Picture of Medha Chandra

Medha Chandra

“Little Things Matter” in India, too

We’ve often talked about how low-dose exposure to pesticides are a serious cause for concern, and at the root of many health problems for children. Last fall, Dr. Bruce Lanphear — a physician and professor of pediatrics from Simon Fraser University in Canada — released a video entitled Little Things Matter, clearly illustrating the impact of chemicals on children’s developing brains.

I’m very happy to report that Dr. Lanphear recently toured India to spread the word about the harms of low-dose exposures to pesticides and other common environmental toxins. Over the course of the five-city tour he met with medical students, fellow doctors, the media, concerned community groups and policymakers.

Tackling the “Terrible Twenty”

The tour is part of a joint campaign of PAN India, PAN Asia Pacific and PAN North America, focusing on the impact of highly hazardous pesticides on children’s health.

Last year we identified a list of 20 pesticides especially hazardous to children around the world, and launched a global initiative to tackle these Terrible Twenty. Some of the pesticides on the list are banned in the U.S., but some are still in use here. One example is chlorpyrifos, the brain-harming pesticide that EPA officials now say they may finally take off the market by early next year.

PAN allies and partners involved in the campaign are pressuring decisionmakers in more than a dozen countries to curb the use of these particular pesticides. The campaign also involves discussions and dialogues with parents and medical professionals to make the case about the impact of pesticides on children’s health.

Uniquely vulnerable

Children’s unique vulnerabilities, especially during critical moments of their development, make them more susceptible to the impact of pesticides — as well as other environmental toxins like lead and mercury.

These impacts are not just devastating for the children in terms of health conditions such as developmental delays, brain impacts, asthma and cancer, but can also have huge social and economic impacts at the population level. As Dr. Lanphear said in an interview with the respected Indian newspaper The Hindu,

“Products with toxic chemicals are cheaper in the short term but the long-term cost to society is devastating. For instance, lead poisoning cost the U.S. $50 billion every year in reduction in lifetime earnings, special education, in treatment for radiation, and criminal behavior.”

Dr. Lanphear also stressed in his presentations across India that a different model of agricultural production is both possible and profitable — a message core to our work here in the U.S. as well. We look forward to hearing more from Dr. Lanphear about his experiences in India — stay tuned!

Picture of Medha Chandra

Medha Chandra

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