Objective This study assessed pesticide exposure of children in rural Nicaragua in relation to parental pesticide use, from around conception to current school age, as part of an epidemiological evaluation of neurodevelopment effects. Methods We included 132 children whose parents were subsistence farmers or plantation workers, or had an agricultural history. As proxies for children's long-term exposures, we constructed cumulative parental pesticide-specific use indices for periods before and after the child's birth from data obtained using an icon-calendar-based questionnaire, of application hours (h) for plantation workers and subsistence farmers, and of kilograms of active ingredients (ai) only for subsistence farmers. Pesticide residues of TCPY, 3-PBA and 2,4-D were analysed in children's urine as indicators for current exposures. Results Life-time indices were highest for the organophosphates chlorpyrifos (median 114 h (min 2; max 1584), 19.2 kg ai (min 0.37; max 548)) and methamidophos (84 h (6; 1964), 12.2 kg ai (0.30; 780)). The P50 values of children's urinary residues were 3.7 mu g/g creatinine for TCPY, 2.8 for 3-PBA and 0.9 for 2,4-D; TCPY values are comparable with those in other countries, but 3-PBA and 2,4-D are considerably higher. The maximum levels for all three pesticides are the highest reported for children. Residues increased on days after application, but most high residue levels were unrelated to parental pesticide applications. Conclusion Urinary pesticide residues reveal high environmental exposure among children in rural Nicaragua. The quantitative parental pesticide use indices as proxies for children's exposures during different periods may be useful for the evaluation of developmental health effects.
2012. Vol. 69, no 2, 119-125 p.