How Do Pesticides Affect Our Children?
Pound for pound, children have much higher exposures to pesticides than adults do, just through normal daily activity. And what’s especially frightening is how vulnerable children’s brains are to pesticides during fetal and early childhood development.
Researchers are learning that children’s developmental processes are easily disrupted by small amounts of toxic chemicals; amounts that would be virtually harmless for adults.
Most people are “not aware of the hazards that the unthinking use of pesticides poses to their children,” says Philip Landrigan, dean for global health and a professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Pesticides include herbicides to kill weeds and insecticides, such as those sprayed to manage cockroaches and other pests.
Because children are growing quickly, Landrigan says, “they take into their bodies more of the pesticides that are in the food, water and air.” Plus, children roll around in the grass and put their fingers in their mouths, which greatly increases exposure.
Did you know that more than three million children under five die each year from environment-related causes and conditions? That statistic comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) and is a number we should not tolerate.
Why Are Pesticides So Toxic to Children?
The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) lists many reasons why pesticides are more toxic to children:
- An infant’s brain, nervous system, and organs are still developing after birth.
- A baby’s immature liver and kidneys cannot remove pesticides from the body as well as an adult’s liver and kidneys.
- Infants take more breaths per minute and have more skin surface relative to their body weight.
- Children often spend more time closer to the ground, touching baseboards and lawns where pesticides may have been applied.
- Children often eat and drink more relative to their body weight than adults. This can lead to a higher dose of pesticide residue per pound of body weight.
- Babies crawl on treated lawns and carpeting. Crawling may dislodge pesticide residue onto a baby’s skin. The baby also breathes in pesticide-laden dust.
- Young children are also more likely to put their fingers, toys, and other objects into their mouths.
Many of us are aware that strawberries are one of the fruits most heavily sprayed with pesticides, so we might buy organic strawberries whenever possible. But, most of us don’t get what applying pesticides and herbicides on our lawns is doing to our health, the health of our children, our pet’s health, and our environment.
Here’s Some Shocking News
Are you ready for this? Homeowners apply an estimated 78 million pounds of insecticide, herbicide and fungicide each year to their homes, lawn and gardens, according to the EPA. That’s up to 20 times higher than what’s used on agricultural lands.
And even scarier, according to the EPA, a recent study of pesticide exposure among children living in major U.S. metropolitan areas, found traces of garden chemicals in 99% of the 110 children tested.
Babies are being born at considerable risk due to the toxic levels of their mothers. A 2004 study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed blood samples from the umbilical cords of newborn babies contained an average of 287 toxins, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides, and many other carcinogens and neurotoxins.
Choosing Organics Is Getting Easier with Consumers Demanding It
Choosing organics at the grocery store has gotten much easier in the past 10 years, and much less expensive. Choosing organics in the lawn care industry isn’t quite there yet, but we are hoping with the recent publicity of the Monsanto trial, that consumers will rise up and demand organic treatments for their lawns.
An increased demand will make choosing organics easier, and it will make organic products more affordable. At Greenwise, we don’t want to be the only organic lawn care firm in town. We’d love it if organics became the norm rather than the exception.
Greenwise Can Help You Wade Through the Information on Pesticides
If you have a landscaper, do you know what they are spraying or applying to your lawn? It’s okay to ask. We can help you navigate the complicated array of information that’s out there.
We’ll help you understand what to look for on the labels of products and what terms to look out for, so you can ask your lawn care person. We’ll share alternatives with you, so you can make safe choices for you and your family, not to mention your local community, because let’s face it, what we put on our lawn doesn’t just affect our lawn, it affects our neighbor’s lawn and our neighbors down the street.
When we use pesticides, it’s not in a vacuum. As we try to teach the kids in our lives, our actions have consequences. We know choosing organics isn’t always the easiest choice, but it is the safest choice.
We have worked hard to educate our clients on what it means to have an organic lawn. As landscapers, we know our clients want and expect that perfect, weed-free lawn. But, when we teach our clients about organics, we’ve found they are more patient and supportive of our organic process. They understand an organic approach is just that, a process, and aren’t expecting a gorgeous lawn overnight. Our clients may want a beautiful lawn, but they give more precedence to having a safe lawn for themselves, their pets, and their children.
Do you want to learn more about pesticides and how they affect your children and pets? Click here.
“I can’t recommend Greenwise enough. Not only will your yard look amazing, but you’ll be protecting your health from harmful chemicals. Just Google glyphosates and you’ll be shocked by what you read. I feel very fortunate to have a truly organic local lawn care service. Greenwise goes above and beyond.”
‑‑ Lori D., a Greenwise client