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Background Women who work in agriculture may have greater risk of pesticide exposure than men who share this occupation. Despite an increase in the fraction of the agricultural workforce comprised by women, few studies have characterized pesticide exposure in the USA with a focus on among these workers.

Objective This pilot study aimed to describe pesticide exposure in a cohort of Latina farmworkers in farming communities in southwestern Idaho.

Methods We collected urine samples from 29 Latina farmworkers, which were analyzed for 11 pesticide biomarkers. We evaluated the effect of pesticide spray season on urinary biomarker levels, and explored the effect of self-reported status as a pesticide handler on measured exposures.

Results No significant differences were found between biomarker levels in samples collected during the nonspray and spray seasons. We observed 11 extreme outlying values in samples collected during the pesticide spray season. The most extreme outlying values (MDA: 51.7 ng/mL; 3-PBA: 11.8 ng/mL; trans-DCCA: 23.4 ng/mL; and 2,4-D: 31.1 ng/mL) were all provided during the spray season by women who reported loading, mixing or applying pesticides.

Conclusions These results provide suggestive evidence that Latina farmworkers who handle pesticides during the spray season may be at an increased risk of exposure to organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides, as well as the herbicide 2,4- D. We recommend that future research into pesticide exposures among farmworkers should include particular focus on this group.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.