Kids are being exposed to pesticides in their diet, study confirms | Pesticide Action Network
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Kids are being exposed to pesticides in their diet, study confirms

For Immediate Release: October 9, 2015

Contact: Paul Towers, 916-216-1082,

Oakland, CA — In a study just released in the October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers found that switching to an organic diet decreased pesticide exposure for children. The study documented urinary breakdown products, or metabolites, of certain pesticides in children from two California communities: Fruitvale, an urban neighborhood in Oakland, and the city of Salinas.

Children’s growing bodies are particularly susceptible to the harm of pesticide exposure, and those living in agricultural communities like Salinas are likely to get a “double” dose from residues on their food as well as those drifting from neighboring fields.

In a statement released today, PAN scientist Emily Marquez, Ph.D., said:

“After switching to an organic diet, both urban and rural children had decreased levels of breakdown products of neurotoxic organophosphate insecticides in their urine. These results confirm previous findings, where an organic diet reduced organophosphate urinary metabolite levels — which have been associated with poorer neurodevelopment in children. Levels of the possibly carcinogenic herbicide 2,4-D were also reduced in the Oakland and Salinas kids who switched to an organic diet.

However, those living in Salinas children had a general trend of higher levels of pesticide breakdown products in their urine, even after changing their diet. Kids living in farming communities are often exposed to harmful chemicals from their food, and from the fields. And as reported in 2014 by the California Department of Public Health, a number of health-harming pesticides are still regularly used within a quarter of a mile of schools in farming communities across the state. As a result, rural children — particularly Latino children — are exposed to health-harming pesticides at higher rates.

Our farming system’s dependence on pesticide use is putting children in harm’s way through dietary and non-dietary routes. For the sake of this and future generations, we need to shift to farming practices that don’t rely on health-harming chemicals.”