Pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health hazards, ranging from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to chronic impacts like cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption. Acute dangers – such as nerve, skin, and eye irritation and damage, headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and systemic poisoning – can sometimes be dramatic, and even occasionally fatal.
By Dr. Mercola
More than one billion pounds of pesticides are used in the US each year, an amount that has quintupled since 1945. This includes 20,000 products made from varying formulations of more than 1,000 chemicals, sprayed everywhere from farm fields and gardens to playgrounds and schools.
It should be revealing that one commonly used type of pesticide, organophosphates, were first developed as nerve gas during World War II. They work by inhibiting cholinesterase, an enzyme that regulates a key messenger in your brain called acetylcholine.
In effect, these poisons disrupt the signals between neurons, an action that has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's in humans. In children, there is increasing evidence that these pesticides are especially damaging, not only at high exposure levels but also at low, chronic levels to which millions are exposed.
Please understand that this article documents the damage from pesticides that have been present for many decades. It does not go into what many scientists, like Dr. Huber, feel is even a greater threat, which is the glyphosate that is being used at nearly one billion pounds per year — but has not been around long enough to generate this type of data.
The CHAMACOS Study: Even Tiny Amounts of Pesticides May Harm Kids' Brains
The recently published CHAMACOS Study followed hundreds of pregnant women living in Salinas Valley, California, an agricultural mecca that has had up to a half-million pounds of organophosphates sprayed in the region per year.
The children were followed through age 12 to assess what impact the pesticides had on their development. It turns out the impact was quite dramatic, and mothers' exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy was associated with:
- Shorter duration of pregnancy
- Poorer neonatal reflexes
- Lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children
- Increased risk of attention problems in children
Writing in The Nation magazine, reporter Susan Freinkel explained:
“Prenatal exposure to even tiny amounts of organophosphates—in the parts per trillion range—can have significant impacts on the brain, the CHAMACOS study suggests. …From infancy on, the children of the mothers with the highest levels of organophosphates were at the greatest risk for neurodevelopmental problems.
That association was present at every stage the researchers checked in on the kids. At 6 months, they were more likely to have poorer reflexes. At 2, they were at higher risk for pervasive developmental disorder, an autism-related condition, like Asperger's, in which children have trouble connecting to others.
At 5, they were more likely to be hyperactive and have trouble paying attention. At 7, they scored lower on IQ tests, by an average of seven points—the equivalent of being a half-year behind their peers.”
Research published, ironically, the same day as the CHAMACOS study also found that prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos (Dursban, a pesticide once used to control cockroaches in inner cities) was associated with lower IQs and poorer working memory in three-year-olds.
A senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who is now an official at the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the combination of studies come “about as close as I can imagine to absolute proof” of the damaging effects of pesticides on children's brains.
Make sure to read the rest of the article at Article.Mercola.