Experts call for blanket Organophosate ban to protect children’s health.
An expert panel of toxicologists have recommended that the evidence of harm to children’s and pregnant women’s health from exposure to an entire class of pesticides is so compelling that they should be banned.
Organophosphates increase the risk of reduced IQ, autism, and memory and attention deficits in prenatal children which is associated with chronic low level exposures to pregnant women. There are no safe levels of exposure to OPs. OPs are also associated with increased breast, thyroid, and ovarian cancer.
OPs were originally developed in the 1930s for use in nerve gas agents but later adapted for pesticide use at lower doses. Sarin is one of the most notorious never agents. Over 10,000 tonnes of OP pesticides are sprayed in 24 EU countries each year, with higher usage in the USA. Pesticides are responsible for up to 200,000 deaths each year through poisoning with 99% of these deaths in the developing world, where health and safety regulations may not be strictly followed.
One of the papers authors, Bruce Lanphear, said: “We found no evidence of a safe level of organophosphate pesticide exposure for children. Well before birth, organophosphate pesticides are disrupting the brain in its earliest stages, putting them on track for difficulties in learning, memory and attention, effects which may not appear until they reach school-age. Government officials around the world need to listen to science, not chemical lobbyists.”
Children and the developing foetus are most at risk from exposure to low levels of OP exposure, with children of agricultural workers more likely to come into contact with OPs like chlorpyrifos. High levels of chlorpyrifos has been found in house dust of children living near to farm land and residues were found on the children’s hands and on work boots. Obviously, those working with OPs are most exposed, up to 10 times greater levels of chlorpyrifos was found in the urine of those who spray pesticides, work on farms or live in agriculture communities.
Although in Europe, 33 of the 39 OP pesticides considered most hazardous to health have been banned, but people are still exposed due to bioaccumulation in the air, soil and water. There is still a long way to go especially given the potential for pesticides to be hormone disruptors.