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Pesticides Linked to ADHD

by: Jill Richardson

Mon May 17, 2010 at 18:38:11 PM PDT

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Here's a shocking headline: Pesticides are bad for you. Really? Who woulda guessed? From CNN: "Study: ADHD linked to pesticide exposure." Here's the core of the story:

Researchers measured the levels of pesticide byproducts in the urine of 1,139 children from across the United States. Children with above-average levels of one common byproduct had roughly twice the odds of getting a diagnosis of ADHD, according to the study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics.

The pesticides in question are organophosphates and it's no big newsflash that they are harmful to humans. They are nerve toxins and they aren't a new class of pesticides. Rachel Carson wrote about them in Silent Spring in 1962. From the article:

Environmental Protection Agency regulations have eliminated most residential uses for the pesticides (including lawn care and termite extermination), so the largest source of exposure for children is believed to be food, especially commercially grown produce. Adults are exposed to the pesticides as well, but young children appear to be especially sensitive to them, the researchers say.

Detectable levels of pesticides are present in a large number of fruits and vegetables sold in the U.S., according to a 2008 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited in the study. In a representative sample of produce tested by the agency, 28 percent of frozen blueberries, 20 percent of celery, and 25 percent of strawberries contained traces of one type of organophosphate. Other types of organophosphates were found in 27 percent of green beans, 17 percent of peaches, and 8 percent of broccoli.

Buying organic for foods like berries, apples, celery, and peaches is a way for individuals to deal with this problem, but this is a problem that nobody should have. As I said before, it's not news that organophosphates are bad for you. These pesticides should have been banned decades ago.

Pesticide Action Network has released a press release about this study, which I've included below. They also recommend a few sites for more info:
What's On My Food
Pesticides and Children
The Truth About Organophosphates

Jill Richardson :: Pesticides Linked to ADHD
Study links common pesticides on food to ADHD in kids

Exposure is nearly ubiquitous, children with higher levels of exposure are nearly twice as likely to have ADHD

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - A new study out of Montreal and Harvard shows that even tiny, allowable amounts of a common pesticide class can have dramatic effects on brain chemistry. Organophosphate insecticides (OP's) are among the most widely used pesticides in the U.S. They work by interfering with brain signaling in insects. Initially developed as chemical warfare agents during World War II, slightly less toxic versions of this chemical class were later brought to market as agricultural insecticides.

OPs have long been understood to be particularly toxic for children, but this is the first study to examine their effects across a representative population with average levels of exposure. Children are at particular risk for two reasons:  they are exposed to higher levels of chemicals, and their bodies are biochemically less adept at detoxification.

Dr. Susan Kegley, consulting scientist with Pesticide Action Network North America explains: "When it comes to pesticides, children are among the most vulnerable -- pound for pound, they drink 2.5 times more water, eat 3-4 times more food, and breathe twice as much air as adults. They also face exposure in the womb and via breast milk. Add to this the fact that children are unable to detoxify some chemicals and you begin to understand just how vulnerable early childhood development is."

94% of children tested in the study showed detectable levels of OP pesticide metabolites in their urine. Of these, children with the highest levels had higher likelihood of being diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The study was designed to get an accurate picture of the average child's exposure and risk scenario. Where previous studies looked primarily at populations like farmworkers, who face especially high exposure rates, this one is based on a representative sample of the U.S. population taken from the government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

OPs are the most widely used class of insecticides in the U.S. They are also among the most acutely toxic. "We've known for a long time that they poison farmworkers at higher doses, now we have a window into their lower-dose effects on the broader population," comments Kegley.

"Buying organics helps to reduce exposure - especially in critical developmental windows; but we can't really shop our way out of this," according to Dr. Margaret Reeves, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network North America. "This is a public health issue, and a good governance issue - not a consumer choice issue. By saying the solution here is to 'buy organic' we are, in effect, saying that people on a tight food budget have no right to feed their children safe food and that farmworkers have no right to a non-toxic workplace. We know how to farm without OPs, but farmers need us as citizens to support policy approaches that will fund the shift to sustainable farming and safe food production. What this study indicates is that our children need a safe and sustainable food system most of all."

According to the University of California' California Agriculture journal, less-toxic alternatives to OP's include the use of: (1) pheromones -- chemicals secreted by insects for communication -- to disrupt insect mating; (2) cultural controls like using crop rotations, manipulating planting dates, reducing of pest habitats and improving crop vigor; and (3) less toxic, more pest-specific alternative insecticides.

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more chem in food (4.00 / 2)
Study suggests processed meat a real health risk

By Julie Steenhuysen (Reuters) - Mon May 17

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Eating bacon, sausage, hot dogs and other processed meats can raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that identifies the real bad boys of the meat counter.

Eating unprocessed beef, pork or lamb appeared not to raise risks of heart attacks and diabetes, they said, suggesting that salt and chemical preservatives may be the real cause of these two health problems associated with eating meat.

The study, an analysis of other research called a meta-analysis, did not look at high blood pressure or cancer, which are also linked with high meat consumption.

They found that on average, each 1.8 oz (50 grams) daily serving of processed meat a day -- one to two slices of deli meats or one hot dog -- was associated with a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.

They found no higher heart or diabetes risk in people who ate only unprocessed red meats.

Makes sense so far. But:

The American Meat Institute objected to the findings, saying it was only one study and that it stands in contrast to other studies and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

"At best, this hypothesis merits further study. It is certainly no reason for dietary changes," James Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute, said in a statement.

Is that bullshit? I think that quote is processed bullshit. I DON'T think the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating more processed red meat.

I have trouble with reports (4.00 / 2)
telling consumers which organic products are best based on pesticide residues in conventional products.

Residues vary depending on where the crop is grown. Less fungicides are use out West as compared to East Cost where humidity is high, so conventional produce from from West will on average contain less pesticides than conventional produce from East.

These reports ignore the  environmental damage done by all conventional farming; you can't eat organic cotton but conventional cotton uses more toxic pesticides than any other crop on a per acre basis.  Your jeans are bad for the environment.

I'm more concerned with the pesticide exposure of field workers than I am for some yuppie shopper; with the exception of baby food and food for small children.

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