Effectiveness of cleaning practices in removing pesticides from home environments

Linda A. McCauley, Rachelle Travers, Michael Lasarev, Juan Muniz, Regina Nailon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The deposition of agricultural pesticides in the homes of agricultural workers and residents of agricultural communities is a major environmental health concern. The effectiveness of home cleaning activities in removing pesticides from home surfaces has not been tested. An intervention study was conducted to assess the effectiveness of cleaning windowsills, floors and carpets in a sample of 10 farmworker homes. Baseline measures of organophosphorus (OP) pesticide residues were obtained, a standardized cleaning intervention was applied and follow-up measures of pesticide residues were obtained within 24-48 hours after the cleaning and 12 months later. House dust was analyzed for six OP pesticides. All homes had detectable baseline levels of OP pesticides on floors and windowsills. Cleaning of linoleum floors was ineffective in removing total pesticide residues and cleaning effectiveness varied among the pesticides. The cleaning of total OP pesticides on the windowsills was effective (median decrease was 0.0029 μg/cm 2, 1-sided p-value = 0.01). Steam cleaning carpets essentially reduced the amounts to non-detectable levels. In 12 months the levels in carpets had accumulated to one-third of the baseline levels. These results provide evidence that cleaning practices can reduce the amount of pesticides in agricultural homes; however the type of surface being cleaned and the pesticides present in the home may influence results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-88
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Environment
  • Farmworkers
  • Hygiene
  • Organophosphorus
  • Pesticides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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