Bioabsorption and effectiveness of long-lasting permethrin-treated uniforms over three months among North Carolina outdoor workers

Kristin M. Sullivan, Alison Poffley, Sheana Funkhouser, Jeffrey Driver, John Ross, Maria Ospina, Antonia M. Calafat, Charles B. Beard, Avian White, Jo Anne Balanay, Stephanie Richards, Megan Dyer, Thomas N. Mather, Steven Meshnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Vector-borne diseases are an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the USA. Effective, convenient prevention methods are needed. Long-lasting permethrin-impregnated (LLPI) clothing can prevent tick bites, however, additional information is needed on the real-world effectiveness and safety of this preventative measure. Methods: In this pilot study, we recruited state and county park employees from North Carolina to wear LLPI uniforms for three months during the summer of 2016. We collected spot urine samples for biomonitoring of permethrin metabolites at one week, one month and three months after first use of the LLPI uniform. Following three months of wear, we collected pants and socks and analyzed them for permethrin content and mortality to ticks and mosquitoes. Results: Thirteen park employees were included in the analysis. Bioactive amounts of permethrin remained in all clothing swatches tested, although there was great variability. Tick mortality was high, with 78% of pant and 88% of sock swatches having mean knockdown percentages ≥ 85%. In contrast, mosquito mortality was low. Over the study period, the absorbed dosage of permethrin averaged < 4 μg/kg/d of body weight based on measurements of three metabolites. Conclusions: LLPI clothing retained permethrin and bioactivity against ticks after three months of use in real-world conditions. The estimated absorbed dosage of permethrin was well below the U.S. EPA level of concern, suggesting that LLPI clothing can be used safely by outdoor workers for tick bite prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number52
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 23 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Mosquitoes
  • Permethrin
  • Permethrin absorption
  • Permethrin treatment
  • Repellent
  • Tick bites
  • Ticks


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