Health Consequences of Pesticide Exposure
Since the advent of modern agricultural practices, a movement which was greatly accelerated after World War II, pesticide use has been pervasive and widespread through the United States and the world. Today, decades after Rachel Carson’s ground breaking work warned us of the dangers of pesticide use, we are exposed to these chemicals daily at school, at work and even in our own homes or public places like city parks. Because of the serious nature of exposure to pesticides, this has the potential to become a serious and widespread health problem. Below, some of these health problems are discussed.
Researchers have long suspected a link between exposure to pesticides and certain forms of cancer. A direct link has been established, for instance, between one rare form of cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and pesticide exposure. It has also been found that children who live in homes where pesticides are used are 3-9 times as likely to develop leukemia as children who do not have this in their environment. Other studies have uncovered suspected links between pesticide exposure and cancers of the bone, breast, brain, reproductive organs and liver.
Many insecticides work by disrupting the nervous system of the insects which they are seeking to eradicate. Unfortunately, these properties can also have negative impacts on the neurological system of human beings as well. One study by the University of Montreal in conjunction with Harvard University found that exposure to pesticide residues left on conventionally raised fruits and vegetables doubled a child’s chances of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Researchers from the University of California at Berkley found that children of women who were exposed to organophosphate pesticides while pregnant were more than six times as likely to develop autism spectrum disorders.
Other Health Concerns
While the most attention has been paid to the ability of pesticides to cause cancer and neurological problems, a variety of other health problems have been linked to these chemicals as well. These problems include gastrointestinal irritation, anemia and cardiovascular issues. Because many of these chemicals are considered endocrine disruptors and mimic estrogen and testosterone in the body, they are also suspected of causing reproductive and hormonal problems, including problems with fertility.
What Can You Do?
While exposure to pesticides, as universal as they are, cannot be entirely eliminated, they can be greatly reduced. One of the most important things you can do for your health and the health of your family is to buy organic food. While for most families it is not possible to follow an all-organic diet because of these expense, at least try to buy organic meat and dairy and also fruits and vegetables that are eaten with the skins on – tomatoes or strawberries for example – since exposure can come from residues of pesticides left on this kind of produce. Another is not to use pesticides in your home, yard or garden but to opt for natural forms of these instead. Ecologically friendly products to deter or kill insects, fungus and other problem species are available even in mainstream stores like Home Depot or Lowes. These two things alone can greatly reduce the health risks associated with pesticide exposure and help protect you and your family from the negative consequences that it can bring with it.
Toxins Action Center
Live Strong Magazine
by The Great Gathering
Copyright The Great Gathering 2014©