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Title: Temporal variability of pesticide concentrations in homes and implications for attenuation bias in epidemiologic studies.
Authors: Deziel NC,  Ward MH,  Bell EM,  Whitehead TP,  Gunier RB,  Friesen MC,  Nuckols JR
Journal: Environ Health Perspect
Date: 2013 May
Branches: OEEB
PubMed ID: 23462689
PMC ID: PMC3672902
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Residential pesticide exposure has been linked to adverse health outcomes in adults and children. High-quality exposure estimates are critical for confirming these associations. Past epidemiologic studies have used one measurement of pesticide concentrations in carpet dust to characterize an individual's average long-term exposure. If concentrations vary over time, this approach could substantially misclassify exposure and attenuate risk estimates. OBJECTIVES: We assessed the repeatability of pesticide concentrations in carpet dust samples and the potential attenuation bias in epidemiologic studies relying on one sample. METHODS: We collected repeated carpet dust samples (median = 3; range, 1-7) from 21 homes in Fresno County, California, during 2003-2005. Dust was analyzed for 13 pesticides using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. We used mixed-effects models to estimate between- and within-home variance. For each pesticide, we computed intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) and the estimated attenuation of regression coefficients in a hypothetical case-control study collecting a single dust sample. RESULTS: The median ICC was 0.73 (range, 0.37-0.95), demonstrating higher between-home than within-home variability for most pesticides. The expected magnitude of attenuation bias associated with using a single dust sample was estimated to be ≤ 30% for 7 of the 13 compounds evaluated. CONCLUSIONS: For several pesticides studied, use of one dust sample to represent an exposure period of approximately 2 years would not be expected to substantially attenuate odds ratios. Further study is needed to determine if our findings hold for longer exposure periods and for other pesticides.