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EPA-Expo-Box (A Toolbox for Exposure Assessors)

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Exposed Populations

Pesticides have widespread uses and may affect both the general population and occupational workers. The general population may be exposed both indoors and outdoors. Certain populations and lifestages may be at risk for higher exposures than the general population (see below).

  • A developing fetus may be at increased risk to certain pesticides if exposure to the pregnant woman occurs during critical developmental stages.
  • Nursing infants are highly susceptible to pesticide exposure through breastmilk.
  • Toddlers and young children may be susceptible to pesticide exposure because of certain behaviors (e.g. tendency to mouth objects or hands) and activities (e.g., crawling or playing on the floor indoors where dust contaminated with pesticides has settled, playing on the lawn where pesticides are commonly applied) that increase their chances of exposure.

Due to the nature of the work, certain occupations may result in higher exposure levels of pesticides to workers. Protecting occupational workers from the potential effects of pesticides is an important role of EPA's Pesticide Program. Workers may be exposed to pesticides through various activities, including:

  • Preparing pesticides for use—e.g., mixing a concentrate with water, loading a pesticide into application equipment.
  • Applying pesticides, such as in an agricultural or commercial setting. This includes employees on farms, forests, nurseries, greenhouses, and others who work around pesticides.
  • Entering an area where pesticides have been applied to perform specific tasks such as picking crops.

EPA has employed strategies for reducing the potential risk to workers from pesticides by implementing the Worker Protection Standard, which, among other things, requires worker pesticide safety training.

See the Lifestages and Populations Tool Set of EPA-Expo-Box for resources related to particular population groups and lifestages including workers, children, and women of child-bearing age.

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