BACKGROUND: Increasing use of pesticides in agriculture to control pest may result in permanent damage to the environment and consequently cause harmful health problems especially among infant and children. Due to pesticide's natural toxicity and its widespread use, it causes a serious threat to public health especially to this vulnerable group.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine the organophosphorus pesticide urinary metabolite levels and its predictors among Orang Asli children of the Mah Meri tribe living in an agricultural island in Kuala Langat, Selangor.
METHODS: Data collection was carried out at an island in Kuala Langat, Selangor, where a total of 180 Orang Asli children of the Mah Meri tribe voluntarily participated in the study. Data were collected via a validated, modified questionnaire. Urinary organophosphate metabolites, namely dimethylphosphate, diethylphosphate, dimethylthiophosphate, dimethyldithiophosphate, diethylthiophosphate, and diethyldithiophosphate were measured to assess organophosphate pesticide exposure in children.
FINDINGS: Eighty-four (46.7%) of the respondents were positive for urine dialkyl phosphate metabolites. In multivariable analysis, children who frequently consumed apples had 4 times higher risk of pesticide detection than those who consumed apple less frequently. In addition, those who frequently ate cucumbers had 4 times higher risk for pesticide detection than those who ate cucumbers less frequently. Children with a father whose occupation involved high exposure to pesticides (agriculture) had 3 times higher risk of pesticide detection than those with a father in a low-risk occupation (nonagriculture).
CONCLUSIONS: Almost half of the children (46.7%) in the study area tested positive for urinary dialkyl phosphate metabolite levels. Most of the metabolite levels were equal to or higher than that reported in other previous studies. Major factors associated with pesticide detection in children in this study were frequent intake of apple and cucumber and fathers who are working in an agricultural area.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.