Sign up for our Newsletter

93.1 F
Tampa
Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Stay Connected

  • Patel Conservatory

Sign up for our Newsletter

Toxic Dilemma: Are pesticides killing us?

Numerous scientific studies show that current regulatory systems around the world have failed to protect unborn and growing children from exposure to a massive cocktail of toxic pesticides.

Dr. Theo Colborn, a leading expert on endocrine-disrupting chemicals and co-author of Our Stolen Future, published a peer-reviewed study in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives that examined these issues. The study reviewed many of the scientific papers and showed the widespread extent to which children and the unborn are exposed to numerous pesticides. Multiple pesticide residues have been found in semen, ovarian follicular fluid, amniotic fluid, maternal blood, placental and umbilical cord blood, breast milk, meconium of newborns and in the urine of children. She writes, “It is fairly safe to say that every child conceived today in the northern hemisphere is exposed to pesticides from conception throughout gestation and lactation regardless of where it is born.”

The Environmental Working Group found up to 232 chemicals in the placental cord blood of babies in the U.S.

The fetus and growing children are the most vulnerable to the harm caused by chemicals. As young children they have the highest levels of pesticide exposure due to their food consumption in relation to their body weight. Of particular concern is that the fetus and newborn possess lower concentrations of protective serum proteins than adults. A major consequence of this vulnerability is a greater susceptibility to cancers and developmental neurotoxicity, where the poison damages the developing nervous system.

A number of studies show the link between chemical exposure, particularly exposure to pesticides, and the increase of cancer in children. The United States Presidents Cancer Panel report states, “Cancer incidence in U.S. children under 20 years of age has increased. Leukemia rates are consistently elevated among children who grow up on farms, among children whose parents used pesticides in the home or garden and among children of pesticide applicators.”

This report, written by eminent scientists and medical specialists from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, clearly states that environmental toxins, including pesticides, are the main causes of cancers.

Studies conducted by researchers at the Columbia University Center for Children’s Environmental Health, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine show that prenatal exposure to organophosphate insecticides (OPs) adversely affects the neurological development of children. Each study was conducted independently, but they all came up with very similar results: fetal exposure to small amounts of OPs will reduce the IQs of children.

A study of farm worker families in California has shown that by age three and a half, children born to mothers exposed to OP insecticides have lessened attention spans and are more vulnerable to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Male children were more likely to be impacted.

Parents should have considerable concern that the Columbia University study found no evidence of a lower-limit threshold of exposure to organophosphates in the observed adverse impact on intelligence. This means that even very low levels of exposure could lead to reductions in a child’s intelligence. The study by Rauh et al., published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, has confirmed the findings of the previous studies and shown a large range of brain abnormalities present in children exposed to chlorpyrifos in utero through normal, nonoccupational uses. Exposure to CPF in the womb, even at normal levels, resulted in “significant abnormalities in morphological measures of the cerebral surface associated with higher prenatal CPF exposure” in a sample of 40 children between 5 and 11 years old. The researchers stated that the current regulatory safety limits and testing methodologies are inadequate for determining safe exposure levels for children.

One of the great concerns is that many chemicals, including pesticides, become endocrine disruptors at very low levels — lower than the levels commonly found in our food. According to a meta-study by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Program, the fetus and growing children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of endocrine disrupters. This is because their tissues and organs are still developing and rely on balanced hormone signals to ensure that they develop in orderly sequences. Small disruptions in these hormone signals by endocrine-disrupting chemicals can significantly alter the way these body parts and metabolic systems develop. These altered effects will not only last a lifetime; they can be passed on to future generations.

A large body of published, peer-reviewed scientific research shows that pesticide exposure in unborn and growing children is linked to:

  • Cancers, including in adulthood
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Immune system problems
  • Lower IQs
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Lack of physical coordination
  • Loss of temper — anger management issues
  • Bipolar/schizophrenia spectrum of illnesses
  • Depression
  • Digestive system problems
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Reproductive problems (as adults)
  • Deformities of the genital-urinary systems
  • Changes to metabolic systems, including childhood obesity and diabetes

The current pesticide-testing methodologies use adolescent and adult animals. Consequently, they will not detect adverse health issues that are specific to the unborn and children. The EPA’s approach of lowering residues by a factor of 10 for children is based on data-free assumptions, especially since the evidence coming from endocrine disruption shows that in many cases the exposure should be more than a thousand times lower.

Currently for consumers the only way to avoid these poisons is to eat organically grown food that has been produced with guarantee systems such as third-party-certification (USDA NOP), participatory guarantee systems (PGS), as part of an organic consumer supported agriculture (CSA) scheme or farmers markets that check their farmers’ production claims.

These guarantee systems will ensure that the food is produced without toxic compounds. Most importantly, scientific studies show that eating organic food results in lower levels of these pervasive chemicals in humans, particularly children. In a study that showed giving children organic food dramatically lowers their pesticide levels, researchers from Emory University, the University of Washington and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated, “In conclusion, we were able to demonstrate that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production. We also concluded that these children were most likely exposed to these organophosphorus pesticides exclusively through their diet.”

A large body of published, peer-reviewed scientific research shows that pesticide exposure in unborn and growing children is linked to:
• Cancers, including in adulthood
• Thyroid disorders
• Immune system problems
• Lower IQs
• Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
• Autism spectrum disorders
• Lack of physical coordination
• Loss of temper — anger management issues
• Bipolar/schizophrenia spectrum of illnesses
• Depression
• Digestive system problems
• Cardiovascular disease
• Reproductive problems (as adults)
• Deformities of the genital-urinary systems
• Changes to metabolic systems, including childhood obesity and diabetes

Andre Leu, president of IFOAM – Organics International, is the author of The Myths of Safe Pesticides.

Related Articles

Ask the Doctor: The COVID vaccine and your 5 to 11 year-old child

*Story updated in June 2022 to include information about the booster shot for children ages 5-11. When the Food and Drug Administration and CDC approved...

How to Talk to Your Kids About Scary Things Like the School Shooting

It's not always easy to find the right words when our kids come to us with questions about the scary things happening in our...

3 Reasons Every Child in Florida Needs Swim Lessons

A friend recently reached out to me to ask about swim lessons for her son. She saw that my son was doing them and...
MOSI