Collection: Children and Pesticides Don't Mix!-Article
Children are especially vulnerable to pesticides The National Academy of Sciences reports that children are more susceptible to chemicals than adults and estimates that 50% of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs during the first five years of life.1 EPA concurs that children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxic chemicals.2 Infants crawling behavior and proximity to the floor account for a greater potential than adults for dermal and inhalation exposure to contaminants on carpets, floors, lawns, and soil.3 Children with developmental delays and those younger than six years are at increased risk of ingesting pesticides through nonfood items, such as soil.4 Pre-natal exposure to the herbicide atrazine are associated with fetal growth restriction and small head circumference and fetal growth restriction.5 A 2010 analysis observed that women who use pesticides in their homes or yards were two times more likely to have children with neural tube defects than women without these reported exposures.6 Studies find that pesticides such as the weedkiller 2,4-D pass from mother to child through umbilical cord blood and breast milk.7 Consistent observations have led investigators to conclude that chronic low-dose exposure to certain pesticides might pose a hazard to the health and development of children.8 The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that over 30% of the global burden of disease in children can be attributed to environmental factors, including pesticides.9 Children, cancer and pesticides In 2015, WHO found that there was sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental organisms to classify glyphosate, the active ingredient in the most popular lawncare brand (Roundup) as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A). WHO also found that 2,4-D- found in many ‘weed and feed’ products- is possibly carcinogenic.10 A 2010 meta-analysis of 15 studies on residential pesticide use and childhood leukemia finds an association with exposure during pregnancy, as well as to insecticides and herbicides. An association is also found for exposure to insecticides during childhood. 11 A 2013 study suggests that preconception pesticide exposure, and possibly exposure during pregnancy, is associated with an increased risk of childhood brain tumors.12 According to a 2015 study, living in agricultural regions is linked to increased leukemia and central nervous system cancers in children.13 A meta-analysis study by scientists at the Harvard University’s School of Public Health finds that children’s exposure to pesticides in and around the home results in an increased risk of developing certain childhood cancers. Authors found that cancer risks were connected most closely to the type of pesticide used and the location where it was applied.14 The probability of an effect such as cancer, which requires a period of time to develop after exposure, is enhanced if exposure occurs early in life.15 A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds that household and garden pesticide use can in- Don’t Mix A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet n A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet n A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet Children and Pesticides Commonly Used Chemicals Chemical Common Use Health Effects 2,4-D Lawns c, ed, r, n, kl, si, bd Dicamba Lawns r, n, kl, si, bd Fipronil Indoor/outdoor c, ed, n, kl, si baits, pet care Glyphosate Lawns c, r, n, kl, si Permethrin Mosquitoes, c, ed, r, n, kl, si head lice, garden Key: Birth/developmental defects=bd; Kidney/liver damage=kl; Sensitizer/irritant=si; Cancer=c; Neurotoxicity=n; Endocrine Disruption=ed; Reproductive effects=r Alternatives Reduce exposure to toxic chemicals by adopting sound organic or integrated pest management (IPM) practices that use cultural, mechanical and biological methods of control and least-toxic chemicals only as a last resort. An organic diet limits children’s pesticide exposure and toxic body burden. crease the risk of childhood leukemia as much as seven-fold.16 Studies show that children living in households where pesticides are used suffer elevated rates of leukemia, brain cancer and soft tissue sarcoma.17 Pesticides can increase susceptibility to certain cancers by breaking down the immune system’s surveillance against cancer cells. Infants and children, the aged and the chronically ill are at greatest risk from chemically-induced immune suppression.18 A study published by the American Cancer Society finds an increased risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in people exposed to common herbicides and fungicides, particularly the weedkiller mecoprop (MCPP). People exposed to glyphosate (Roundup®) are 2.7 times more likely to develop NHL.19 75 out of all 99 human studies done on lymphoma and pesticides find a link between the two.20 Four peer-reviewed studies demonstrate the ability of glyphosate-containing herbicides to cause genetic damage to DNA (mutagenicity), even at very low concentration levels.21 A 2007 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds that children born to mothers living in households with pesticide use during pregnancy had over twice as much risk of getting cancer, specifically acute leukemia (AL) or nonHodgkin lymphoma (NHL).22 A 2007 Canadian report shows that a greater environmental risk exists for boys, specifically when it comes to cancer, asthma, learning and behavioral disorders, birth defects and testicular dysgenesis syndrome.23 Children, asthma and pesticides Researchers find that pesticides may increase the risk of developing asthma, exacerbate a previous asthmatic condition or even trigger asthma attacks by increasing bronchial hyper-responsiveness. 24 Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage. One 2015 farmworker study found an association between early-life exposure to OPs and respiratory symptoms consistent with possible asthma in childhood.25 A 2012 study concluded that prenatal PBO exposure was associated with childhood cough in inner city children.26 A 2004 study finds that young infants and toddlers exposed to herbicides (weedkillers) within their first year of life are 4.5 times more likely to develop asthma by the age of five, and almost 2.5 times more likely when exposed to insecticides.27 EPA material safety data sheets for the common herbicides 2,4-D, mecoprop, dicamba, (often combined as Trimec®) and glyphosate (Roundup®) list them as respiratory irritants that can cause irritation to skin and mucous membranes, chest burning, coughing, nausea and vomiting. Children, learning and developmental disorders and pesticides Roughly one in six children in the U.S. has one or more developmental disability, ranging from a learning disability to a serious behavioral or emotional disorder.28 Scientists believe that the amount of toxic chemicals in the environment that cause developmental and neurological damage are contributing to the rise of physical and mental effects being found in children.29 According to researchers at the University of CaliforniaBerkeley School of Public Health, exposure to pesticides while in the womb may increase the odds that a child will have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).30 Studies show children’s developing organs create “early windows of great vulnerability” during which exposure to pesticides can cause great damage.31 Lawn pesticide products containing herbicides and fertilizers A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet n A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet n A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet n A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet n A Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet (such as “weed and feed” products) tested on mice show increased risk of infertility, miscarriage and birth defects at very low dosages.32 Results from a CHARGE study finds that agricultural exposures to organophosphates at some point during gestation was associated with a 60% increased risk for austism higher for third-trimester exposures, and second-trimester chlorpyrifos applications. Similarly, children of mothers residing near pyrethroid insecticide applications just before conception or during third trimester were at greater risk for both autism and developmental delay.33 Researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found an association between increasing pyrethroid pesticide exposure and ADHD which they conclude may be stronger for symptoms seen in boys compared to girls.34 Additional studies on lawn pesticide product formulations show effects on learning ability, aggressiveness, memory, motor skills and immune system function.35 A 2002 study finds children born to parents exposed to glyphosate (Roundup®) show a higher incidence of attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity.36 A study of 210,723 live births in Minnesota farming communities finds children of pesticide applicators have significantly higher rates of birth defects than the average population.37 In a 2004-2005 review of 2,4-D, EPA finds that, “there is a concern for endocrine disruption.”38 Pesticide accumulation and drift Children ages 6-11 nationwide have significantly higher levels of pesticide residues in their bodies than all other age categories.39 Biomonitoring testing in Canada finds residues of lawn pesticides, such as 2,4-D and mecoprop, in 15 percent of children tested, ages three to seven, whose parents had recently applied the lawn chemicals. Breakdown products of organophosphate insecticides are present in 98.7 percent of children tested.40 Scientific studies show that 2,4-D applied to lawns drifts and is tracked indoors where it settles in dust, air and surfaces and may remain for up to a year in carpets.41 One 2014 analysis of 129 preschool children, ages 20 to 66 months, found that children were exposed to indoor concentrations of pyrethroids, organophosphates and organochlorines pesticides which were detected in soil, dust and indoor air.42 Samples from 120 Cape Cod homes, where elevated incidence of breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancers are reported, find high indoor air and dust concentrations of carbaryl, permethrin, and 2,4-D.43 A study published in Environmental Health Perspetives found that children who eat a conventional diet of food produced with chemical-intensive practices carry residues of organophosate pesticides that are reduced or eliminat- ed when they switch to an organic diet.44 Scientists at the California Department of Public Health found that 28% of the mothers studied who lived near fields in the Central Valley, which were sprayed with organo- chlorines, such as endosulfan and dicofol, have children with autism.45 A 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that students and school em- ployees are being poisoned by pesticide use at schools and from drift off of neighboring farmlands.46 Endnotes 1. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences. 1993. Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, National Academy Press, Washington, DC. 184-185. 2. US EPA, Office of the Administrator, Environmental Health Threats to Children, EPA 175-F-96-001, September 1996. See also: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ food/pest.htm. 3. Bearer, CF. 2000. “The special and unique vulnerability of children to environmental hazards.” Neurotoxicology 21: 925-934; Fenske, R., et al. 1990. “Potential Exposure and Health Risks of Infants following Indoor Residential Pesticide Applications.” Am J. Public Health. 80:689-693. 4. Faustman EM, Silbernagel SM, Fenske RA, Burbacher TM, Ponce RA. 2000. “Mechanisms underlying children’s susceptibility to environmental toxicants.” Environmental Health Perspectives. 108(suppl 1):13 –21. 5. Chevrier C, Limon G, Monfort C, Rouget F, Garlantézec R, Petit C, et al. 2011. Urinary Biomarkers of Prenatal Atrazine Exposure and Adverse Birth Outcomes in the PELAGIE Birth Cohort. Environ Health Perspect. 119:1034-1041 6. Brender, JD., et al. 2010. Maternal Pesticide Exposure and Neural Tube Defects in Mexican Americans. Ann Epidemiol. 20(1):16-22 7. Pohl, HR., et al. 2000. “Breast-feeding exposure of infants to selected pesticides,” Toxicol Ind Health 16 :65 –77; Sturtz, N., et al. 2000. “Detection of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) residues in neonates breast-fed by 2,4-D exposed dams.” Neurotoxicology 21(1-2): 147-54; Houlihan, J., et al. 2005. Body Burden, The Pollution in Newborns. Environmental Working Group, Washington, D.C. http://www.ewg.org/reports/body_burden2/ (accessed8/5/05). 8. Weiss, B., et al. 2004 April. “Pesticides,” Pediatrics 113(4): 1030-1036. 9. World Heath Organization (WHO). 2006. Principles for Evaluating Health Risks in Children Associated with Exposure to Chemicals. Geneva, Switzerland. 10. [IARC. IARC Monographs Volume 112: evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides. 20 march 2015. http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf; and IARC. Carcinogenicity of lindane, DDT, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. The Lancet Oncology, 16(8).p891-892. 11. Turner, M.C., et al. 2010. Residential pesticides and childhood leukemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Environ Health Perspect 118(1):33-41
12. Green KR, Peters S, Bailey HD. 2013) Exposure to pesticides and the risk of childhood brain tumors. Cancer Causes Control. DOI 10.1007/s10552-013-0205-1 13. Booth BJ, Ward MH, Turyk ME, et al. 2015. Agricultural crop density and risk of childhood cancer in the midwestern United States: an ecologic study. Environmental Health:14(82) 14. Chen M, Chi-Hsuan C, Tao L, et al. 2015. Residential Exposure to Pesticide During Childhood and Childhood Cancers: A Meta-Analysis. Pediatrics. DOI: 10.1542/ peds.2015-0006 15. Vasselinovitch, S., et al. 1979. “Neoplastic Response of Mouse Tissues During Perinatal Age Periods and Its Significance in Chemical Carcinogensis,” Perinatal Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute Monograph 51. 16. Lowengart, R., et al. 1987. “Childhood Leukemia and Parent’s Occupational and Home Exposures,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 79:39. 17. Leiss, J., et al. 1995. “Home Pesticide Use and Childhood Cancer: A Case-Control Study,” American Journal of Public Health 85:249-252; Gold, E. et al. 1979. “Risk Factors for Brain Tumors in Children,” Am J of Epidemiology 109(3): 309-319; Lowengart, P., et al. 1995. “Childhood Leukemia and Parents’ Occupational and Home Exposures,” J National Cancer Institute 79(1): 39-45; Reeves, J. 1982. “Household Insecticide-Associated Blood Dyscrasias in Children,” (letter) Am J of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology 4:438-439; Davis, J., et al. 1993. “Family Pesticide Use and Childhood Brain Cancer,” Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 24:87-92; Buckley, J., et al. 1994. “Epidemiological characteristics of Childhood Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia,” Leukemia 8(5):856-864. 18. Repetto, R., et al. 1996 March. Pesticides and Immune System: The Public Health Risk, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC. 19. Hardell, L., et al. 1999 Mar. “A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and Exposure to Pesticides,” J of the Am Cancer Soc, (85):6. p.1353. 20. Osburn, S. 2001. Do Pesticides Cause Lymphoma? Lymphoma Foundation of America, Chevy Chase, MD. 21. Cox C. 2004 Winter. “Glyphosate.” Journal Of Pesticide Reform Vol. 24 (4). 22. Rudant, J. et al. 2007. Household Exposure to Pesticides and Risk of Childhood Hematopoietic Malignancies: The ESCALE Study (SFCE). Environ Health Perspect. 115:1787–1793. 23. Canadian Partnership For Children’s Health and Environment. 2007. A Father’s Day Report - Men, Boys And Environmental Health Threats. www.healthyenvironmentforkids.ca. 24. Hernández, AF., Parrón, T. and Alarcón, R. 2011. Pesticides and asthma. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol.11(2):90-6 25. Raanan R, Harley KG, Balmes JR, et al. 2015. Early-life exposure to organophosphate pesticides and pediatric respiratory symptoms in the CHAMACOS cohort. Environ Health Perspect. 123(2):179-85. 26. Liu B, Jung KH, Horton MK, et al. 2012. Prenatal exposure to pesticide ingredient piperonyl butoxide and childhood cough in an urban cohort, Environ Int. 48:156-61. 27. Salam, MT, et al. 2004. “Early Life Environmental Risk Factors for Asthma: Findings from the Children’s Health Study.” Environmental Health Perspectives 112(6): 760. 28. Boyle, C. A., et al. 1994. “Prevalence and health impact of developmental disabilities in US children.” Pediatrics 93: 399-403. 29. National Research Council. 2000. Scientific frontiers in developmental toxicology and risk assessment. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; Physicians for Social Responsibility, The National Environmental Trust, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America. 2000. Polluting our future: Chemical pollution in the U.S. that affects child development and learning. http://www.net.org/health/tri_report.pdf (accessed 6/2/05). 30. Marks AR, Harley K, Bradman A, Kogut K, Barr DB, Johnson C, et al. 2010. Organophosphate Pesticide Exposure and Attention in Young Mexican-American Children: The CHAMACOS Study. Environ Health Perspect 118:1768-1774. 31. Landrigan, P.J., L Claudio, SB Markowitz, et al. 1999. “Pesticides and in¬ner-city children: exposures, risks, and prevention.” Environmental Health Perspectives 107 (Suppl 3): 431-437. 32. Greenlee, A. et al. 2004. “Low-Dose Agrochemicals and Lawn-Care Pesticides Induce Developmental Toxicity in Murine Preimplantation Embryos,” Environmental Health Perspectives 112(6): 703-709; Cavieres, M., et al. 2002. “Developmental toxicity of a commercial herbicide mixture in mice: Effects on embryo implantation and litter size.” Environmental Health Perspectives 110:1081-1085. 33. Shelton, Geraghty, Tancredi. 2014. Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study. Environmental Health Perspectives:122(10). 34. Wagner-Schuman, M, Richardson, J, Auinger, P et al. 2015. Association of pyrethroid pesticide exposure with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children. Environmental Health. 14:44 35. Porter, W. 2004 Spring. “Do Pesticides Affect Learning and Behavior? The neuro-endocrine-immune connection,” Pesticides and You, Beyond Pesticides 21(4): 11- 15; Shettler, T., et al. 2000. “Known and suspected developmental neurotoxicants,” In Harms Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility: Cambridge, MA; Mitchell, J. et al. 1989. “The Behavioral Effects of Pesticides in Male Mice,” Neurotoxicology and Teratology 11: 45-50. 36. Cox C. 2004. Journal Of Pesticide Reform Vol. 24 (4) citing: Garry, V.F. et al. 2002. “Birth defects, season of conception, and sex of children born to pesticide applicators living in the Red River Valley of Minnesota.” Environmental Health Perspectives 110 (Suppl. 3):441-449. 37. Garry, V., et al. 1996. “Pesticide appliers, biocides, and birth defects in rural Minnesota.” Environmental Health Perspectives 104(4):394-399. 38. EPA. 2004 June. 2,4-D. HED’s Human Health Risk Assessment for the Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED). p7. 39. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2003 Jan. Second National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. 40. Valcke, Mathieu, et al. 2004. “Characterization of exposure to pesticides used in average residential homes with children ages 3 to 7 in Quebec.” Nat Inst of Public Health, Québec. www.inspq.qc.ca/pdf/publica-tions/319-CaracterisationPesticidesEnfants.pdf (accessed 6/2/05). 41. Nishioka, M., et al. 1996. “Measuring lawn transport of lawn-applied herbicide acids from turf...” Env Science Technology, 30:3313-3320; Nishioka, M., et al. 2001. “Distribution of 2,4-D in Air and on Surfaces Inside Residences...”Environmental Health Perspectives 109(11). 42. Morgan, M, Wilson, N, and Chuang C. 2014. Exposures of 129 Preschool Children to Organochlorines, Organophosphates, Pyrethroids, and Acid Herbicides at Their Homes and Daycares in North Carolina. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 11(4), 3743-3764 43. Rudel, Ruthann, et al. 2003. “Phthalates, Alkylphenols, Pesticides, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers, and Other Endocrine-Disrupting Compounds in Indoor Air and Dust.” Environmental Science and Technology 37(20): 4543-4553. 44. Lu, C. et al. 2008. Dietary Intake and Its Contribution to Longitudinal Organophosphorus Pesticide Exposure in Urban/Suburban Children. Environmental Health Perspectives doi:10.1289/ehp.10912 available via http://dx.doi.org/. 45. Roberts, C. et al. 2007. Maternal Residence Near Agricultural Pesticide Applications and Autism Spectrum Disorders among Children in the California Central Valley. Environmental Health Perspectives 115(10) 46. Alarcon, WA. et al. 2005. Acute illnesses associated with pesticide exposure at school. J Am Medical Association 294(4); 455-465.
Subscribe to our emails
Subscribe to our mailing list for insider news, product launches, and more.