Migrant farmworkers’ exposure to pesticides in Sonora, Mexico

Nicolás López-Gálvez, Rietta Wagoner, Paloma Beamer, Jill de Zapien, Cecilia Rosales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Expanding agribusiness in Sonora, a state in Northern Mexico, has increased the demand for temporary migrant agricultural workers. Sonora is one of the top states in Mexico for pesticide utilization. We conducted an exploratory study to evaluate exposure to organophosphate (OP) and pyrethroid pesticides among migrant farmworkers. A sample of 20 migrant farmworkers was recruited from a large commercial grape farm during the harvest season. We administered a questionnaire on work activities, exposure characteristics, and socio-demographics. We collected urine samples to quantify pesticide metabolite concentrations. Most participants were originally from the state of Chiapas, Mexico, none had completed high school, and about half spoke an indigenous language as well as Spanish. The majority of participants had detectable concentrations of pyrethroid and organophosphate biomarkers. Geometric mean creatinine-adjusted concentrations for 3-phenoxybenzoic acid (1.83 µg/g), trans-3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropane carboxylic acid (0.88 µg/g), 4-fluoro-3-phenoxybenzoic acid (0.94 µg/g), 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (3.56 µg/g), and para-nitrophenol (0.63 µg/g) were significantly higher than in the general United States’ population and Mexican Americans. Our results also suggest that migrant farmworkers in this region are exposed to pesticides at higher levels than other farmworkers’ studies. Farmworkers’ age, language, training on personal protective equipment, time at the farm, and season, were significant exposure determinants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2651
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Farmworkers
  • Occupational health
  • Organophosphates
  • Pesticide biomarkers
  • Pyrethroids
  • Urine metabolites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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