Investigation of Relationships Between the Geospatial Distribution of Cancer Incidence and Estimated Pesticide Use in the U.S. West

Naveen Joseph, Catherine R. Propper, Madeline Goebel, Shantel Henry, Indrakshi Roy, Alan S. Kolok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The objective of the study was to evaluate the potential geospatial relationship between agricultural pesticide use and two cancer metrics (pediatric cancer incidence and total cancer incidence) across each of the 11 contiguous states in the Western United States at state and county resolution. The pesticide usage data were collected from the U.S. Geological Survey Pesticide National Synthesis Project database, while cancer data for each state were compiled from the National Cancer Institute State Cancer Profiles. At the state spatial scale, this study identified a significant positive association between the total mass of fumigants and pediatric cancer incidence, and also between the mass of one fumigant in particular, metam, and total cancer incidence (P-value < 0.05). At the county scale, the relationship of all cancer incidence to pesticide usage was evaluated using a multilevel model including pesticide mass and pesticide mass tertiles. Low pediatric cancer rates in many counties precluded this type of evaluation in association with pesticide usage. At the county scale, the multilevel model using fumigant mass, fumigant mass tertiles, county, and state predicted the total cancer incidence (R-squared = 0.95, NSE = 0.91, and Sum of square of residuals [SSR] = 8.22). Moreover, this study identified significant associations between total fumigant mass, high and medium tertiles of fumigant mass, total pesticide mass, and high tertiles of pesticide mass relative to total cancer incidence across counties. Fumigant application rate was shown to be important relative to the incidence of total cancer and pediatric cancer, at both state and county scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GH000544
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • fumigants
  • metam
  • modifiable areal unit problem
  • multilevel model
  • pediatric cancer
  • pesticides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Epidemiology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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