Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Early-life Pesticide Exposure Associated With Reduced Breathing Capacity

Brenda Eskenazi, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley

Children with higher levels of organophosphate metabolites in their urine were more likely to have decreased lung function, according to an NIEHS-funded study of children in California. The metabolites measured were products of organophosphate pesticides, which are heavily used in agriculture. The findings are the first to link low-level childhood exposures to organophosphate pesticides to lung health in children.

The children in the study were part of the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS), a long-term study in which the researchers follow children in California’s Salinas Valley from before birth to adolescence.

Researchers collected urine samples five times, between 6 months and 5 years of age, and measured levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites each time. At age 7, the children were given a spirometry test, which evaluates lung function by measuring the amount of air exhaled.

Each tenfold increase in organophosphate metabolite concentrations in the children’s urine was associated with a 159-millimeter decrease in lung function, or an average of about eight percent less air exhaled. This decreased lung function level is similar to the effects experienced by a child with secondhand smoke exposure in the household.

Citation: Raanan R, Balmes JR, Harley KG, Gunier RB, Magzamen S, Bradman A, Eskenazi B. 2015. Decreased lung function in 7-year-old children with early-life organophosphate exposure. Thorax; doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2014-206622 [Online 3 December 2015].

to Top