Forestry workers involved in aerial application of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D): Exposure and urinary excretion

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Abstract

Urinalysis was conducted on six volunteer workers involved in mixing and loading 2,4-D ester solutions into aircraft and in guiding the spray aircraft in two conifer release programs during 1981 and 1982. Exposures were reduced by wearing a full line of protective clothing. Two females and one male were involved in mixing the spray for 109 aircraft loads over an 11-day period in 1981. During the 1981 operation, the highest daily excretion of 2,4-D in the urine was 0.30, 0.94 and 9.59 μg/kg body weight for the three workers. In 1982, three male workers were involved, one diluting the concentrated solution and loading the aircraft, and two marking the swaths for aerial application over an 18 day period. The highest daily excretion of 2,4-D in the urine was 7.73, 8.37, 22.2 μg/kg body weight for the three workers. One of the authors, acting as a bystander, was directly sprayed in the 1982 season and 0.44% was absorbed based on urine analysis. The highest daily excretion of 2,4-D in his urine was 4.75 μg/kg body weight. For all seven people, the calculated exposure was less than the no-effect level of 10 mg/kg of body weight/day by a large margin of safety. The presence of 2,4-D in urine samples in the pre-spray period and its slow disappearance during the post spray period prompted further investigation. Swabs of internal surfaces of living quarters revealed deposits of 2,4-D from 0.7 to 288 μg/0.1m2 and on spray equipment from 0.7 to 184 μg/0.1m2.