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Pesticide-Exposure Matrix

The "Pesticide-exposure Matrix" was developed to help epidemiologists and other researchers identify the active ingredients to which people were likely exposed when their homes and gardens were treated for pests in past years. Its derivation is described in full in Colt J, Cyr MJ, Zahm SH, Tobias GS, Hartge P. 2006. Inferring past pesticide-exposures: a matrix of individual active ingredients in home and garden pesticides used in past decades. Environmental Health Perspective (epub).

The matrix is designed to be used in conjunction with self-reported information about the types of pests that were treated in a person's home or garden. (Example questionnaire)

The matrix covers four distinct time periods (1976, 1980, 1990, and 2000), two categories of pesticide appliers (consumers, using products purchased in retail stores, and professional applicators such as pest control operators and lawn services), and 12 types of pests:

  • lawn insects
  • lawn weeds
  • outdoor plant/tree insects
  • outdoor plant/tree weeds
  • outdoor plant/tree diseases
  • insects on indoor plants
  • crawling insects in/around the home
  • flying insects in/around the home
  • termites in/around the home
  • fleas/ticks on pets
  • fleas/ticks in/around the home
  • rodents

Thus, 96 distinct "scenarios" (4 years x 2 appliers x 12 pest types) are covered. For each scenario, the matrix lists the active ingredients that were on the market and provides a rough estimate of the probability that a product containing each ingredient was used. The probabilities are unrelated to the concentrations of the active ingredients in the product. The matrix does not cover synergists, repellents, solvents, emulsifiers, spreaders, stickers, buffering agents, or other ingredients that are not considered active ingredients but must be listed on the label.