Pediatricians Recommend Drastically Reducing Childhood Pesticide Exposure

11/29/2012

 

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Thinkstock

Children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides and exposure should be reduced as much as possible according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatricians. Exposure comes in many forms: air, dust, soil, and diet, and long term exposure is more dangerous than previously thought.

"Pesticides are a collective term for a wide array of chemicals intended to kill unwanted insects, plants, molds, and rodents. Food, water, and treatment in the home, yard, and school are all potential sources of children’s exposure. Exposures to pesticides may be overt or subacute, and effects range from acute to chronic toxicity," according to the report

Gone are the days of the poison control public messaging that outlined risks with only large ingested or other direct exposures. Today, pediatricians are finding increased risks for certain types of cancers as well as lower IQs from low doses over longer periods of time. 

LiveScience reports:

There's also emerging evidence that long-term exposure to lower doses of pesticides can harm children, the AAP says. Studies have linked exposure to pesticides while in the womb with an increased risk of cancers in children, including brain cancer and leukemia. Parents in these studies, were exposed to pesticides either at their work, or while using pesticides around the house.

Parents should take the following steps to reduce exposure for kids:

1. Choose organic foods, or foods grown without the use of pesticides as much as possible.

2. Cut way back or completely eliminate the use of pesticides in your lawn and garden. 

3. Avoid excessive use of pesticides for rodent and insect control as well as flea and tick control for animals. 

"Government regulators should take steps to increase economic incentives for farmers who use less toxic pesticides, and support research to better understand the health risks of pesticides," the AAP said on Live Science.

Farmers use five times more weed killers on their crops then they did in 1997, according to a story in The New York Times. Glyphosate is the largest selling herbicide and it's a main ingredient in Roundup, one of the most popular and widely used herbicides in the U.S and one study found that even when it's diluted to .02 percent of what is sprayed on crops it can cause DNA damage. The study found that inhaling glyphosate causes acute membrane damage, impairment of mitochondrial functions, and damage to DNA.

More and more emerging research tells us why pesticides may do more harm than good. 


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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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