Background: Pesticides and their potential adverse health effects are of great concern and there is a dearth of knowledge regarding occupational exposure to pesticides among amenity horticulturalists.
Objective: This study aims to measure occupational exposures to amenity horticuturalists using pesticides containing the active ingredients, glyphosate and fluroxypyr by urinary biomonitoring.
Methods: A total of 40 work tasks involving glyphosate and fluroxypyr were surveyed over the period of June – October 2015. Workers used a variety of pesticide application methods; manual knapsack sprayers, controlled droplet applicators, pressurised lance applicators and boom sprayers. Pesticide concentrations were measured in urine samples collected pre and post work tasks using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Differences in pesticide urinary concentrations pre and post work task, and across applications methods were analysed using paired t- tests and linear regression.
Results: Pesticide urinary concentrations were higher than those reported for environmental exposures and comparable to those reported in some agricultural studies. Log-transformed pesticide concentrations were statistically significantly higher in post-work samples compared to those in pre-work samples (paired t-test, p<0.001; for both µg L-1 and µmol/mol creatinine). Urinary pesticide concentrations in post-work samples had a geometric mean (geometric standard deviation) of 0.66 (1.11) µg L-1 for glyphosate and 0.29 (1.69) µg L-1 for fluroxypyr. Linear regression revealed a statistically significant positive association to exist between the time-interval between samples and the log-transformed adjusted (i.e. post- minus pre-task) pesticide urinary concentrations (β = 0.0039; p<0.0001).
Conclusion: Amenity horticulturists can be exposed to pesticides during tasks involving their products. Further research is required to evaluate routes of exposure among this occupational group.