Rutgers professor warns of harmful pesticides
Nancy Fielder, a professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and deputy director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), said studies have shown that pesticides that use chlorpyrifos may harm children’s physical and mental health, according to a University press release.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination survey found that 96% of children sampled were exposed to chlorpyrifos, according to the release.
“A child’s brain development is most vulnerable in utero through early childhood. Such young children do not have the same ability to detoxify chemicals as adults. If a pregnant mother ingests or breathes in the chemical, it can cross through the placenta and affect the fetus. This is of particular concern for pregnant women who work in agriculture and for children who are exposed to the chemical residues on foods that are sprayed, like fruits and vegetables, and in drinking water,” Fielder said.
Babies exposed to chlorpyrifos may experience increased risk for developmental conditions, including low birth weight, lower mental and motor development, lower intelligence, as well as ADHD and autism, according to the release.
These risks persist into middle childhood, causing lower cognitive ability, Fielder said.
“Exposures to chlorpyrifos as well as other organophosphate pesticides is greater in low and middle-income countries, such as Thailand, where we are currently conducting a birth cohort study. This study will help provide greater specificity about potential windows of vulnerability during pregnancy and the impact on neurodevelopment,” Fielder said.
To prevent exposure to chlorpyrifos, parents whose apartments and homes are sprayed with pesticides can start asking their landlord what pesticide they use, and how it is licensed and sprayed, according to the release.
“Even though companies say you can reenter your home a few hours after the application, there is good evidence that the chemicals are still present. It’s best to wait at least a day, if you can, before returning home. Families with young kids should put away or remove items that they might touch or put in their mouths, especially stuffed animals, which can be coated by the chemical for days. Carpets, which likewise can collect chemicals, should be removed if possible," Fielder said.
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