Acephate exposure and decontamination on tobacco harvesters' hands

Brian D. Curwin, Misty J. Hein, Wayne T. Sanderson, Marcia Nishioka, Wayne Buhler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Agricultural workers manually harvesting tobacco have the potential for high dermal fexposure to pesticides, particularly on the hands. Often gloves are not worn as it hinders the harvesters' ability to harvest the tobacco leaves. To enable harvesters to remove pesticide residue on the hands and decrease absorbed doses, the EPA Worker Protection Standard requires growers to have hand-wash stations available in the field. The purpose of this study was to measure the concentration of acephate residue on the hands of tobacco harvesters, and the effectiveness of hand washing in reducing the acephate residue. Hand-wipes from the hands of 12 tobacco harvesters were collected at the end of the morning and at the end of the afternoon over 2 consecutive days. Each harvester had one hand-wiped prior to washing his hands, and the other hand-wiped after washing his hands with soap and water. In addition to the hand-wipe samples, leaf-wipe samples were collected from 15 tobacco plants to determine the amount of acephate residue on the plants. The average acephate level in leaf-wipe samples was 1.4 ng/cm2. The geometric mean prewash and postwash acephate levels on the hands were 10.5 and 0.4 ng/cm2, respectively. Both prewash (P-value = 0.0009) and postwash hand (P-value = 0.01) samples were positively correlated with leaf-wipe concentrations. Tobacco harvester position tended to influence hand exposure. Hand washing significantly reduced acephate levels on the hand, after adjusting for sampling period, hand sampled, job position, and leaf-wipe concentration (P-value≤0.0001) with levels reduced by 96%. A substantial amount of acephate was transferred to the hands, and while hand washing significantly reduced the amount of residue on the hands, not all residue was removed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-210
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Acephate
  • Hand exposure
  • Hand washing
  • Pesticides
  • Tobacco harvester

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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