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final publication of an important article
Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 111, Number 3, March 2003
Organophosphorus Pesticide Exposure of Urban and Suburban Preschool
Children with Organic and Conventional Diets
Cynthia L. Curl, Richard A. Fenske, Kai Elgethun
Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health and
Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington USA
We assessed organophosphorus (OP) pesticide exposure from diet by
biological monitoring among Seattle, Washington, preschool children.
Parents kept food diaries for 3 days before urine collection, and they
distinguished organic and conventional foods based on label information.
Children were then classified as having consumed either organic or
conventional diets based on analysis of the diary data. Residential
pesticide use was also recorded for each home. We collected 24-hr urine
samples from 18 children with organic diets and 21 children with
conventional diets and analyzed them for five OP pesticide metabolites.
We found significantly higher median concentrations of total dimethyl
alkylphosphate metabolites than total diethyl alkylphosphate metabolites
(0.06 and 0.02 µmol/L, respectively; p = 0.0001). The median total
dimethyl metabolite concentration was approximately six times higher for
children with conventional diets than for children with organic diets
(0.17 and 0.03 µmol/L; p = 0.0003); mean concentrations differed by a
factor of nine (0.34 and 0.04 µmol/L). We calculated dose estimates from
urinary dimethyl metabolites and from agricultural pesticide use data,
assuming that all exposure came from a single pesticide. The dose
estimates suggest that consumption of organic fruits, vegetables, and
juice can reduce children's exposure levels from above to below the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's current guidelines, thereby shifting
exposures from a range of uncertain risk to a range of negligible risk.
Consumption of organic produce appears to provide a relatively simple
way for parents to reduce their children's exposure to OP pesticides.
Key words: biological monitoring, dialkylphosphates, diet, organic,
organophosphorus pesticides, preschool children, produce. Environ Health
Perspect 111:377-382 (2003).