Effect of Organic Diet Intervention on Pesticide Exposures in Young Children Living in Low-Income Urban and Agricultural Communities
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Background: Recent organic diet intervention studies suggest that diet is a significant source of pesticide exposure in young children. These studies have focused on children living in suburban communities.
Objectives: We aimed to determine whether consuming an organic diet reduced urinary pesticide metabolite concentrations in 40 Mexican-American children, 3–6 years of age, living in California urban and agricultural communities.
Methods: In 2006, we collected urine samples over 16 consecutive days from children who consumed conventionally grown food for 4 days, organic food for 7 days, and then conventionally grown food for 5 days. We measured 23 metabolites, reflecting potential exposure to organophosphorous (OP), pyrethroid, and other pesticides used in homes and agriculture. We used linear mixed-effects models to evaluate the effects of diet on urinary metabolite concentrations.
Results: For six metabolites with detection frequencies > 50%, adjusted geometric mean concentrations during the organic phase were generally lower for all children, and were significant for total dialkylphosphates (DAPs) and dimethyl DAPs (DMs; metabolites of OP insecticides) and 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, a herbicide), with reductions of 40%, 49%, and 25%, respectively (p < 0.01). Chemical-specific metabolite concentrations for several OP pesticides, pyrethroids, and herbicides were either infrequently detected and/or not significantly affected by diet. Concentrations for most of the frequently detected metabolites were generally higher in Salinas compared with Oakland children, with DMs and metolachlor at or near significance (p = 0.06 and 0.03, respectively).
Conclusion: An organic diet was significantly associated with reduced urinary concentrations of nonspecific dimethyl OP insecticide metabolites and the herbicide 2,4-D in children. Additional research is needed to clarify the relative importance of dietary and non-dietary sources of pesticide exposures to young children.