It is estimated that approximately 2.5 billion tonnes of pesticides are used annually worldwide. Occupational exposures to pesticides products have been linked to a number of adverse health effects including development of cancers, respiratory diseases, detrimental reproductive health, neurological diseases and mental illnesses. A significant proportion of the research on occupational exposures to pesticides has focused on agriculture use and little data is available on exposure levels during pesticide use in horticultural and amenity gardening.
This research project involved using biological monitoring to assess exposure to pesticides in horticulture and amenity gardening. The study was conducted from June to October 2015 among horticultural workers involved in the maintenance of historic properties and ornamental gardens. Two active ingredients, fluroxypyr and glyphosate, were chosen as they were the pesticides of highest volume used by the horticulture group. Pesticide metabolites were measured in urine samples, collected before work tasks and within one hour of completing the work task. Four similar exposure groups were defined: spraying glyphosate with a manual knapsack, spraying glyphosate with a pressured applicator, spraying glyphosate with a large droplet applicator and spraying fluroxypyr with a tractor mounted boom sprayer. A total of 80 exposure measurements were collected (40 paired samples). Contextual information regarding the worker, the task and the environment was recorded for each task sampled.
Qualitative dermal exposure assessments will be performed using the GuLF DREAM assessment tool, (the GUlf Long-term Follow-up DeRmal Exposure Assessment Method). Model predictions will be correlated against actual exposure data. The biological monitoring results will be presented at the conference.