Monday, January 18th, 2021

Pesticides as Dangerous as Secondhand Smoke to Kids

Published on December 6, 2015 by   ·   No Comments


Julie Fidler | Natural Society

Early exposure to agricultural pesticides may harm children’s lungs – even more than secondhand smoke – researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, are saying.

The study links organophosphate pesticide metabolites in the urine of 279 children aged 6 months to 5 years living in Salinas Valley with decreased lung function. The area is a hub for lettuce, grapes, orchids and many more crops.

The children were part of the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS). The longitudinal study followed children from before birth up to adolescence.

Researchers gave children a test to assess their ability to take deep breaths and then expel the air at the age of 7. For every tenfold increase in concentrations of organophosphate metabolites, a 159-millileter decrease in lung function – about 8% less air – when blowing out a candle was observed by researchers.

The decrease in breathing ability is similar to that caused by exposure to secondhand smoke from mothers.

The findings didn’t change even after the team accounted for smoking by the kids’ mothers, air pollution, mold, pets in the home and other factors.

“The kids in our study with higher pesticide exposure had lower breathing capacity,” study author Rachel Raanan said a university news release. “If the reduced lung function persists into adulthood, it could leave our participants at greater risk of developing respiratory problems like COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease].” [1]

Earlier studies had focused on the harmful effects of organophosphate pesticides on adult agricultural workers. These chemicals target the nervous system.

“This is the first evidence suggesting that children exposed to organophosphates have poorer lung function,” said study senior author Brenda Eskenazi, a professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health at UC Berkeley.

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