Urinary concentrations of organophosphate and carbamate pesticides in residents of a vegetarian community

T. Berman, T. Göen, L. Novack, L. Beacher, L. Grinshpan, D. Segev, K. Tordjman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Few population studies have measured urinary levels of pesticides in individuals with vegan, vegetarian, or organic diets. The objectives of this study were to evaluate whether a vegan/vegetarian diet was associated with increased exposure to organophosphate and carbamate pesticides, and to evaluate the impact of organic consumption on pesticide exposure in vegans and vegetarians. In the current pilot study conducted in 2013–2014, we collected spot urine samples and detailed 24 h recall dietary data in 42 adult residents of Amirim, a vegetarian community in Northern Israel. We measured urinary levels of non-specific organophosphate pesticide metabolites (dialkylphosphates, (DAPs)) and specific metabolites of the current-use pesticides chlorpyrifos (3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy)), propoxur (-isopropoxyphenol (IPPX)), and carbaryl (1-naphthol). Six DAP metabolites were detected in between 67 and 100% of urine samples, with highest geometric mean concentrations for dimethylphosphate (19.2 μg/g). Creatinine-adjusted median concentrations of total DAPs and of TCPy were significantly higher in Amirim residents compared to the general Jewish population in Israel (0.29 μmol/g compared to 0.16, p < 0.05 for DAPs and 4.32 μg/g compared to 2.34 μg/g, p < 0.05 for TCPy). Within Amirim residents, we observed a positive association between vegetable intake and urinary TCPy levels (rho = 0.47, p < 0.05) and lower median total dimethyl phosphate levels in individuals reporting that > 25% of the produce they consume is organic (0.065 μmol/L compared to 0.22, p < 0.05). Results from this pilot study indicate relatively high levels of urinary organophosphate pesticide metabolite concentrations in residents of a vegetarian community, a positive association between vegetable intake and urinary levels of a chlorpyrifos specific metabolite, and lower levels of total dimethyl phosphate in individuals reporting higher intake of organic produce. Results suggest that consumption of organic produce may offer some protection from increased exposure to organophosphate pesticide residues in vegetarians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment international
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Biomonitoring
  • Dialkylphosphates
  • Exposure
  • Organophosphates
  • Pesticides
  • Vegetarian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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