Farmers' exposure to herbicides in North Italy: Assessment under real-life conditions in small-size rice and corn farms

Federico M. Rubino, Stefan Mandic-Rajcevic, Eugenio Ariano, Athanasios Alegakis, Monica Bogni, Gabri Brambilla, Gioia De Paschale, Anna Firmi, Claudio Minoia, Giuseppina Micoli, Simona Savi, Cristina Sottani, Chiara Somaruga, Roberta Turci, Francesca Vellere, Aristidis Tsatsakis, Claudio Colosio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Although rice and corn are two main cash crops in Lombardy (North Italy) and their cultivation involves several thousands of farmers, risk assessment of pesticide exposure is rarely done, especially in small and medium sized enterprises. With the use of pads for environmental monitoring (OECD protocol), of pre- and post-exposure 24. h urine collection for biological monitoring and of hand wash for hands' exposure, we measured the exposure of 28 agricultural workers to propanil and terbuthylazine in real-life working conditions. In propanil applicators, median daily exposure on the clothes was 73.5 μmol per worker, while the exposure on the skin was 22.4 μmol. For terbuthylazine, these exposures were 37.2 μmol and 0.86 μmol per worker, respectively. Median excretion of the propanil metabolite (3,4-dichloroaniline) after exposure was 84. nmol in 24. h urine, and 13. nmol for the metabolite of terbuthylazine. Risk assessment performed by comparing to the AOELs of the applied active ingredients with an estimated internal dose, obtained based on the measured levels of skin and hand exposure and the percentage of dermal absorption of the active ingredients considered showed that 4 propanil workers, and no terbuthylazine workers, were overexposed. Our study helps define and confirm relationships between different exposure determinants, which can be used in the development of tools for risk assessment of exposure to pesticides in small and medium sized enterprises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-197
Number of pages9
JournalToxicology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 25 2012



  • Biological monitoring
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Pesticide exposure
  • Propanil
  • Terbuthylazine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

Cite this

Rubino, F. M., Mandic-Rajcevic, S., Ariano, E., Alegakis, A., Bogni, M., Brambilla, G., De Paschale, G., Firmi, A., Minoia, C., Micoli, G., Savi, S., Sottani, C., Somaruga, C., Turci, R., Vellere, F., Tsatsakis, A., & Colosio, C. (2012). Farmers' exposure to herbicides in North Italy: Assessment under real-life conditions in small-size rice and corn farms. Toxicology Letters, 210(2), 189-197.