Exposure to heavy metals due to pesticide use by vineyard farmers
Objectives To statistically analyze serum heavy metal levels in biological samples obtained from vineyard workers from southern Brazil and check for heavy metal exposure due to pesticide use.
Methods Serum samples were obtained from 54 farmers and 108 healthy unexposed individuals. Samples from the same farmers were obtained at three different time points over a 1-year period. Levels of lead, arsenic, nickel, zinc, manganese and copper were determined for each sample using dynamic reaction cell inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (DRC-ICP-MS). All results were statistically analyzed using the nonparametric Kruskal–Wallis test (followed by Dunn’s post hoc test).
Results Results showed that serum heavy metal levels in farmers were twofold to fourfold higher than in controls. This difference was found for all heavy metals tested and was significant (p < 0.05). Serum metal levels among the farmers also correlated with the frequency of use of pesticides at a specific time of year, which varied according to seasonal conditions influencing the need for pesticide application.
Conclusions It can be concluded that in the vineyard region assessed, farmers were more susceptible to heavy metal exposure due to pesticide use.