GroundTruth Blog

is PAN's Program & Policy Director. Follow @KristinAtPAN

Kristin Schafer's blog

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

This is very powerful data. A new, first-of-its-kind report from California's Department of Health (DPH) shows that health-harming agricultural pesticides are being sprayed close to schools across the state.

Not just a few pesticides, either — or a few schools. More than 500,000 California children in hundreds of schools spend their days within 1/4 mile of pesticide applications. Of these, more than 100,000 (mostly Latino) children in 226 schools attend classrooms near fields with the heaviest use of dangerous chemicals. We have a problem.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Each year we mark national Autism Awareness Month with an update on how many children officials say are now on the autism spectrum. We highlight the latest science linking prenatal pesticide exposure to increased risk. And we make an urgent pitch to shift from awareness to prevention.

Well, once again the numbers are up. CDC reports that 1 in 68 children are now on the autism spectrum, up from 1 in 88 in 2008 and 1 in 150 "way back" in 2002. And once again, new science links certain chemical exposures to derailed fetal brain development — with an ever clearer understanding of how the damage is done. The good news? When it comes to talking prevention, there's been real progress.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Scientists issued yet another wake up call last week, adding more chemicals to the list of those known to harm our children's brains. These neurotoxicants — including the common pesticide chlorpyrifos — are linked to falling IQs, increased risk of ADHD and other developmental disorders.

Now here's the really extraordinary part of the story: the researchers conclude that it's time to "accelerate the translation of science into prevention." In other words, we need to do something about this problem. Now.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Scan the ingredient list of many "antibacterial" soaps and body washes, and you'll find triclosan. This pesticide — yes, I said pesticide — is so widely used that it's now found in most of our bodies. And after decades of thinking about it, FDA is finally saying "enough."

It turns out some significant risks are linked to triclosan, including altering how hormones work in our bodies, undermining our immune systems and making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Oh, and according to FDA experts, it doesn't seem to get hands or bodies any cleaner than good old soap and water.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Today, our PAN partners in Asia are releasing an in-depth, global study on children and pesticides. As a mom, I'm both deeply thankful for this report and profoundly frustrated that it needs to be written at all.

Dr. Meriel Watts reviewed hundreds of scientific studies from around the world, and found that children across the globe face serious — and growing — health harms from exposure to pesticides. Her report then outlines clear, doable steps to making real change.