Pesticides 101: Learn the Dangers

It’s a fact. Kids today are sicker than they were a generation ago, and according to the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), pesticides are a part of the reason why.

“From childhood cancers to birth defects and asthma, a wide range of childhood diseases and disorders are on the rise, and public health experts tell us we have a “silent pandemic” of learning disabilities and disorders” they suggest.  But these pesticides aren’t just affecting children, their impact is far-reaching, affecting all of us.  On average, Americans are exposed to between 10 and 13 pesticide residues on their food and drink every day.

A full report goes into explicit detail about the impact that pesticides can have on our health, and while this information can be painful to learn, it is important to remember that knowledge is power.  Here are a few key findings:

  • Neurotoxic pesticides are contributing to the rising rates of ADHD, autism, widespread declines in IQ and other measures of cognitive function. Over the last 15 years, the rate of U.S. children being born with come kind of developmental disability has grown by 17%.
  • Pesticide exposure also contributes to rising rates of childhood cancer, birth defects and early puberty. Overall incidence of leukemia and childhood brain tumors, the two most common types of childhood cancer, have risen 40% and 50% since 1975. Studies suggest that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy and early childhood are contributing to this trend.
  • Emerging science indicates that pesticides may be important contributors to the current epidemic of childhood asthma, obesity and diabetes, and today, more than 7 million children, or about 1 in 10 kids, are affected by asthma, up from 2 million in 1980.

Scientists have understood for decades that children are particularly vulnerable to the harms of pesticide exposure. Quickly growing bodies take in more of everything; they eat, breathe and drink more, pound for pound, than adults. Trends and emerging data show that these harms are real and getting worse, and cannot be explained away through diagnostic criteria or lifestyle choice.

In other words, genetics don’t change this quickly, the environment that are children are living in does.  And today, food crops are now hardwired to withstand increasing doses of pesticides, insecticides and weedkillers or engineered to produce these insecticides internally, within the plant itself.

So what’s a parent, a caretaker or a concerned American to do?  Thankfully, there is a lot. Protecting Kids From Pesticides Starts With Us, suggests PANNA.  And if you think about it, it truly does.  So lend your voice.  Do what you can, where you are, with what you have, so that together, we can create an environment in which are children can thrive – for the sake of our families, our communities and our country.

Want to learn more? Pesticides 101 is a great resource.  To learn more, please click here.

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