Michoacan Study

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, farmworkers in Mexico and worldwide were deemed essential to the economy and continued in-person work. Consequently, farmworkers have been at greater risk for COVID-19 than the general population. Most studies on the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality among farmworkers have been conducted in the U.S. and Europe, and little is known about the risk to farmworkers in low- to middle- income countries (LMICs) like Mexico.  

Mexico is the world's largest producer of avocados, accounting for approximately 45% of global production. About 85% of avocados from Mexico are grown in the state of Michoacan. Nevertheless, the health effects of pesticide exposure among avocado workers have not been previously assessed. In this study, we aimed to (i) initiate a binational collaboration, integrating the extensive experience of the UC Berkeley researchers with their long-term investigations of farmworkers in California, and the Mexican researchers with their comprehensive understanding of the local context and avocado farming; (ii) assess COVID-19 knowledge, obstacles to preventive behaviors at work and at home, and mental health effects of this pandemic among farmworkers from Michoacán; and (iii) determine whether pesticide exposure affects the neurobehavioral and respiratory health of workers from avocado farms in Michoacán.

Study at a Glance

  • Study Objective: The Michoacan study aims to examine the impact of pesticide exposure and the COVID-19 pandemic among avocado farmworkers from Michoacán.
  • Principal investigators: Dr. Ana Maria Mora (CERCH/UC Berkeley) and Dr. Cynthia Armendariz Arnez (ENES Morelia/UNAM).
  • Project partners: Dr. Asa Bradman (UC Merced), Dr. Francisco Castillo (UC Berkeley), Dr. Julianna Deardorff (CERCH/UC Berkeley), Dr. Brenda Eskenazi (CERCH/UC Berkeley), Dr. Samuel Fuhrimann (Swiss TPH), Dr. Esteban Gudayol-Ferré (Universidad Michoacana San Nicolás de Hidalgo), Dr. Christian Lindh (Lund University), Dr. David Lopez-Carr (UC Santa Barbara), Dr. Francisco Mora Ardilla (UNAM), Dr. Maria Jose Rosa (Mount Sinai School of Medicine), Dr. Armando Sanchez Vargas (UNAM), Dr. Marcela Tamayo y Ortiz (Columbia University)
  • Funders: InnovaUNAM of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and Alianza UCMX of the University of California; University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS) and the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de México (Conacyt).
  • Contact: Dr. Ana Maria Mora at animora@berkeley.edu