricultural pesticide workers are not only exposed to pesticides from inhalation, but also through their skin. The dermal route of exposure to chlorpyrifos, a common agricultural pesticide, is known to contribute substantially to workers' total exposure, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who analyzed agricultural test data provided by pesticide manufacturers. The study authors report that accurate methods for estimating dermal exposure are important because they form the basis for assessing and protecting worker health. The study is published in the current online issue of Annals of Occupational Hygiene.

"Although our study's findings aren't unexpected, they highlight the significance of dermal exposure among pesticide workers," said Laura Geer, the study's lead author and a PhD student in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Environmental Health Sciences.

Geer explained that the EPA requires pesticide manufacturers to evaluate the potential for exposure to pesticide handlers. "Since there is a paucity of such data in the literature, we sought to mine these data. Our study demonstrates their utility and value to answer questions fundamental to dermal exposure and to protecting worker health," she said. "For example, from these data, we were able to estimate the fraction of pesticide absorbed through the skin based on real-world agricultural worker monitoring."

The study authors analyzed data from five studies, including a total of 80 workers across nine states (Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan, Florida and Ohio). The participants held a variety of pesticide-related jobs, including preparing pesticide formulations, loading the pesticide into application devices, applying the pesticide and inspecting crops after application.

They found that dermal exposure represents a substantial p
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Contact: Kenna L. Lowe
paffairs@jhsph.edu
410-955-6878
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
24-Nov-2004


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