Project Title: Quantifying Exposure to Pesticides on Commercial Aircraft
Anticipated Outcome: While disinfection of aircraft is not currently practiced in the U.S., it is mandated by a number of countries with flights that originate or end in the U.S. This results in potential exposure of both crew and passengers to pyrethroids, the pesticides the most commonly used. The data from this project will enable a quantitative assessment of pyrethroid exposure risk to aircraft crewmembers and the traveling public.
Project Summary: Two types of pesticide application procedures are currently practiced: residual treatment (applied to empty planes but designed to leave an active film for at least 8 weeks) and top of descent spraying (applied while passengers are aboard). Although these are noted as safe by the World Health Organization when done following recommended guidelines, the pesticides are neurotoxicants and new toxicological studies suggest such pesticides can cause previously unreported developmental effects.
Researchers at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey have measured pyrethoids on the seats and tray table surfaces of some international aircraft, locations that can lead to easy transferal to food and skin potentially resulting in ingestion and/or dermal exposures. Upcoming sampling from fifty additional routes along with sampling of the urinary pyrethroid metabolites from crew members when coupled with ongoing computational modeling of the aerosolized distribution of pesticides within the aircraft cabins will document the level and prevalence of pesticide exposures from spraying. These data will enable the appropriate design of an epidemiological study to address the concerns of the crew and passengers, particularly children and pregnant women, about exposure to pesticides on international flights.
Clifford Weisell, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Randy Maddalena, LBNL
Sastry Isukapali, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
"Sampling Scheme for Pyrethroids on Multiple Surfaces on Commercial Aircrafts" K. Mohan, and C.P. Weisel, Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, in press 2009.