Chemicals in pesticides have been found to contribute to serious health concerns like autism, birth defects, early puberty, and diseases like cancer, diabetes and asthma in children.
In a report, the Pesticide Action Network said that the pesticides used to kill insects have more pronounced detrimental effects on children than adults. "One of the things that is also really clear from science is that children are just much more vulnerable to pesticide exposure," said report co-author Kristin Schafer.
"In terms of how their bodies work and defense mechanisms work, how much (pesticides) they're taking in pound for pound, they're eating more, drinking more, breathing more than an adult, and are much more susceptible to harms that pesticides can pose," she added.
Indeed, various researches indicate that exposure to pesticides in children even while in the womb, or during other critical periods may result in significant health risks including higher incidence of birth defects, neurodevelopmental delays and cognitive impairment, childhood cancers, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or endocrine disruption.
Scientists from the University of Montreal and Harvard University have released a study showing that exposure to pesticide residues on vegetables and fruits can doubly increase the risk of a child to acquire attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that results to inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity in children.
Another study conducted by researchers at the Public Health Institute, the California Department of Health Services, and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health found an increased risk for women who were exposed to organochlorine pesticides for their children to develop autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Pesticides have been proven to cause many types of cancer in humans, and among the most prevalent are leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, brain, bone, breast, ovarian, prostate, testicular and liver cancers. This is especially true for children whose bodies are still developing. A study published in February 2009 by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry showed that children who stayed in homes where parents use pesticides are more prone to develop brain cancer than those who live in areas where no pesticides are used.
But children are more susceptible to the effects of pesticide exposure since their bodies are in the process of development. Infants, especially, are still fragile and the development of their tissue growth and organ development can be irreversibly affected by pesticide exposure. Exposure to pesticides may happen everywhere, from residues in food, inside the home or in play areas, or in schools.
A study by the University of Washington showed that children who ate mostly organic produce had only one-sixth the level of organophosphate pesticide byproducts in their urine compared to those who were fed conventionally grown food.
There is no doubt that children are continuously exposed to chemicals from pesticides. In a study of around 200 children in Arkansas, test results showed the urine contained pesticides in nearly all samples tested. In an analysis of pesticide-related data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), found that the toxic pesticide found in the body of many Americans are above the government acceptable threshold level.
The use of toxic pesticides has become a common practice to manage pest problems, not only for agriculture but also in homes, schools, parks and other areas where pests may be found. Thus, pesticides can be found in the air, the food, and the drinking water.
And all the time there is more evidence surfacing that human exposure to pesticides is linked to health problems. For example, in May 2010, scientists from the University of Montreal and Harvard University released a study that found that exposure to pesticide residues on vegetables and fruit may double a child's risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that can cause inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity in children.
According to scientific studies, the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 12, making children more susceptible to the hazards associated with pesticide use. Thus, childhood exposure to pesticides may have significant impact the development of the central nervous system. And since the children's immune systems, nervous systems, or detoxifying mechanisms have not been completely developed, they are less capable of fighting the toxic chemicals into their systems. A wide range of other human health hazards, ranging from headaches, dizziness, fatigue and nausea to more serious chronic diseases like cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption have been linked to pesticides. While some of these effects are tolerable, others can be serious, and even fatal.
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