In a new study in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe, researchers documented the presence of pesticides on playgrounds near agricultural fields in South Tyrol, Italy.
Pesticides were found on more than half of the 71 public playgrounds tested for contamination. Twelve pesticides in total were found, and more than 90% of the chemicals are considered “hormone active,” meaning they have endocrine disrupting properties.
Peter Clausing, a toxicologist for Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Germany and co-author of the study, called the presence of these substances very worrisome:
These substances can alter early development, which is an especially sensitive phase for children. Exposure can have long-term detrimental effects, and could possibly cause cancer, impaired brain function, obesity and diabetes.”
The authors call for protective buffer zones and comprehensive monitoring of pesticide drift in agriculture-intensive areas, and urge policymakers to consider these findings as the European Union revises it’s “Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides” later this year.
According to Emily Marquez, a staff scientist for PAN North America, the Italian study mirrors evidence of agricultural pesticide drift onto playgrounds and schools in California, Minnesota and other parts of the U.S. Spray-free buffer zones, she notes, are a good first step — but may not be enough:
We know that some pesticides can drift up to a mile from fields or orchards where they’re applied. It’s time to invest in healthier farming systems that don’t rely on chemicals that harm children’s health.”