Determinants of atrazine contamination in the homes of commercial pesticide applicators across time

Matthew J. Lozier, Brian Curwin, Marcia G. Nishioka, Wayne Sanderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Twenty-nine commercial pesticide applicator households in eastern Iowa were enrolled to investigate in-home contamination of atrazine, the most commonly used corn herbicide in the Unites States. From each home, four vacuum dust samples were collected during atrazine application season (Visit 1) and again 6 months later during winter months (Visit 2). Samples were taken from the following locations: primary entryway for pesticide applicator, living room,master bedroom, and kitchen. The applicator completed an atrazine handling log and household questionnaire with spouse. Of the 230 dust samples, only 2 were below the level of detection, 2 ng of atrazine per gram (ng/g) of fine dust (dust particle size 5-150 μm). Dust levels were standardized to chemical loading. During application season the entryway (2.68 ng/cm 2) and kitchen (0.47 ng/cm 2) had the highest geometric mean atrazine chemical loading. The entryway chemical loading during Visit 2 was the second highest aggregate (0.55 ng/cm 2). Aggregate concentrations were significantly higher at Visit 1 compared with Visit 2 when paired by location (p≤0.02). Analysis showed that job (application, mixing/loading, or both) was not associated with in-home atrazine contamination. Linear regression showed a strong positive association between atrazine handling (number of acres applied with atrazine, number of days atrazine handled, and pounds of atrazine handled) and aggregate dust chemical loading from both visits (p=0.06, 0.03, and 0.10, respectively). Frequency of vacuuming was inversely associated with Visit 2 concentrations (p = 0.10) and showed a weaker association with Visit 1 (p = 0.30). Removing shoes outside the home was associated with lower atrazine chemical loading (p = 0.03), and applicators changing work clothes in the master bedroom had significantly increased atrazine chemical loading in master bedrooms (p = 0.01). Changes in hygiene practices for commercial pesticide applicators could significantly reduce atrazine and, likely, other pesticide contaminations in the home.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-297
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
W e are grateful to Dr. Charles Lynch and the Agricul-tural Health Study for their initial help in recruiting participants. We would like to thank Donna Vosburgh and Kevin L. Dunn for assisting in carrying out field surveys. This research was supported by a pilot project research training grant from the Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Iowa. The Heartland Center, an Education and Research Center, is supported by Training Grant No. T42OH008491 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


  • Atrazine
  • Commercial applicator
  • Herbicide
  • Iowa
  • Pesticide
  • Take-home exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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