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How Are Children Exposed to Household Insecticides?

by aseligmann — last modified Jul 25, 2010 12:00 AM
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Activities like playing on carpets, putting toys in the mouth, and relaxing on the couch with a baby bottle are common ways for toddlers and children to spend time. Some of these activities mean that kids are more likely to be exposed to household insecticides than adults. A recent study looked at which children's activities are most closely associated with pesticide exposure and found that the amount of time young children drinking from baby bottles was linked to the amount of pesticides exposure the children received following a household insecticide treatment.


Activities like playing on carpets, putting toys in the mouth, and relaxing on the couch with a baby bottle are common ways for toddlers and children to spend time. Some of these activities mean that kids are more likely to be exposed to household insecticides than adults. A recent study looked at which children's activities are most closely associated with pesticide exposure and found that the amount of time young children drinking from baby bottles was linked to the amount of pesticides exposure the children received following a household insecticide treatment.

How was the study conducted?

Scientists at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (New Jersey) and the National Exposure Research Laboratory (North Carolina) conducted this study. They videotaped ten children between two and five years old. The videotaping was done during the second day after a professional applicator had treated their homes with the insecticide chlorpyrifos in what is called a "crack and crevice" application. The scientists also measured the amount of pesticide on the children's hands. They then looked to see which of the videotaped activities were correlated with the amount of insecticide on the children's hands.

What did the review find?

The study found that children who spent time doing three types of activities, putting objects in the mouth, handling a bottle or other food container, and spending time on upholstered furniture or other textured surfaces, had the most insecticide on their hands. The three types of activities often occur together: children commonly spend time watching television in their living rooms in contact with upholstered furniture while they drink a bottle, use a pacifier, or mouth toys.

Study Summary: Freeman, N.C.G. et al. 2005. Contributions of children's activities to pesticide hand loadings following residential pesticide application. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 15:81-88.