Measurement of children's exposure to pesticides: Analysis of urinary metabolite levels in a probability-based sample

J. L. Adgate, D. B. Barr, C. A. Clayton, Lynn E Eberly, N. C.G. Freeman, P. J. Lioy, L. L. Needham, E. D. Pellizzari, J. J. Quackenboss, A. Roy, K. Sexton

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The Minnesota Children's Pesticide Exposure Study is a probability-based sample of 102 children 3-13 years old who were monitored for commonly used pesticides. During the summer of 1997, first-morning-void urine samples (1-3 per child) were obtained for 88% of study children and analyzed for metabolites of insecticides and herbicides: carbamates and related compounds (1-NAP), atrazine (AM), malathion (MDA), and chlorpyrifos and related compounds (TCPy). TCPy was present in 93% of the samples, whereas 1-NAP, MDA, and AM were detected in 45%, 37%, and 2% of samples, respectively. Measured intrachild means ranged from 1.4 μg/L for MDA to 9.2 μg/L for TCPy, and there was considerable intrachild variability. For children providing three urine samples, geometric mean TCPy levels were greater than the detection limit in 98% of the samples, and nearly half the children had geometric mean 1-NAP and MDA levels greater than the detection limit. Interchild variability was significantly greater than intrachild variability for 1-NAP (p = 0.0037) and TCPy (p < 0.0001). The four metabolites measured were not correlated within urine samples, and children's metabolite levels did not vary systematically by sex, age, race, household income, or putative household pesticide use. On a log scale, mean TCPy levels were significantly higher in urban than in nonurban children (7.2 vs. 4.7 μg/L; p = 0.036). Weighted population mean concentrations were 3.9 [standard error (SE) = 0.7; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.5, 5.3] μg/L for 1-NAP, 1.7 (SE = 0.3; 95% CI, 1.1, 2.3) μg/L for MDA, and 9.6 (SE = 0.9; 95% CI, 7.8, 11) μg/L for TCPy. The weighted population results estimate the overall mean and variability of metabolite levels for more than 84,000 children in the census tracts sampled. Levels of 1-NAP were lower than reported adult reference range concentrations, whereas TCPy concentrations were substantially higher. Concentrations of MDA were detected more frequently and found at higher levels in children than in a recent nonprobability-based sample of adults. Overall, Minnesota children's TCPy and MDA levels were higher than in recent population-based studies of adults in the United States, but the relative magnitude of intraindividual variability was similar for adults and children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-590
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2001


  • Children's health
  • Exposure assessment
  • Minnesota Children's Pesticide Exposure Study (MNCPES)
  • National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
  • National Human Exposure Assessment Survey (NHEXAS)
  • Organophosphate pesticides
  • Urinary biomarkers


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