Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 577-588

First online:

Exposure to Omethoate During Stapling of Ornamental Plants in Intensive Cultivation Tunnels: Influence of Environmental Conditions on Absorption ofthe Pesticide

  • C. ApreaAffiliated withLaboratorio di Sanità Pubblica Email author 
  • , L. CentiAffiliated withServizio Prevenzione Igiene e Sicurezza nei Luoghi di Lavoro
  • , S. SantiniAffiliated withServizio Prevenzione Igiene e Sicurezza nei Luoghi di Lavoro
  • , L. LunghiniAffiliated withLaboratorio di Sanità Pubblica
  • , B. BanchiAffiliated withLaboratorio di Sanità Pubblica
  • , G. SciarraAffiliated withLaboratorio di Sanità Pubblica

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This report describes a study of exposure to omethoate during manual operations with ornamental plants in two intensive cultivation tunnels (tunnel 8 and tunnel 5). Airborne concentrations of omethoate were in the range 1.48–5.36 nmol/m3. Total skin contamination in the range 329.94–12,934.46 nmol/day averaged 98.1 ± 1.1% and 99.3 ± 0.6% of the total potential dose in tunnel 8 and tunnel 5, respectively. Estimated absorbed doses during work in tunnel 5 were much higher than the acceptable daily intake of omethoate, which is 1.41 nmol/kg b.w. This finding shows that organization of the work or the protective clothing worn in tunnel 5 did not protect the workers from exposure. Urinary excretion of alkylphosphates was significantly higher than in the general population, increasing with exposure and usually showing a peak in the urine sample collected after the work shift. Urinary alkylphosphates showed a good correlation with estimated potential doses during work in tunnel 8 and are confirmed as sensitive biological indicators of exposure to phosphoric esters. The linear regression analysis between the urinary excretion of alkylphosphate, expressed as total nmol excreted in 24 h, and total cutaneous dose allows for estimating that the fraction of omethoate absorbed through the skin during work in tunnel 8 is about 16.5%.