Pesticides still lurk.
Your city may have banned these pest-killing chemicals, but they continue to quietly cause illness in society.
The Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) recently conducted a review of 142 studies on pesticides, and found their use is associated with disorders of breathing, brain development and reproduction.
“The bans are a great step in the right direction,” says Dr. Kate Bassil, an epidemiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, “but there is still an opportunity to decrease exposure.”
Pesticides are still used in many ways: to kill bugs on house plants, in farming, in flea and tick products, and on lawns, explains Bassil, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto and an author of the review.
“The message from our report is, look at opportunities wherever possible to decrease exposure.”
When a pregnant woman is being exposed to pesticides it can have negative effects on her developing baby — leading to low birth weight or abnormal reactions to stimuli.
“In the uterus, while the baby is developing, pesticides can cross the blood-brain barrier and impact the developing brain,” says Bassil.
The review also suggests that ADHD is more common in children who had higher levels of pesticide exposure during their mother’s pregnancy.
Farm employees show an increased risk of asthma from working near pesticides 2,4-D and glyphosate.
“One simple message that often comes up is about the fruits and vegetables we eat,” says Bassil.
“Where possible, choose organic, but that is not always affordable, so wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly.”
The OCFP suggests that if you are exposed to pesticides in an agricultural setting, use personal protection equipment and change your clothes after work.