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Pesticide Trade Names and Their Active Ingredients in the Ahs

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Abstract: The detailed information on the use of specific pesticides is a major strength of exposure assessment conducted for the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). During the enrollment interviews, a check list was used to collect information on the frequency and duration of use for 28 pesticides. The same information on an additional 22 pesticides was also collected for a subset of applicators. During Phase II of the AHS, computer-aided telephone interviews (CATI) were conducted with over 32,000 applicators. Each applicator was asked to report the names of all pesticides that they personally applied to crops, to animals, and applied for non-crop applications, such as treatment of fence rows and buildings. Using an open-ended response format, over 4200 unique pesticide names were reported and entered verbatim into a computer database. These verbatim responses included a mix of pesticide trade names, common names, technical or chemical names, or in some cases, general names or descriptions of the pesticides used. Pesticides with different trade names may contain the same active ingredients, and conversely, pesticides with similar trade names may contain completely different active ingredients. Also, many pesticides contain several active ingredients. The standardization of these pesticide names was necessary to identify their active ingredients, however, the large number of different pesticide names reported by the applicators created a major challenge.

The Pesticide Product Information System (PPIS) is a large database maintained by the US EPA Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) of all pesticide products registered in the United States. The database includes information on product names, distributor brand names, chemical ingredients, toxicity category, site/pest uses, pesticide type, formulation code, and registration status. Every active ingredient in list of pesticide in the PPIS is assigned a PC Code. Since many active ingredients may have more than one chemical name or synonym, the PC Code serves as a unique identifier to link product trade names with a specific active ingredient. The PPIS was used as a reference source to identify the active ingredients based on the product trade names. In addition to the PPIS, the 2003 Crop Protection Handbook (CPH), formerly known as the Farm Chemicals Handbook, was used to identify commercially available pesticide product trade names along with their active ingredients.

During the CATI interview, the applicator was asked to report all pesticides applied by crop, by animal and by non-crop applications, and therefore, the same pesticide name could be mentioned multiple times by the same applicator. The first step in the standardization process was to generate a list of every unique verbatim name reported by all the applicators, along with the total number of times the verbatim name was reported. The verbatim pesticide names were then cross referenced with the product trade names listed in either the PPIS or the CPH. In some cases, the verbatim name matched exactly with a recognized trade name. In other cases, it was necessary to standardize minor differences in the spelling, punctuation, formulation suffix, or the manufacturer's name in the verbatim pesticide name to match a specific recognized trade name, and a set of codes were used to identify verbatim responses that required standardization.

For some responses, the pesticide name was too general to be matched with a specific recognized product trade name, in which case, it was sometimes possible to identify the type of pesticide (i.e. insecticide vs. herbicide), but not the active ingredients. The verbatim list also included responses such as "don't recall" or "unknown insecticide", as well as substances other than pesticides such as diesel fuel or fertilizers.

Each verbatim pesticide names was linked with a standard pesticide name, which in turn was linked with up to four PC codes corresponding to the active ingredients listed in the EPA PPIS database or the CPH. When no match with a recognized trade name was possible, then the verbatim name was coded as an unknown pesticide. A preliminary analysis of the pesticide names from the Phase II interviews identified a total of 364 unique active ingredients. Based on frequency of occurrence, active ingredients were identified for 95% of the pesticides applied to crops (324 PC codes), 96% of non-crop pesticides (249 PC codes) and 93% of animal pesticides (86 PC codes). The five most frequently reported pesticide trade names were Round Up, Prowl, Dual, Lorsban and Orthene. The five most common active ingredients based on the frequency of the pesticide trade names were glyphosate, 2,4-D, atrazine, dicamba and malathion.

The standardization of the verbatim pesticide names mentioned by individual applicators can be used to determine which applicators applied pesticides containing one or more specific active ingredients for epidemiologic analyses.

Although this work was reviewed by EPA and approved for publication, it may not necessarily reflect official Agency policy.
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Citation:Coble, J., R. Allen, Y. Ng, S. Nako, B. Suhre, J. A. Hoppin, K. W. Thomas, and C. Hines. Pesticide Trade Names and Their Active Ingredients in the Ahs. Presented at AHS National Advisory Panel Meeting, Bethesda, MD, February 26-27, 2004.
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Contact: Liz Hope - (919) 541-2785 or hope.elizabeth@epa.gov
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Division: Human Exposure & Atmospheric Sciences Division
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Branch: Exposure Measurements & Analysis Branch
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Product Type: Abstrct/Oral
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Presented: 02/26/2004
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