To assess the exposure response relation of pyrethroids in spraymen, 50 adult male cotton growers were selected and divided into three groups, one group to spray pyrethroids for one day, two groups to spray for three days. Deltamethrin, fenvalerate, and a deltamethrin methamidophos mixture were sprayed by appropriate subgroups for five hours a day. Exposure levels were evaluated by measuring the air concentration, dermal exposure concentration, and urinary content of pyrethroids by gas chromatography. Air concentrations of deltamethrin at the breathing zone were 0.01-0.89 microgram/m3 in the deltamethrin exposed group. For fenvalerate, air concentrations were 0.06-1.98 micrograms/m3. Dermal exposure, particularly on the legs, feet, and hands was appreciable and indicated that this was the main route of absorption. In those spraying for one day, urinary deltamethrin was not detectable by 12 hours after the beginning of exposure whereas fenvalerate was still detectable up to 24 hours after first exposure. Both pyrethroids could be detected two days after the end of three day spraying. Health effects were investigated by interview and physical examination. Twenty nine spraymen complained of abnormal facial sensations that developed mostly two to three hours from the start of pyrethroid spraying and that disappeared by 24 hours after exposure ceased. Some had dizziness, headache, and nausea, but no subject was diagnosed as having acute pyrethroid poisoning. The symptoms showed no significant correlation with urinary pyrethroid excretion. Blood cholinesterase activity of spraymen using the pyrethroid methamidophos mixture did not change.
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