Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Raymond D. Harbison, M.S., Ph.D.

Committee Member

James McCluskey, M.D., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steve Morris, M.D., R.N.

Committee Member

Debra Price, Ph.D., MSPH


Background, Children, Organophsophate, Pyrethroid, Residential


Pesticide use in the United States continues to attract negative public attention. In recent years, this attention has focused on the effects that chronic, low-level pesticides may have, especially on children and various sub-populations. Over the past decade, studies have attempted to correlate negative health effects with detections of pesticide biomarkers in biological media. The current research investigates biomarker of exposure levels in a sample of the United States population. Data from the 2001-2002 NHANES dataset (n=11,039) was evaluated. The detection frequency of urinary biomarkers of exposure and the geometric mean from the NHANES pesticide dataset (n=3,152) were determined. Of the 18 specific pesticide biomarkers, three were detected in more than 50% of the sample: 79% had a detectable level of 3,5,6-trichloropyridinol, a biomarker of chlorpyrifos, with a geometric mean of 2.07 µg/L (C.I: 1.98-2.17); 53% had a detectable level of paranitrophenol, a biomarker of methyl parathion, with a geometric mean of 0.367 µg/L (C.I.: 0.346-0.389); and 77% had a detectable level of 3-phenoxybenzoic acid, a biomarker of permethrin, with a geometric mean of 0.336 µg/L (C.I.: 0.320-0.352). These levels fall within the range of other epidemiological and biomonitoring studies investigating background levels of biomarkers in the general population. The association between the detection of a biomarker and variations in mean height and weight of children aged 6-11 was evaluated. No significant results were found when evaluating these differences for 3,5,6-trichloropyridinol exposure. Paranitrophenol associated with shorter children at age 8 [Non-Detect=134.3 cm and Detect: 130.9 cm (p=0.046)] and taller children at age 11 [Detect=153.7 cm and Non-Detect=149.9 cm (p=0.022)]. Heavier children associated with 3-Phenoxybenzoic Acid at age 7: [Detect=28.61 kg and Non-Detect=25.26 kg (p=0.009)]. Clinical chemistry biochemical concentration comparisons were made between individuals that had a detectable level of the biomarker in urine and those that did not. Two biochemicals had a significant difference across all three biomarkers: cholesterol and sodium. The biochemical levels with significant difference between detects and non-detects for the biomarkers were not elevated above clinical reference values. Overall, there is insufficient evidence to suggest a relationship between background pesticide exposures in this sample and negative health effects.