Last week the French group Generations Futures announced findings from a small biomonitoring study of children living and learning near agricultural fields. Eighty percent of the children tested had been exposed to agricultural pesticides in the previous three months.
Researchers took hair samples from 30 children living or attending school within a 1/10 of a mile of agricultural areas. Analysis of the samples found “traces of 53 pesticides believed to affect the hormone system of mammals, leading to cancerous tumors, birth defects, developmental disorders and learning disabilities in humans.”
This study comes shortly after a groundbreaking report from California's Department of Public Health (DPH) was release last month, documenting pesticide use near schools. State officials found over 500,000 lbs of hazardous pesticides used within ¼ mile of California schools, putting more than 500,000 children in harm’s way. Similar to the France study many of the pesticides used near California schools are known to cause cancer and brain and nervous system damage.
Children especially vulnerable
Scientists and public health officials are increasingly expressing concern about whether current pesticide regulations are adequate to protect children’s health. Dr. Richard Jackson, MD, MPH — a pediatrician and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental — highlighted this issue in his response to the DPH report:
“Children are especially vulnerable to the impacts of pesticides. They drink more water, breathe more air, and eat more food pound-for-pound than adults, so they absorb higher concentrations of pesticides.”
As Generations Futures spokesperson Francois Veillerette stated, “It’s not the dose that’s the problem, but the accumulation of pesticides causing a cocktail effect”.
Speaking up about pesticide drift
At the end of April, PAN submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from thousands of supporters demanding better assessment of the risk to children's’ health from drifting pesticides. And we'll be mobilizing more action to keep driving the point home: current pesticide rules aren’t adequately protecting children’s health.
Photo credit: iStock/JayBoivin