Office of Border Health

Border Household Pesticide Studies

Very little is known about the health effects of childhood exposure to household pesticides. This survey was conducted to identify what pesticides are being used in the home, where they are being used and stored, and what methods are being used for their disposal.

The purpose of this study was to develop an inventory and description of household pesticide use in a community on the U.S. Mexico border, and to examine potential rules of exposure for young children living in those homes.

In Spring 1999, we conducted a survey in a border community in Arizona. To be eligible to participate in the survey, households had to have used a pesticide in the six months prior to the survey and to have at least one child under the age of ten. We gathered general information on pesticide usage, storage, and disposal, in addition to specific information about each of the pesticides currently being used and/or stored in the home.

We found 148 pesticide products in the 107 households surveyed. Half of the pesticides were stored less then four feet from the ground, at a level a child could reach. Seventy percent of all the pesticides were stored inside the home, with the kitchen being the most mentioned storage room. The kitchen was also the room where most of the pesticides were used, with 69% of the respondents saying they had used at least one pesticide there.

It will be important to continue to investigate all avenues of pesticide exposure in order to fully evaluate childhood exposures. Understanding household pesticide use and developing a model of exposure will help in the process. Profiles of the use, storage, and disposal of products will also guide the development of effective education and poison prevention programs in the community.

For more information or data on this project, contact our office.