Pesticides last longer in kids

July 27, 2009


Summer brings bounty in the fields and the gardens and that applies to the insects that feed off it – which leads the farmers and gardeners to reach for the means to control them. Pesticide exposure poses a health risk to us all, but particularly to children. Obviously children’s systems are more vulnerable to the toxic effects, but new research by the University of California at Berkeley has revealed that their susceptibility lasts much longer than expected.

A new born baby has only one-third of paraoxonase 1 (PON1), an enzyme critical to the detoxification of organophosphate pesticides, than the baby’s mother has. It was previously thought that PON1 enzyme activity in children approached adult levels by age 2, but the horrific figure this research has thrown up is that the enzyme level remained low in some children right up to the age of seven.

This has led the researchers to recommended that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re-evaluate the current standards for acceptable levels of pesticide exposure. For parents, it means being extra vigilant when using pesticides in the garden and making sure that children are in the house and the windows are closed until several hours after spraying. Organophosphate pesticides in products sold for use in homes, are severely restricted, mainly because of risks to children but are still available for agricultural use. If driving through, or living near, farmland where crop spraying takes place again keep windows closed to minimize exposure.


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