Key considerations for assessing soil ingestion exposures among agricultural workers

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2019: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2022
Grant Recipient: Johns Hopkins University
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Keeve Nachman, PhD
Johns Hopkins BSPH
Background Soil ingestion is a critical, yet poorly characterized route of exposure to contaminants, particularly for agricultural workers who have frequent, direct contact with soil. Objective This qualitative investigation aims to identify and characterize key considerations for translating agricultural workers’ soil ingestion experiences into recommendations to improve traditional exposure science tools for estimating soil ingestion. Methods We conducted qualitative in-depth interviews with 16 fruit and vegetable growers in Maryland to characterize their behaviors and concerns regarding soil contact in order to characterize the nature of soil ingestion in the agricultural context. Results We identified and discussed four emergent themes: (1) variability in growers’ descriptions of soil and dust, (2) variability in growers’ soil contact, (3) growers’ concerns regarding soil contact, (4) growers’ practices to modify soil contact. We also identified environmental and behavioral factors and six specific agricultural tasks that may impact soil ingestion rates. Significance Our investigation fills an important gap in occupational exposure science methodology by providing four key considerations that should be integrated into indirect measurement tools for estimating soil ingestion rates in the agricultural context. Specifically, a task-based framework may provide a structure for future investigations of soil contact that may be useful in other populations.
Peer-reviewed Journal Article
Sara Lupolt, Johns Hopkins University
Jacqueline Agnew, Johns Hopkins University
Thomas Burke, Johns Hopkins University
Ryan Kennedy, Johns Hopkins University
Keeve Nachman, Johns Hopkins University
Target audiences:
Educators; Researchers
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.