Exposure duration and absorbed dose assessment in pesticide-exposed agricultural workers: Implications for risk assessment and modeling

Stefan Mandic-Rajcevic, Federico Maria Rubino, Eugenio Ariano, Danilo Cottica, Sara Negri, Claudio Colosio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Absorbed dose assessment from dermal exposure involves multiplying skin contamination by the dermal absorption coefficient, which is usually defined for the standard workday of 8 h. This strategy may suffer from limitations when the duration of exposure is extremely variable, such as in agricultural exposure to pesticides.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to estimate the dose of mancozeb absorbed by agricultural pesticide applicators in a typical working day considering the real duration of exposure, to compare these estimates with those coming from the use of the Fixed Fractional Approach, and to assess the suitability of the dose estimates in the interpretation of biological monitoring results.

METHODS: In a series of real-life field studies on 29 workers applying mancozeb in vineyards for 38 work days, three sets of data were collected: information regarding work activities for each work day, potential (on clothes) and actual skin exposure using the "patch" methodology, and excretion of ethylenethiourea (ETU) in the 24-h pre-exposure and 24-h post-exposure urine samples. The statistical analyses were done using the R Language and Environment for Statistical Computing.

RESULTS: Accounting for the duration of exposure led to a substantial reduction in the absorbed dose estimates, compared to the estimates coming from the Fixed Fractional Approach. In particular, absorbed dose by the body, hands' and total absorbed dose were reduced by 50%, 81%, and 80% respectively. The body dose estimated considering both approaches still correlated better with post-exposure 24-h urine ETU levels than the hands' dose, although more than 90% of the estimated total absorbed dose comes from the hands.

CONCLUSIONS: An accurate estimate of the absorbed dose, carried out considering the real duration of exposure, can result in a higher correlation with a biomarker of occupational exposure, such as urine ETU, or at least yield more accurate results. This can facilitate the interpretation of biological monitoring data in pesticide-exposed agricultural workers despite the absence of biological exposure limits. ETU should be evaluated as a potentially relevant source of exposure due to ethylenebisdithiocarbamates' (EBDCs) degradation in the formulated product or spray mixture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-502
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Ethylenethiourea/metabolism
  • Farmers
  • Fungicides, Industrial
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maneb
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Occupational Exposure/analysis
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Risk Assessment
  • Skin Absorption
  • Zineb


Dive into the research topics of 'Exposure duration and absorbed dose assessment in pesticide-exposed agricultural workers: Implications for risk assessment and modeling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this