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The Dangers of Pesticides to Humans

Pesticides accumulate in the fat deposits in the body where they remain and cause damage. Infants and young children consuming breast milk ingest pesticides. Pregnant women can pass pesticides on to their fetus. Women who eat fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides, pass the pesticides on to their nursing children. Women who eat meat that has been injected with growth hormones and antibiotics, pass these chemicals on to their nursing children. Children eating foods that have been treated with hormones, antibiotics or pesticides, have them in their bodies.

‘A study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and published in the September 2005 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives shows eating organic foods provides children with “dramatic and immediate” protection from exposure to two organophosphate pesticides that have been linked to harmful neurological effects in humans.

The pesticides—malathion and chlorpyrifos—while restricted or banned for home use, are widely used on a variety of crops, and according to the annual survey by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program, residues of these organophosphate pesticides are still routinely detected in food items commonly consumed by young children.

Over a fifteen-day period, Dr. Chensheng “Alex” Lu and his colleagues from Emory University, the University of Washington, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measured exposure to malathion and chlorpyrifos in 23 elementary students in the Seattle area by testing their urine.

The participants, aged 3-11-years-old, were first monitored for three days on their conventional diets before the researchers substituted most of the children’s conventional diets with organic foods for five consecutive days. The children were then given their normal foods and monitored for an additional seven days.

“Immediately after substituting organic food items for the children’s normal diets, the concentration of the organophosphorus pesticides found in their bodies decreased substantially to non-detectable levels until the conventional diets were re-introduced,” said Dr. Lu.

During the days when children consumed organic diets, most of their urine samples contained zero concentration of the malathion metabolite. However, once the children returned to their conventional diets, the average malathion metabolite concentration increased to 1.6 parts per billion with a concentration range from 5 to 263 parts per billion. A similar trend was seen for chlorpyrifos. The average chlorpyrifos metabolite concentration increased from one part per billion during the organic diet days to six parts per billion when children consumed conventional food.

A second study, published in the February 2006 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, confirmed these results. Once again, another group of 23 children from the Seattle area aged 3-11 years participated. When the conventionally grown foods in their diets were replaced with comparable organically grown foods, concentrations of compounds in the children’s urine indicating exposure to organophosphate pesticides immediately dropped to non-detectable levels and remained non-detectable until they once again consumed conventionally grown foods.

The children were first monitored for three days on their normal diet. Then, most of the conventionally grown items in their diets were replaced with comparable organically grown items for 5 days. Substituted items included fruits and vegetables, juices, processed fruit and vegetable products and wheat or corn based products. Lastly, the children returned to their normal diets for a further 7 days.

Researchers analyzed two spot daily urine samples, first-morning and before-bedtime voids, throughout the 15-day study period. Urinary concentrations of compounds indicating the children were ingesting the organophosphorus pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos, became undetectable immediately after the introduction of organic diets and remained undetectable until the conventional diets were reintroduced.’ Emory University Health Sciences Center

The repetition of this research clearly demonstrates that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides, which are commonly used in agricultural production. Organophosphate pesticides account for approximately half the insecticide use in the U.S. and are applied to many conventionally grown foods important in children’s diets.

Organophosphates work by poisoning the nervous system in pests.

Pesticides effects on humans are damage to the nervous system, reproductive system and other organs, developmental and behavioral abnormalities, disruption of hormone function as well as immune dysfunction.


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