Hoppin, J. A., Yucel, F., Dosemeci, M., & Sandler, D. P.; “Accuracy of self-reported pesticide use duration information from licensed pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study;” Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, 2002, 12(5), 313-318; DOI: 10.1038/sj.jea.7500232.
Epidemiologists frequently rely on self-reported information regarding a variety of exposures including smoking history, medication use, and occupational exposure because other sources of information are either unavailable or difficult to obtain. One way to evaluate the accuracy of self-reported information is through logic checks using other sources. To assess the quality of the self-reported pesticide product use history of 57,311 licensed pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), we compared the self-reported decade of first use and total years of use to the year the pesticide active ingredient was first registered for use. We obtained pesticide active ingredient registration information from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and other publicly available sources for the 52 pesticides on the AHS initial questionnaires administered from 1994 to 1997. Based on the registration year, we assessed 19 pesticides for potential inaccuracies regarding duration of use or decade of first use. When calculating potential total years of use, we did not consider the impact of chemicals being removed from the market, since the possibility for continued use existed. The majority of respondents provided plausible responses for both decade of first use and total duration of use. On average, 1% of the subjects overestimated total possible duration of use, ranging from less than 1% for carbofuran and chlorpyrifos to 5% for imazethapyr. Decade of first use was also reasonably reported, although more subjects did not report decade of first use than duration of use, with an average of 6% of subjects missing decade information for an individual chemical. For subjects who reported a decade of first use, 98% gave plausible responses on average, with overestimates highest for cyanazine, introduced in 1971 (6% reported earlier use), and chlorimuron ethyl, introduced in 1985 (7% reported earlier use). This analysis provided the opportunity to consider only one source of potential overreporting of exposure, and while underreporting may have also occurred, we cannot evaluate its role nor the balance between these potential inaccuracies. While we are unable to validate directly the accuracy of a respondent’s use of pesticides, this analysis suggests that participants provide plausible information regarding their pesticide use. FULL TEXT