(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2011) A new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics reveals that roughly one in six children in the U.S. have developmental disabilities, particularly those that are linked to environmental exposure, which showcases the need for stricter policies to reduce the use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals. The study is based on National Health Interview Surveys of children aged 3 to 17 years over the 12-year period of 1997-2008.
Though the report does not indicate a specific reason for the alarming increase, the two fastest growing developmental diseases are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism, which are both highly linked to pesticides. Over the course of the 12-year study, ADHD rose from 5.7% to 7.6%, and the rate of autism went from 0.2% to 0.7%.
This adds to the growing database of studies that show our current approach to restricting pesticide use through risk assessment-based mitigation measures is not working. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) risk assessment fails to look at chemical mixtures, synergistic effects, certain health endpoints (such as endocrine disruption), disproportionate effects to vulnerable population groups, and regular noncompliance with product label directions.
Emerging science demonstrates that the amount of toxic chemicals in the environment that cause developmental and neurological damage are contributing to the rise of physical and mental effects being found in children. Regulatory restrictions must be tied to alternatives assessment that move chemicals off the market or prohibit their marketing as safer approaches and technologies emerge.
Earlier this month, a study published in Health Affairs journal found that environmental disease in children costs around $76.6 billion in 2008. Three independent studies published in Environmental Health Studies last month found that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides is linked to IQ deficits in school-aged children.
Last summer, Beyond Pesticides launched the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database to capture the range of diseases linked to pesticides through epidemiologic studies. The database, which currently contains 383 entries of epidemiologic and laboratory exposure studies, will be continually updated to track the emerging findings and trends. To view the database, go to www.beyondpesticides.org/health.
For more information on children’s exposure to pesticides, including information on how you can protect your family from pesticides and the latest studies and news on this topic, see Beyond Pesticides Children and Schools page and Safer Choice program page.