Objectives: Exposure assessment to a single pesticide does not capture the complexity of the occupational exposure. Recently, pesticide use patterns analysis has emerged as an alternative to study these exposures. The aim of this study is to identify the pesticide use pattern among flower growers in Mexico participating in the study on the endocrine and reproductive effects associated with pesticide exposure.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out to gather retrospective information on pesticide use applying a questionnaire to the person in charge of the participating flower growing farms. Information about seasonal frequency of pesticide use (rains and dry) for the years 2004 and 2005 was obtained. Principal components analysis was performed.
Results: Complete information was obtained for 88 farms and 23 pesticides were included in the analysis. Six principal components were selected, which explained more than 70% of the data variability. The identified pesticide use patterns during both years were: 1) fungicides benomyl, carbendazim, thiophanate and metalaxyl (both seasons), including triadimephon during the rainy season, chlorotalonyl and insecticide permethrin during the dry season; 2) insecticides oxamyl, biphenthrin and fungicide iprodione (both seasons), including insecticide methomyl during the dry season; 3) fungicide mancozeb and herbicide glyphosate (only during the rainy season); 4) insecticides metamidophos and parathion (both seasons); 5) insecticides omethoate and methomyl (only rainy season); and 6) insecticides abamectin and carbofuran (only dry season). Some pesticides do not show a clear pattern of seasonal use during the studied years.
Conclusions: The principal component analysis is useful to summarize a large set of exposure variables into smaller groups of exposure patterns, identifying the mixtures of pesticides in the occupational environment that may have an interactive effect on a particular health effect.
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