Sithembiso Sifiso Msibi1,2, Chung-Yu Chen3, Cheng-Ping Chang3, Chiou-Jong Chen3, Su-Yin Chiang This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.4, Kuen-Yuh Wu This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1,5

1 Institute of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10055, Taiwan
2 Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Eswatini, Kwaluseni, Eswatini
3 Department of Occupational Safety and Health, College of Health Sciences, Chang Jung Christian University, Tainan 71101, Taiwan
4 School of Chinese Medicine, College of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
5 Institute of Food Safety and Health, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10055, Taiwan

Received: March 22, 2021
Revised: May 10, 2021
Accepted: June 9, 2021

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

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Msibi, S.S., Chen, C.Y., Chang, C.P., Chen, C.J., Chiang, S.Y., Wu, K.Y. (2021). Indoor Air Exposure to Multiple Agricultural Pesticides Potentially Posing the Highest Risk to Young Children. Aerosol Air Qual. Res.


  • Four pesticides were analyzed in indoor air samples from households near farmlands.
  • Higher levels of pesticides in applicator households suggest secondary exposure.
  • Young children are at the highest risk of inhalation exposure to pesticides.


Agricultural production is a critical economic activity in many African countries, where pesticides are used extensively to improve crop yield and quality. Potential health effects resulting from indoor exposure to agricultural pesticides are very concerning and children are particularly vulnerable. This case study examined indoor exposure to and risks from agricultural pesticides. Indoor air samples were collected on spraying days from households of 15 pesticide applicators and 12 non-applicators in communities close to (~200 m) and surrounded by sugarcane fields in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Southern Africa. Liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis of samples revealed mean concentrations of 0.75, 0.32, 0.57 and 0.004 µg m-3 for ametryn, atrazine, pendimethalin and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), respectively, in the applicator households and corresponding concentrations of 0.19, 0.03, 0.04 and 0.003 µg m-3, respectively, in the non-applicator households. Notably, the indoor pesticide concentrations in the non-applicator households greatly exceed those in published data, and the ametryn and pendimethalin levels in the applicator households are significantly greater than those in non-applicator households. Daily inhalation exposures to these pesticides resulted in Hazard Index 95th percentile values greater than 1.0 among children aged 3 years and younger in the applicator households. Thus, the take-home pathway, spray drift, and household-to-field distance are important factors associated with indoor pesticide exposure and health risks, and the take-home pathway is the most important. Applicators are advised to shower and change into clean clothes before returning home to their families. This advice is critical for the many families living near agricultural land throughout Africa.

Keywords: Pesticides, Indoor air, Inhalation exposure, Health risk, Eswatini

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