Pesticide Exposure

Tractor spraying pesticides on crops

People are exposed to low levels of pesticides every day in a variety of places—at home, at school, or at work. The health risks from pesticide exposure depend on how dangerous the pesticide is, the amount a person is exposed to, how long the exposure lasts, and the route of exposure. The Tracking Network has data from poison control centers on pesticide exposures and related health effects to help identify trends and patterns over time and across geographies.

We Track That

The pesticide exposure data used on the Tracking Network come from poison control centers across the nation through a partnership with the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). AAPCC works with poison centers throughout the United States to monitor poisonings and their sources. Sources include chemicals found in household products, the workplace, at home, and in the environment and poisonings from foods, beverages, drugs and medicines, and animal and insect bites.

Poison control centers offer a free, confidential 24-hour telephone line (1-800-222-1222) where people can get medical advice on poisonings. You can also access to get information about what to do if someone has come into contact with a poison.

Types of Data

AAPCC maintains the National Poison Data System (NPDS), the only near, real-time comprehensive poisoning exposure surveillance database in the United States. The Tracking Network displays poison control center data from the NPDS for poisonings by state.

Reported Pesticide Exposures
This indicator shows the number and rate (number of cases per 100,000 population) of exposures to different types of pesticides by state and by year reported to poison control centers. Pesticides are categorized according to their functional class: disinfectants, fumigants, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, repellents, and rodenticides.

Advanced Options for Reported Pesticide Exposures Data

  • Pesticide Exposure Site – This Advanced option shows the reason for the reported pesticide exposure.
    • Residential – your home or another residence
    • Workplace
    • Other – any location not included in residential or workplace exposure sites, for example, school, a medical facility, or other public place such as a restaurant
  • Reason for Pesticide Exposure – This advanced option shows the rate and number of reported exposures by location.
    • Unintentional environmental – any exposure from air, water, or soil contamination
    • Unintentional misuse – improper or incorrect use of a pesticide product resulting in a pesticide exposure
    • Unintentional occupational – any job-related exposure
    • Unintentional general – all other unintentional exposures

Pesticide-Related Illness
This indicator shows the rate and number of illnesses that resulted from the reported pesticide exposure and the severity of the health effects. The health effects range from minor effect to death. The health outcome data groupings are defined by the AAPCC.

  • No effect – The patient did not have any signs or symptoms as a result of the exposure.
  • Minor effect – The patient developed some symptoms but improved rapidly without any long-term health effects. Examples include drowsiness, skin irritation, and mild cough.
  • Moderate effect – The patient developed symptoms that lasted longer or were more serious than minor effects, but not life threatening. Usually treatment is involved. Examples include high fever, disorientation, and low blood pressure.
  • Major effect – The patient developed life-threatening symptoms that caused serious health problems or disfigurement as a result of the exposure. Examples include seizures, and cardiac or respiratory arrest.
  • Death – The patient died as a direct result of the exposure or complication of the exposure.
  • Unable to follow-potentially toxic – The patient was lost to follow-up, refused follow-up, or was not followed, but the exposure was significant and may have resulted in a moderate or major outcome or death.

Advanced options for pesticide-related illness data are the same as those for the reported pesticide exposures indicator.

Data Highlight

In 2017, most reported health effects from pesticide exposures were minor. Explore more pesticide exposures data on the Tracking Network.

Data in Action

Tracking pesticide exposures in a standard way can help us

  • identify trends over time and across different geographic areas,
  • explore patterns of health effects from pesticide exposures,
  • determine trends in exposure sites (work, school, or home), and
  • know which pesticides are more, or less, of a problem.

Tracking the acute, or short-term, health effects related to pesticide exposures can inform public health actions like restricting the use of certain pesticides or placing stronger language on warning labels.

Read these success stories to learn about pesticide related work in our funded Tracking Programs.

California |Iowa | New York City

Learn More

Tracking Resources

Explore Pesticide Exposures Data
Data Explorer
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Create custom data visualizations, save, & share results

Quick Reports
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View data in simple charts

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Access machine-readable data

Page last reviewed: October 21, 2020