Prickly issue

Maximum intake of pesticides is through skin

Published: Friday 31 December 2004

agricultural workers are not only exposed to pesticides via inhalation, but also through the skin. Researchers of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, usa, and the us Environmental Protection Agency (epa) have found that dermal exposure to chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide, contributes substantially to workers' total exposure.

The authors analysed data from five studies, during which 80 workers across nine us states (Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan, Florida and Ohio) were studied. The participants were involved in a variety of jobs, including preparing pesticide formulations, loading the pesticide onto application devices, applying the pesticide and inspecting the crops. The researchers found that for nearly half of the workers monitored, more chlorpyrifos was absorbed through the skin than was inhaled.

The findings imply that policymakers are not precisely evaluating workers' exposure. "Accurate methods to estimate exposure are important because they form the basis to protect workers' health," the epa researchers assert.

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