Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

2004 Progress Report: Community-Based Participatory Research Project

EPA Grant Number: R831709C003
Subproject: this is subproject number 003 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R831709
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: University of Washington Center for Child Environmental Health Risks Research
Center Director: Faustman, Elaine
Title: Community-Based Participatory Research Project
Investigators: Faustman, Elaine
Institution: University of Washington
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: November 1, 2003 through October 31, 2008 (Extended to October 31, 2010)
Project Period Covered by this Report: November 1, 2003 through October 31, 2004
RFA: Centers for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research (2003) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Health Effects , Health



The objectives of the research project are to:  (1) intervene to reduce children’s exposure to pesticides, including the development of a culturally appropriate intervention to break the take-home pathway; and (2) foster partnerships between academic researchers and the community in which information requested by the community and basic research deficiencies/gaps are translated into studies that address the health needs of both.

Progress Summary:

During the reporting period for this research project, data analysis on the followup survey was being conducted.

We provided training for two minority students.  An undergraduate student was trained and conducted focus groups among warehouse workers to assess their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about the ways they are exposed to pesticides at their jobs.  A Ph.D. student conducted focus groups on perceived stress in farmworkers, developed a stress questionnaire based on focus group results, and conducted validity testing of the questionnaire.

From May 2004 to the present, we worked on establishing new office space for the competitive renewal project.  We hired a field coordinator to speak with people in the Valley to prepare for recruitment of farmworkers for the new study.  We developed project protocols for new participants.  We also began the Institutional Review Board process.

Followup Survey

Findings from the followup survey have not been reported previously and are presented here.  Approximately 93 percent of the study population is of Hispanic ethnicity.  They are far less likely to have received a high school diploma, with 93 percent of Hispanics having 11 or fewer years of education compared to 17 percent of non-Hispanics.  Eighty-eight percent of Hispanics in our survey reported having an income of $25,000 or less, compared to 23 percent of the non-Hispanic respondents.

Nearly 24 percent of respondents reported mixing, loading, or applying pesticides, jobs that are thought to pose a high risk of exposure to pesticides, and more than 8 percent reported early reentry into a recently sprayed field.  Almost 75 percent of workers who mixed, loaded, or applied pesticides reported that protective equipment was required by the pesticide label, supplied by their employer, and worn by them.  Nearly 40 percent of workers who reentered recently treated fields reported that protective equipment was required by the pesticide label, and 45 percent reported that the equipment was supplied by their employer.  The percentage of workers who reported using protective equipment the last time they reentered a recently treated field was lower, however, than the percentage who reported it being required or supplied.

The most commonly reported health conditions were headaches, burning eyes, and muscle and joint pain.

There have been some significant improvements in protective practices by workers, both in the workplace and at home, when comparing baseline and final survey data.  This is the case in both intervention and control communities.  There is less difference in behavior change when comparing the intervention and control communities.  This could result from contamination of the control communities because of the mobility of the population or increased educational activities in the area by other organizations.  We are analyzing process data to determine the extent to which contamination occurred.

Our own studies have substantiated the theory of a take-home pathway of pesticides.  Further, children are exposed to this pathway.

Warehouse Worker Focus Groups

Twenty-eight warehouse workers participated in focus groups to assess their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about the ways they are exposed to pesticides.  We found that participants believed that they were exposed to harmful chemicals in their working environment; that they believed pesticide exposure in warehouses was a health problem, with the most common symptoms mentioned being rashes, dizziness, burning eyes, and itchy skin; that many of them were concerned about their children’s exposure to pesticides; and that they had little knowledge about protective practices to reduce their exposure.  We will address this area in more depth in our competitive renewal.

Stress Focus Groups and Questionnaire Validity Testing

Sixty-seven farmworkers participated in focus groups on the types of issues that cause farmworkers stress.  Results from focus groups indicated that some sources of stress in the population include feelings of sadness caused by separation from family in Mexico; not having enough money to pay bills; not being able to find consistent work; discrimination during work; not having a place to leave young children during work; and not having the ability to speak English.

Thirty farmworkers participated in the validity testing of the investigator-developed stress scale, which addressed six major areas of stress:  work-related stress, impulsive/addictive behavior, immigration stress, acculturative stress, economic stress, and depression/anxiety.  Each farmworker was interviewed two times for test-retest reliability.  Interitem reliability correlations for the investigator-developed scale were 0.8770 and 0.9004, showing good internal consistency using Cronbach’s alpha measurement.  Test-retest coefficients from Pearson’s correlation also were strong (r = 0.8344, p = 0.0000).

The investigator-developed stress scale was tested using comparisons with the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I General Well-Being Schedule (short version) (GWBS), created by the National Department of Health, Education and Welfare of the National Center for Health Statistics.  Cronbach’s alpha measurements for the GWBS were not as strong as the investigator-developed scale, indicating values of 0.8271 and 0.8242.  Test-retest correlations for the GWBS also were less strong, showing negative, nonsignificant results (r = -0.0243, p = 0.8985).  This lack of correlation presented an initial obstacle for validation of the investigator-developed scale with a known reliable measure appropriate for the study population.  The GWBS, however, is made up of four subscales:  psychological distress, well-being, general health, and vitality.  The scores for these subscales were calculated for each farmworker and correlated with the total score for the investigator-developed scale, indicating significant correlations for the psychological distress subscale for both interviews, and with the well-being and vitality subscales for the second interview.  Test-retest correlations for the GWBS also improved when measuring the four distinct subscales.

Saliva also was collected as part of the pilot investigation to test the ease, feasibility, and cultural acceptance of collection methods hormone recovery within the study population.  Samples were obtained from each participant twice (after each interview) using a convenient sampling device called a “Salivette.”  Adequate amounts of saliva were obtained from each participant using this method, and there were no difficulties in collecting the samples.

Amy Snipes, the Ph.D. student conducting the stress project, received an award from the Association of Schools of Public Health and from the National Science Foundation to continue her research.


Perhaps the most significant achievements are two-fold.  First, we provided empirical support for the take-home pathway of pesticides to the children of farmworkers; second, we demonstrated that the urinary metabolites of pesticides among children were associated directly with urinary metabolites of the farmworker in the household.

Another innovative achievement was the ability and practice of providing accurate scientific data to farmworkers and growers in the Valley.  This led to numerous opportunities to address media throughout the state and country.

This is one of the largest studies conducted with farmworkers and pesticide exposure that provides data from biomarkers, as well as from survey information.

Future Activities:

For the next year, we will recruit the farmworker households to participate in the competitive renewal and obtain urine, dust, and blood to understand more accurately the effects of various spray and nonspray seasons.

We have received a supplement to the proposal from a private donor to collect blood samples from adult farmworkers.  The blood will be collected by a clinic in the Valley and sent to Dr. Dana Barr’s laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for analysis.

Journal Articles on this Report : 4 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other subproject views: All 14 publications 10 publications in selected types All 10 journal articles
Other center views: All 175 publications 127 publications in selected types All 107 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Coronado GD, Thompson B, Strong L, Griffith WC, Islas I. Agricultural task and exposure to organophosphate pesticides among farmworkers. Environmental Health Perspectives 2004;112(2):142-147. R831709 (2005)
R831709 (2007)
R831709C003 (2004)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Journal Article Koo B, Gaydos TM, Pandis SN. Evaluation of the equilibrium, dynamic, and hybrid aerosol modeling approaches. Aerosol Science and Technology 2003;37(1):53-64. R831709 (2007)
    R831709C003 (2004)
    R826371 (Final)
    R826371C005 (Final)
  • Full-text: Taylor&Francis-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: Taylor&Francis-Abstract
  • Journal Article Strong LL, Thompson B, Coronado GD, Griffith WC, Vigoren EM, Islas I. Health symptoms and exposure to organophosphate pesticides in farmworkers. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2004;46(6):599-606. R831709 (2005)
    R831709 (2007)
    R831709C003 (2004)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Abstract: Wiley Online-Abstract
  • Journal Article Thompson B, Coronado GD, Grossman JE, Puschel K, Solomon CC, Islas I, Curl CL, Shirai JH, Kissel JC, Fenske RA. Pesticide take-home pathway among children of agricultural workers: study design, methods, and baseline findings. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2003;45(1):42-53. R831709 (2005)
    R831709 (2007)
    R831709C003 (2004)
    R826886 (2000)
    R826886C003 (2002)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Abstract: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    children’s health, epidemiology, genetics, health risk assessment, risk assessment, assessment of exposure, asthma, children’s environmental health, diesel exhaust, environmental risks, exposure assessment, genetic mechanisms, genetic risk factors, genetic susceptibility, maternal exposure, nutritional risk factors,, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Biochemistry, Children's Health, Risk Assessment, health effects, pesticide exposure, environmental health, community-based intervention, developmental neurotoxicity, environmental risks, biological response, Human Health Risk Assessment, children's vulnerablity, assessment of exposure

    Relevant Websites: Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:
    Original Abstract
    2005 Progress Report
    2006 Progress Report
    2007 Progress Report

    Main Center Abstract and Reports:
    R831709    University of Washington Center for Child Environmental Health Risks Research

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R831709C001 Molecular Mechanisms of Pesticide-Induced Developmental Toxicity
    R831709C002 Genetic Susceptibility to Pesticides
    R831709C003 Community-Based Participatory Research Project
    R831709C004 Pesticide Exposure Pathways Research Project