Environmental exposure to organophosphorus and pyrethroid pesticides in South Australian preschool children: A cross sectional study

Kateryna Babina, Maureen Dollard, Louis Pilotto, John Edwards

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    77 Citations (Scopus)


    Organophosphorus (OP) and pyrethroid (PYR) compounds are the most widely used insecticides. OPs and PYRs are developmental neurotoxicants. Understanding the extent of exposure in the general population and especially in young children is important for the development of public health policy on regulation and use of these chemicals. Presented here are the results of the first investigation into the extent of environmental exposure to neurotoxic insecticides in preschool children in South Australia (SA).Children were enrolled from different areas of SA and assigned into urban, periurban and rural groups according to their residential address. Residential proximity to agricultural activity, parental occupational contact to insecticides and use of insecticides within the household were investigated as potential indirect measures of exposure. We used liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry to measure the following metabolites of OPs and PYRs in urine samples as direct indicators of exposure: dialkylphosphates, p-nitrophenol, 3-methyl-4-nitrophenol, 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol, cis- and trans-3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2,2-dimethyl-cyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid, cis-3-(2,2-dibromovinyl)-2,2-dimethyl-cyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid, 2-methyl-3phenylbenzoic acid and 3-phenoxybenzoic acid. Results were analysed to assess factors affecting the risk and level of exposure. Results were also compared to the published data in similar age groups from US and German studies.The results of this study demonstrate that there was widespread chronic exposure to OPs and and PYRs in SA children. OP metabolites were detected more commonly than PYR. Exposure to more than one chemical and contemporaneous exposure to chemicals from both OP and PYR groups was common in the study population. There were some differences in risks and levels of exposure between the study groups. Exposure to some restricted use of chemicals, for example, fenitrothion, was higher in periurban and rural children. There was no difference among the study groups in exposure to chlorpyrifos, used commonly in agriculture and in domestic settings and most frequently found OP pesticide in food in Australia. South Australian children appear to have higher levels of exposure compared their peers in US and Germany.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)109-120
    Number of pages12
    JournalEnvironment International
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


    • Children
    • Environmental exposure
    • Neurotoxic insecticides
    • Organophosphate
    • Pyrethroid
    • South Australia


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