234902 Potential health effects related to pesticide use on athletic fields

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 8:30 AM

Robyn Gilden, PhD, RN , Family and Community Health, University of Maryland Baltimore School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD
Children are particularly vulnerable to environmental exposures, especially exposures from pesticides which can include both neurotoxic, reproductive toxic, and carcinogenic ingredients. Children are the prime users of athletic fields and in many instances this use is associated with exposure to herbicides and insecticides. For some children, these exposures can occur almost daily. This presentation will review a first-of-a-kind study that provides an overview of decision-making and field maintenance practices regarding children's athletic fields. This cross-sectional, descriptive study assessed the maintenance practices at 101 athletic fields (N=101) in the six county/city area of central Maryland. Sixty-six fields (65.3%) of 101 reported using some form of pesticides, mainly herbicides (57.4%). Interestingly, the managers of urban and suburban fields were less likely to use pesticides than managers of rural fields. Potential health risks associated with the commonly applied herbicides and insecticides will be reviewed. As environmental health scientists move towards better exposure modeling that takes into account multiple sources of exposures, knowledge of pesticide exposures from such sources as playing fields will be critical. Additionally, there is great need for public health education to appropriately target audiences regarding field maintenance decisions, including parents, school officials, neighbors surrounding athletic fields, and local primary care, emergency care, and public health practitioners. Additionally, local, state, and national policies must be considered regarding the use of potentially harmful chemicals where children play. Changes in pesticide use policies will improve the health of workers, children and other sports participants, and observers, thereby reducing health risks and their associated health care costs, missed work, and school days.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify pertinent background and significance related to pesticide exposure and athletic field maintenance practices. 2. Describe the research methodology for the cross-sectional study. 3. Discuss the results obtained. 4. Explain the implications for policy and education and limitations of findings.

Keywords: Pesticide Exposure, Survey

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a general knowledge of environmental impacts on health, especially related to vulnerable populations like infants, children and unborn babies. I received my doctoral degree for my dissertation focusing on pesticide use on athletic fields. I conducted background literature review on pesticides and their potential health effects and have published articles in nursing journals related to that literature review. I also am an Assistant Professor teaching community health and environmental health for undergraduate nursing students, which includes information on health effects related to pesticides.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.