Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Population-Based Biomonitoring of Exposure to Organophosphate and Pyrethroid Pesticides in New York City

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Population-Based Biomonitoring of Exposure to Organophosphate and Pyrethroid Pesticides in New York City

Article excerpt


In New York City (NYC), building density and disrepair increase the likelihood of pest infestations, which can lead to a reliance on indoor use of insecticidal chemicals. By the 1980s, organophosphates were the most common class of insecticides used in the United States, having largely replaced persistent organochlorine products [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2004, 2011]. Organophosphates were used indoors in NYC until around 2000-2001, when structural pest control practice began shifting toward greater use of pyrethroid products [Horton et al. 2011; New York State (NYS) Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health (DOH) 2011].

Both organophosphates and pyrethroids work by disrupting an insect's nervous system. Organophosphates inhibit acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Pyrethroids disrupt voltage-sensitive sodium channels in nerve cell membranes, similar to some older-generation organochlorine insecticides (Coats 1990; Shafer et al. 2005). Organophosphates are acutely toxic at high doses, and both occupational and nonoccupational exposures have been associated with adverse reproductive and neurodevelopmental outcomes in epidemiological studies (Hanke and Jurewicz 2004; Koureas et al. 2012). Although epidemiol ogical studies of pyrethroids are fewer and less consistent than those of organophosphates, the combined human and animal literature suggests that pyrethroid exposures may also adversely affect the reproductive system and developing nervous system (Hanke and Jurewicz 2004; Koureas et al. 2012; Shafer et al. 2005).

Evidence that organophosphate exposure may be hazardous to a developing child led the U.S. EPA and manufacturers to reach agreement in 2000-2001 to phase out almost all indoor use of two common organophosphate insecticides, chlorpyrifos and diazinon (U.S. EPA 2000, 2001). These two insecticides, along with malathion (which is not registered for indoor residential use), had previously been the most commonly used insecticidal chemicals nationwide (U.S. EPA 2004, 2006). The reported use of organophosphates decreased from about 15% of total commercial insecticide applications in NYC by weight in 1999 to 3% (~7,000 pounds) in 2004, with almost all products being outdoor formulations [NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) 2012; NYS DEC and DOH 2011]. Declines in levels of chlorpyrifos biomarkers were also reported in longitudinal data from a cohort of pregnant women in NYC followed from 2001-2004 (Whyatt et al. 2009).

Organophosphates are still commonly used in agriculture, and they accounted for approximately 40% (46 million pounds) of all insecticide products used nationwide in 2004 (U.S. EPA 2011). Most organophosphates in use today are either dimethyl (e.g., malathion and dimethoate) or diethyl (e.g., chlorpyrifos and diazinon) derivatives, which are enzymatically transformed or spontaneously hydrolyzed to dialkylphosphate (DAP) metabolites (Barr et al. 2004). Products containing pyrethroids are more frequently used in and around dwellings and on pets, and some active ingredients are used in agriculture (Spurlock and Lee 2008). Many pyrethroids are enzymatically transformed into the relatively non-class-specific metabolite 3- phenoxybenzoic acid (3-PBA), and some are also simultaneously transformed into one of several other metabolites, including cis or trans-3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropane carboxylic acid (cis- or trans-DCCA) (e.g., permethrin, cypermethrin) or cis-3-(2,2-dibromovinyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropane carboxylic acid (cis-DBCA) (e.g., deltamethrin). Cyfluthrin is a relatively common pyrethroid that is transformed to 4-fluoro-3-phenoxybenzoic acid (4-F-3PBA) rather than 3-PBA, and simultaneously transformed to cis- or trans-DCCA (Barr 2010). Pyrethroid and organophosphate metabolites are excreted in urine.

Pesticide exposure occurs from dietary and nondietary ingestion, dermal absorption, and inhalation. …

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