Pesticides are chemicals designed to kill, control, or repel insects, plant diseases, weeds, rodents, and germs. (Most pesticides are used in agriculture production, to killing pests found on hundreds of different crops including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and cereal grains.) All these foods form a good majority of North America’s diet, and the majority of these foods consumed contain pesticide residues. Pesticides are also used to get rid of unwanted pests in homes, schools, and parks. All of these chemicals are especially harmful to children because they can routinely come in contact with various pesticides through their distinctive diet and play activities. Water and apple juice are proven to contain various harmful chemicals. In the surroundings children experience, the food they eat, and the liquids they drink are all contaminated by pesticides.
According to the Natural Resources Defence Council, “pesticide exposure to adverse health effects including cancer, birth defects, reproductive harm, neurological and development toxicity, immunotoxicity, and disruption of the endocrine system.” Children are more likely to be affected by pesticides than adults because, they are strange eaters, they breath at a higher rate, and tend to spend more time on the ground were chemicals may settle and then enter a child’s body through breathing, orally, by touching something with a residue and then putting their fingers in their mouth, and through a child’s skin. Pesticides will drastically damage the future health of our children if people don’t act now.
CHILDREN’S HEALTH IS AT RISK THROUGH THE FOOD THEY EAT
Every year, tens of millions of pounds of carcinogenic, neurotoxic, immunotoxic, and otherwise hazardous pesticides are thrown onto foods that infants and children eat greater quantities than the average adult. These pesticides have been shown to cause reproductive defects in test animals, which cause poorly understood immune system responses, and others may effect the endocrine system. Pesticides have been widely used for years without any consideration of our environment and health. Today, we are using more pesticides than ever, so that we can have the perfect fruit or vegetable.
Pesticides are everywhere in the food children eat and the levels of toxicity are alarming. According to the Environmental Working Group, “every day, 1 million American children age 5 and under consume unsafe levels of a class of pesticides that can harm the developing brain and nervous system” Given this information the use of pesticides on food should be band, these children will continue to consume unsafe levels of toxins until new laws are made which won’t put children’s health at risk. According to the Public Voice for Food and Health Policy, over the past few years, pesticide use on fruits and vegetables has drastically risen, “per acre pesticide application rates increased by 125 percent over the past 25 years” The foods that cause the most children age 5 and under to exceed an unsafe daily dose of pesticides are apples, peaches and grapes. The FDA found “34 different pesticides on apples, 30 on grapes and, 28 on peaches” This means that the healthy foods that most children do eat are poisoned and do pose a threat to the well being of children. A study conducted by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration found these chemicals in food consumed mainly by children, “methyl parathion, dimethoate, chlorpyrifos, pirimiphos methyl and azinphos methyl” All these pesticides are highly toxic and pose a bigger threat to children than to adult’s because the current pesticide laws are not adequate enough to protect children. One reason children are more vulnerable to pesticides is that they weigh less; a little bit of poison to an adult is proportionally more to a child. In a 1998 analysis of government data conducted by the EWG concluded that ” over 1 million children consume more than the safe adult dose of organo-phosphates (insecticides that work on poisoning the nervous system)” This insecticide should not be used anymore because it has been proven to poison the nervous system. In the past forty years, at least 70,000 new chemicals have been released into the environment through new consumer and industrial products and food.
At the present time there is no specific health standard, established to evaluate children’s risks to toxins. The health risk tolerance standards for contaminates in food are based on a 155 pound adult male. Because of this adult standard the Environmental Protection Agency says ” that the lifetime level of cancer risk has already been exceeded for many children by age one.” The legal residues or amounts of pesticides allowed to remain in food are calculated with adults in mind. If a child consumed as many pesticide as the EPA permits, the risk of cancer could be hundreds of times what the EPA finds acceptable. According to NEWSWEEK,
“One reason children are particularly sensitive is that the same amount of a pesticide has a greater effect on a small body than a large one. Children are strange eaters. Dining on nothing but cherries one day, they may consume 10 times more food and in turn, become more sensitive because chemicals may initiate cancer more readily in the rapidly dividing cells of children than in the quiescent cells of adults. Neurotoxins can penetrate a child’s relatively porous blood-brain barrier, wreaking more damage on a nervous system still getting wired up than on one already formed.”
The EPA has identified about “70 carcinogenic pesticides currently registered for use on food. A subset of them, however, leave the vast majority of carcinogenic pesticide residues on foods that are heavily consumed by infants and children.” Which means that even if the government has the pesticides registered it is still harmful to a child’s health.
In conclusion, children are at a very high risk of becoming intoxicated by carcinogenic pesticides which can cause cancer, brain defects, damage to the nervous system, and birth defects. If producers do not reduce the amount of pesticide used on food which is highly consumed by children, more will become intoxicated and their health will be at great risk.
CHILDREN’S HEALTH IS AT RISK THROUGH THE LIQUIDS THEY DRINK
Water and apple juice are two major liquids children drink, and both may be contaminated, and if contaminated, pose a big threat to the health of children. Even though governments have made rules and regulations,
“water supplies are still contaminated with pesticides. Weed killers, bug killers and other pesticides still contaminate thousands of water supplies nationwide. For hundreds of Midwestern communities, pesticide runoff to rivers and streams produces tap water commonly contaminated with five or more weed killers during peak runoff each spring and summer. Communities using reservoirs are exposed to these mixtures year-round. Everyone who drinks the water is affected, including millions of babies who consume pesticides when parents feed them infant formula reconstituted with tap water.”
There are unsafe levels of pesticides in drinking water which threaten the health of our children, since the health risk tolerance standards for contaminates in water is based on a 155 pound adult male. All across North America, there have been reports of contaminated drinking water. Here are just a few : researchers in Iowa recently tested drinking water in July, 1998, and found ” the herbicides atrazine, cyanazine and metolachlor which are linked to a range of adverse health effects, including respiratory distress, cerebral palsy and impaired development.” Traces of herbicides are said to be linked to birth defects and reproductive problems in British Columbia and New Brunswick wells. According to Agriculture Canada, “of 54 wells found 11 were contaminated with Dinoseb, a highly toxic herbicide” Dinoseb was used for years with minimal restrictions on pea, bean, potato, and raspberry crops which seeped into the ground and in to wells. A review by the federal health and welfare department on Dinoseb, “indicates appreciable risk for birth defects, cataract formation and male reproductive effects.” This chemical should be banned from the market because of these serious health effects.
Pregnant women and infants in parts of rural Quebec face a health risk because their drinking water is contaminated by high concentrations of fertilizers and herbicides. A provincial Environment Department study shows that “indeed pregnant women and infants who drink from wells with high concentrations of nitrate are at an elevated risk, the study also revealed that 35 per cent of the wells had excessive concentrations of the herbicide metribuzine. The health effects associated with exposure to this herbicide range from skin irritations and digestive problems to cancer and birth deformities.” Infants, who drink formula mixed with tap water, “consume high amounts of water per unit of body weight and as a percentage of their diet. Surface water contaminated with carcinogenic herbicides presents a significant additional cancer risk to these young children.”
In a recent study on apple juice and pesticides, the EWG found that, “Infants and young children drink 15 to 21 times than the average American.” Most apple juice consumed in the United States is a blend of juices and concentrate from domestic and foreign sources. Many pesticides not registered in the U.S. are allowed for use on apples in foreign nations that supply apple juice to the United States. In recent data presented by supermarket sources “analyzed 25 samples of apple juice, examining 11 samples for benomyl, 7 for Alar, and all 25 samples for pesticides detectable with the standard Luke extraction method. Five of 11 samples were positive for benomyl and 4 of 7 samples were positive for Alar. In total, 14 of 25 samples were positive for one or more pesticides; 4 samples contained residues of two pesticides.” All these pesticides are toxic and can cause serious health problems.
In conclusion, even though we have come a long way, in technology and awareness of our health, we still have the threat of pesticides in the liquids our children drink. Water and apple juice are two main liquids children drink and both still have residues of pesticides which will harm them. There are many different health effects as a result of pesticide residues and children should not have to drink toxins. We need tighter rules and regulations on pesticides because they are putting a dent in our children’s future.
CHILDREN’S HEALTH IS AT RISK THROUGH HOUSEHOLD PESTICIDES
Every day, people all over North America use lethal chemicals to clean, kill off pests, and beautify their lawns. A review of thirty-seven children poisoned by organophosphate and carbamate pesticide revealed that “15 percent of these cases, children developed symptoms thirty-six hours after the house was sprayed.”
An EPA conducted study to estimate levels of exposure to selected household pesticides experienced by the general population concluded as follows, “Thirty-two different pesticides and degradation products were detected at least once in air samples taken inside and outside the home. The most frequently detected pesticides were the widely used household insecticides chlorpyritos, diazinon, and propoxur; ortho-phenylphenol, an active ingredient in disinfectants. Indoor air was found to have much higher concentrations of pesticides than outdoor air – a significant finding given that small children spend close to 90 percent of their time indoors. Overall, the study estimated that 85 percent of the total daily exposure to airborne pesticides was from breathing air inside the home.”
Another study published in the American Journal of Public Health examined air and surface residues following indoor treatment for fleas with the insecticide chlorpyritos (under the trade name Dursban). The results were as follows, “Three to seven hours after application, insecticide concentrations were found to be much higher in the infant breathing zone nearest the floor than in the more ventilated adult breathing zone. In addition, insecticide residues were found on the carpet twenty-four hours after application. Researchers estimated that the total amount of insecticide that infants would absorb (primarily their skin) up to twenty-four hours after application was ten to fifty times higher than what the EPA considers an acceptable exposure for adults.” With this critical information, it is clear that infants and children’s health is at great risk if they are exposed to such a situation. Children absorb the pesticide or pesticides through the skin from contaminated carpets and linens.
At home or in daycare, small children spend lots of time on the floor, where they come in contact with and ingest dust and soil. “Toddlers (under the age of five), through normal play and hand-mouth activity, ingest two and a half times more soil around the home than adults, and overall, children are estimated to consume 0.01g to 1.3g of soil every day.” Many people use all kinds of pesticides around the home which persist in dust, and those used on lawns, gardens, and nearby farms end up in soil and are brought into people’s houses by shoes and pets.
Pesticides are occasionally used in our children’s school’s to contend with cockroaches and ants in cafeterias, classrooms, and rodents in waste storage areas. While at school, children come in contact with dust particles and surfaces such as carpets, books, and plastics that could have pesticide residues. This means that even if pesticides are sprayed after school hours, children are still at great health risk. In the following two cases such an event has become reality. “In 1993, chlorpyrifos and dichlorvos were applied for ant control in North Powellhurst School in Oregon. Soon after, at least sixty-five individuals, including infants, children, pregnant teenagers, teachers, and school staff reported nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, massive headaches, rashes, dizziness, itching eyes, sore throats, and other symptoms.
The school was closed, cleaned and reopened, and eventually closed early because students and staff continued to experience health effects.” In 1992 the second case involved “children, teachers, and staff at New York’s Eastchester High School suffered headaches, eye and respiratory irritation, and nausea following their return to school after it had been sprayed for roach control with pesticides chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and resmethrin. The school was forced to close for three weeks to clean up the pesticide residues.” It is obvious that our children are at risk and will continue to be if people don’t smarten-up.
In conclusion, children are at risk through household pesticides at home, daycare, and school. Infants are at greater risk because they spend more time on the ground and put their fingers in their mouths after possibly coming into contact with pesticide residues on carpets or from the family pet. The threat is still there, and is very real. Pesticides will cause considerable damage in the health of our children’s future if we don’t act immediately.
Children and adults are exposed to pesticides everyday without even knowing it. Pesticides can cause many health problems, but especially for children, because there are no toxicity levels set for them. In the food that children eat there are low levels of toxins but since children are strange eaters they may be exposed to very high levels of pesticides. There are also pesticide residues in water and apple juice which are the two main liquids consumed by children. Household pesticides are know to cause health problems in children exposed to any toxins. As said before, pesticides are very harmful, and the use of them should be reduced drastically or more infants and children will become ill or even die.
National Resources Defense Council, “Our Children At Risk,” 1997, http://www.nrdc.org
Environmental Working Group, “Overexposed,” 1998, http://ewg.org
Aaron Derfel, “Farm runoff contaminating drinking water study finds,” THE GAZETTE, 17 May 1996.
Richard Wiles and Christopher Campbell, Pesticides in Children’s Food (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Working Group/The Tides Foundation, 1993)
Ken MaqQueen , “Toxic Herbicide Found in Well,” Vancouver Sun, 5 October 1990.
Sharon Begley and Mary Hager, :Better Watch Those Fresh Fruits,” Newsweek, 5 July 1993.
Grant Heilman, “Pesticides and Kids’ Risks”, Newsweek, 5 July 1993.
Children’s Health Environmental Coalition Network, “Children are not Miniature Adults”, 1996, www.CHECNet.org
Pesticide Action Network, “Herbicides Linked to Infant Health Problems”, 1998, www.panna.org
Associate Commitee on Scientific Criteria for Environmental Quality, “Epidemiologic Evidence of the Effects of Pesticides on Human Health in Canada”, 1985.
United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Drinkning Water Health Advisories, “Drinking Water Health Advisory : Pesticides”, 1989.
World Health Organization, “Public Health Impact of Pesticides used in Agriculture”, 1990.