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Evaluation of Coumaphos Exposure Among Tick Eradication Workers

Thomas, Gregory A. MD, MS; Delaney, Lisa J. MS, CIH; Mueller, Charles MS; Page, Elena MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 2 - p 131-136
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181cd7e80
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate both the cholinesterase monitoring program and newer field methods of determining coumaphos exposure among tick eradication workers.

Methods: Measured blood cholinesterase by the Ellman and field testing methods and tested urine for chlorferon pre- and postshift; conducted personal air sampling, patch sampling of clothing, and wipe sampling of hands for coumaphos.

Results: Fifteen workers had normal plasma cholinesterase and acetylcholinesterase levels. No significant changes occurred pre- to postshift. High correlation was found between plasma cholinesterase and acetylcholinesterase levels by field testing and Ellman methods (r = 0.91, P < 0.01 and r = 0.63, P < 0.01, respectively). Chlorferon levels rose 4 to 6 hours after use (P < 0.01). Airborne coumaphos was detected in only one sample, in a trace amount. The majority of patch and hand wipe samples detected coumaphos.

Conclusions: Dermal exposure to coumaphos resulted in significant increases in urinary metabolites of coumaphos.

From the Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Gregory A. Thomas is currently at Occupational Physicians Services, Louisville, Kentucky.

Lisa J. Delaney is currently at National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Atlanta, Georgia.

Authors Gregory Thomas, Lisa Delaney, Charles Mueller, and Elena Page have no commercial interest related to this research.

The JOEM Editorial Board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Address correspondence to: Elena Page, MD, MPH, NIOSH/CDC, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Mailstop R-10, Cincinnati, OH 45226; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine