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An evaluation of metrics for assessing maternal exposure to agricultural pesticides.

Abstract

We evaluate the use of three different exposure metrics to estimate maternal agricultural pesticide exposure during pregnancy. Using a geographic information system-based method of pesticide exposure estimation, we combine data on crop density and specific pesticide application amounts/dates to create the three exposure metrics. For illustration purposes, we create each metric for a North Carolina cohort of pregnant women, 2003-2005, and analyze the risk of congenital anomaly development with a focus on metric comparisons. Based on the results, and the need to balance data collection efforts/computational efficiency with accuracy, the metric which estimates total chemical exposure using application dates based on crop-specific earliest planting and latest harvesting information is preferred. Benefits and drawbacks of each metric are discussed and recommendations for extending the analysis to other states are provided.

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