Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original article
Assessment of long-term and recent pesticide exposure among rural school children in Nicaragua
  1. Teresa Rodríguez1,
  2. Berna van Wendel de Joode2,
  3. Christian H Lindh3,
  4. Marianela Rojas2,
  5. Ingvar Lundberg4,
  6. Catharina Wesseling2
  1. 1Center for Research in Health, Work and Environment (CISTA), National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-León), León, Nicaragua
  2. 2Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances (IRET), Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica
  3. 3Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Lund University, Sweden
  4. 4Medical Sciences Department, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Uppsala University, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Teresa Rodríguez, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Campus Médico, UNAN-León, Edificio C, León, Nicaragua; teresar66{at}


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 μg/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.

  • Pesticide
  • exposure assessment
  • methods
  • children
  • developing country
  • urine biomarkers
  • Nicaragua
  • biological monitoring
  • toxicology
  • cross sectional studies
  • exposure assessment
  • retrospective exposure assessment

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding This study was supported by Sida/SAREC (Swedish International Development Agency) and Formas (Swedish Research Council).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the ethics committee of the Faculty of Medical Sciences of UNAN-León and the regional ethics board of the Medical Faculty, Lund University, Sweden.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.