Online Program

Workplace exposure to fungicides: A reproductive hazard for female farmworkers in central Florida

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Jennifer Runkle, PhD, School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Joan Flocks, JD, College of Law, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Antonio Tovar, PhD, Florida Prevention Research Center, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Eugenia Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida, Apopka, FL
Linda A. McCauley, RN, PhD, FAAN, FAAOHN, School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Background: The fungicide, mancozeb, is metabolized into ethylene thiourea (ETU), a metabolite with known teratogenic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic potential. Associations between reproductive and developmental toxicity and exposure to mancozeb have been observed in mouse models, yet, few studies have documented levels of ETU among female farmworkers of child-bearing age occupationally exposed to this fungicide. Objective: Measure levels of ETU, a biomarker of mancozeb exposure, among female farmworkers of childbearing age in Central Florida. Method: Single void (spot) urine samples were collected from a random sample of 100 female participants age 18-40 stratified across nursery and fernery industries. We also included urine samples from a similar non-agricultural control group of 30 women. Urine samples were analyzed for ETU and compared to self-reported beliefs on risk of pesticide exposure. Results: Mean ETU levels were significantly higher among participants from Apopka nurseries (GM = 5.69 ug/g Cr ) and controls from Apopka (GM = 1.69 ug/g Cr) when compared to participants from Pierson (Fernery workers GM = 1.90 ug/g Cr, controls = 8.21; p<.001). Mean ETU levels were significantly higher in nursery workers who reported never being exposed to pesticides (GM= 8.72 ug/g Cr) compared to nursery workers who reported everyday exposure (GM=8.61 ug/g Cr) (p<.05). Conclusion: ETU levels in this subsample of female farmworkers were especially perplexing when compared to non-detect levels of ETU in other nationally representative women and Mexican Americans reported in NHANES. More research is needed to characterize mancozeb as a reproductive hazard in farmworker populations.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate mancozeb as a reproductive hazard in female farmworker populations.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a postdoctoral fellow in Epidemiology, I have worked on federally funded grants in the area of occupational health and safety, exposure science and environmental health. My previous worked included peer-reviewed publications in environmental health as well as cancer research.
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.