Characteristics of Pesticide Use in a Pesticide Applicator Cohort: The Agricultural Health Study

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Alavanja, Michael
Sandler, Dale
McDonnell, Cheryl
Lynch, Charles
Pennybacker, Margaret
Hoar Zahm, Shelia
Mage, David
Steen, William
Blair, Aaron
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Wintersteen, Wendy
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The Department of Entomology seeks to teach the study of insects, their life-cycles, and the practicalities in dealing with them, for use in the fields of business, industry, education, and public health. The study of entomology can be applied towards evolution and ecological sciences, and insects’ relationships with other organisms & humans, or towards an agricultural or horticultural focus, focusing more on pest-control and management.

The Department of Entomology was founded in 1975 as a result of the division of the Department of Zoology and Entomology.

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Data on recent and historic pesticide use, pesticide application methods, and farm characteristics were collected from 35,879 restricted-use pesticide applicators in the first 2 years of the Agricultural Health Study, a prospective study of a large cohort of private and commercial licensed pesticide applicators that is being conducted in Iowa and North Carolina. (In Iowa, applicators are actually “certified,” while in North Carolina they are “licensed”; for ease of reference the term license will be used for both states in this paper.) Commercial applicators (studied in Iowa only) apply pesticides more days per year than private applicators in either state. When the types of pesticides being used by different groups are compared using the Spearman coefficient of determination (r2), we find that Iowa private and Iowa commercial applicators tend to use the same type of pesticides (r2=0.88). White and nonwhite private applicators tended to use the same type of pesticides (North Carolinar2=0.89), as did male and female private applicators (Iowar2=0.85 and North Carolinar2=0.84). There was less similarity (r2=0.50) between the types of pesticides being used by Iowa and North Carolina private applicators. A greater portion of Iowa private applicators use personal protective equipment than do North Carolina private applicators, and pesticide application methods varied by state. This heterogeneity in potential exposures to pesticides between states should be useful for subsequent epidemiologic analyses using internal comparison groups.


This article is published as Alavanja, Michael CR, Dale P. Sandler, Cheryl J. McDonnell, Charles F. Lynch, Margaret Pennybacker, Shelia Hoar Zahm, David T. Mage, William C. Steen, Wendy Wintersteen, and Aaron Blair. "Characteristics of pesticide use in a pesticide applicator cohort: the Agricultural Health Study." Environmental research 80, no. 2 (1999): 172-179. doi: 10.1006/enrs.1998.3888. Posted with permission.