Pesticide exposure of residents living close to agricultural fields in the netherlands: Protocol for an observational study

Daniel M. Figueiredo*, Esmeralda J.M. Krop, Jan Duyzer, Rianda M. Gerritsen-Ebben, Yvonne M. Gooijer, Henk J. Holterman, Anke Huss, Cor M.J. Jacobs, Carla M. Kivits, Roel Kruijne, Hans J.G.J. Mol, Arné Oerlemans, Pieter J.J. Sauer, Paul T.J. Scheepers, Jan C. van de Zande, Erik van den Berg, Marcel Wenneker, Roel C.H. Vermeulen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Application of pesticides in the vicinity of homes has caused concern regarding possible health effects in residents living nearby. However, the high spatiotemporal variation of pesticide levels and lack of knowledge regarding the contribution of exposure routes greatly complicates exposure assessment approaches. Objective: The objective of this paper was to describe the study protocol of a large exposure survey in the Netherlands assessing pesticide exposure of residents living close (<250 m) to agricultural fields; to better understand possible routes of exposure; to develop an integrative exposure model for residential exposure; and to describe lessons learned. Methods: We performed an observational study involving residents living in the vicinity of agricultural fields and residents living more than 500 m away from any agricultural fields (control subjects). Residential exposures were measured both during a pesticide use period after a specific application and during the nonuse period for 7 and 2 days, respectively. We collected environmental samples (outdoor and indoor air, dust, and garden and field soils) and personal samples (urine and hand wipes). We also collected data on spraying applications as well as on home characteristics, participants' demographics, and food habits via questionnaires and diaries. Environmental samples were analyzed for 46 prioritized pesticides. Urine samples were analyzed for biomarkers of a subset of 5 pesticides. Alongside the field study, and by taking spray events and environmental data into account, we developed a modeling framework to estimate environmental exposure of residents to pesticides. Results: Our study was conducted between 2016 and 2019. We assessed 96 homes and 192 participants, including 7 growers and 28 control subjects. We followed 14 pesticide applications, applying 20 active ingredients. We collected 4416 samples: 1018 air, 445 dust (224 vacuumed floor, 221 doormat), 265 soil (238 garden, 27 fields), 2485 urine, 112 hand wipes, and 91 tank mixtures. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study on residents' exposure to pesticides addressing all major nondietary exposure sources and routes (air, soil, dust). Our protocol provides insights on used sampling techniques, the wealth of data collected, developed methods, modeling framework, and lessons learned. Resources and data are open for future collaborations on this important topic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere27883
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2021


  • Agriculture
  • Biomonitoring
  • Environmental samples
  • Modeling
  • Pesticide exposure assessment
  • Pesticides
  • Residents


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