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Community Participatory Approach to Measuring Farmworker Pesticide Exposure: PACE3

Community Participatory Approach to Measuring Farmworker Pesticide Exposure: PACE3 –is the four year (2006-2010) continuation of the PACE and ¡La Familia! projects.  PACE3 builds on the ten years of community-based participatory research conducted by a partnership of the North Carolina Farmworkers Project, Student Action with Farmworkers, and Wake Forest School of Medicine.  In the course of our research, the partnership has also developed, analyzed, and published effective means to establish and sustain university-community collaboration. Despite efforts by our partnership and others to help farmworkers make their work environments safer and change their behaviors to reduce pesticide exposure, there are remarkably few data to document the actual routine exposure of farmworkers to pesticides in their work and home environments.  To address this problem, PACE3 is addressing four specific aims. PACE3 will (1) use community-based participatory processes to design an acceptable and effective strategy for collecting valid and reliable data on routine farmworker pesticide exposure; (2) document pesticide exposure levels and variability in these levels among farmworkers in North Carolina using urinary biomarkers; (3) delineate the predictors of pesticide exposure levels among farmworkers in North Carolina, including farmworker workplace and household behaviors, characteristics of the work and household environments, psychosocial stressors and health beliefs; and (4) develop and implement a communication and dissemination plan for disseminating risk information in culturally and educationally appropriate formats to farmworkers concerning pesticide exposure.

The PACE3 research design is based on a conceptual framework that contrasts proximal and distal determinants of pesticide exposure for farmworkers, and tests hypotheses derived from this conceptual model.  In the first year of the project, data collection procedures will be finalized through collaborative efforts with our community partners.  In the second project year, data will be collected; this will involve 4 repeated measures at monthly intervals with a sample of 260 farmworkers across the agricultural season.  A minimum of three data points is necessary to answer research questions about within-person variation in pesticide exposure.  Data collection will include several components, a structured interview questionnaire will collect information on exposure characteristics, a urine sample will be used to measure the presence of pesticide metabolites and heavy metals, a blood sample will be used to measure cholinesterase, and a salvia sample will be used to delineate genes related to pesticide metabolism.  Laboratory analysis will be completed in project years two and three.  In project years three and four, through the collaborative efforts of the community and academic partners, the communication and dissemination plan will be implemented, including returning results to participants, communicating results to the community, and communicating results to policy makers. 

Project Team: Thomas A. Arcury, PhD, Principal Investigator, Stephen W. Davis, MA, Mercedes Hernández-Pelletier, MPH (North Carolina Farmworkers Project), Ann Hiott, MD, Sara A. Quandt, PhD, and Melinda Wiggins, MTS (Student Action with Farmworkers). Dana B. Barr, PhD, (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Jane Hoppin, ScD (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) are consultants. 

Funding Agency:  This four-year project is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (R25 OH07611) 

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