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Operative Modalities and Exposure to Pesticides During Open Field Treatments Among a Group of Agricultural Subcontractors

Abstract

This paper reports the results of a field study of occupational pesticide exposure (respiratory and dermal) among a group of Italian agricultural subcontractors. These workers consistently use pesticides during much of the year, thus resulting in a high exposure risk. Ten complete treatments were monitored during spring/summer. Pesticides that were applied included azinphos-methyl, dicamba, dimethoate, terbuthylazine, and alachlor. Several observations were made on worker operative modalities and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during work. Total potential and actual exposure ranged from 14 to 5700 μg and from 0.04 to 4600 μg, respectively. Dermal exposure contributed substantially more than inhalation to the total exposure (93.9–100%). Hand contamination ranged from 0.04 to 4600 μg and was the major contributor to dermal exposure. Penetration through specific protective garments was less than 2.4% in all cases, although penetration through general work clothing was as high as 26.8%. The risk evaluation, based on comparison between acceptable daily intake and total absorbed doses, demonstrates that it is presumable to expect possible health effects for workers regularly operating without PPE and improper tractors. Comparisons between exposure levels and operative modalities highlighted that complete PPE and properly equipped tractors contributed to a significant reduction in total exposure to pesticides during agricultural activities. In conclusion, monitored agricultural subcontractors presented very different levels of pesticide exposure due to the high variability of operative modalities and use of PPE. These results indicate the need to critically evaluate the efficacy of training programs required for obtaining a pesticide license in Italy.

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Correspondence to Matteo Vitali.

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Vitali, M., Protano, C., Del Monte, A. et al. Operative Modalities and Exposure to Pesticides During Open Field Treatments Among a Group of Agricultural Subcontractors. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 57, 193–202 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00244-008-9225-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00244-008-9225-3

Keywords

  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Dimethoate
  • Alachlor
  • Dicamba
  • Dermal Exposure