Daily News Archive
Early Child Development Harmed By Common Products Including Pesticides
(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2004) A new report released
in June by Environment California Research & Policy Center, "Growing
Up Toxic: Chemical Exposures and Increases in Developmental Disease"
pulls together the latest science and offers recommendations to prevent
the potential harm to children posed by pesticides and chemicals found
in common household products.
The report links together compelling scientific studies that together
paint a vivid picture of some of the most pressing health concerns our
country faces today. The report focuses on four categories of common
household products that contain chemicals that either have not been
tested for safety, or have been linked to adverse health effects that
may be harming children. The categories include phthalates, flame retardants,
polycarbonate plastic, and pesticides.
Phthalates are used
in shampoos, perfumes, beauty products, food containers, plastic wrap,
and children’s toys, and are linked to premature births and male
reproductive problems. Flame retardants, used in foams, plastics, and
electronics, are linked to impaired learning and behavior disorders.
Hard polycarbonate containing bisphenol-A, one of the top 50 production-volume
chemicals in the U.S., is used for baby bottles, drinking water bottles,
and food containers, and is known to potentially act as a synthetic
substitute for the female hormone estrogen.
The report collected
a number of studies on the consequences of pesticide exposure as depicted
in the following excerpts:
- Pesticides and
their breakdown products are commonly found in people. In a recent
study, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention found 13
different pesticides in the average American, out of 23 pesticides
under consideration. (See Daily
- One study found
an association between miscarriages caused by birth defects and commercial
pesticide applications within a nine square mile area around the home.
Another study found that boys conceived during the period of most
intense application of the herbicide 2,4-D were five times more likely
to have a birth defect than boys with no unusual exposure. (See Beyond
Pesticides Press Release.)
- Children exposed
to agricultural pesticides show deficiencies in intellectual development,
stamina, balance, hand-eye coordination, and short-term memory. (See
Daily News story.)
- The EPA banned
household uses of the pesticides chlorpyrifos and diazinon in 2001.
It appears that this health-protective action had a nearly immediate
effect. After 2001, mothers in New York City had lower levels of these
compounds in their bodies and, remarkably, gave birth to heavier and
longer babies than those born before the pesticide ban. (See Daily
"Open the doors
to the average home where children live, and you are apt to find the
usual trappings of childhood—toys strewn about on the floor, cupboards
secured with safety locks, baby gates at the top of the stairs,"
said Yana Kucher, co-author of the report. "Yet while parents endeavor
to stimulate their children’s development and protect them from
hazards, the very and products their children are surrounded by are
likely exposing them to chemicals that could harm their development."
"For years, chemicals manufacturers have insisted that ‘the
dose makes the poison,’ and that human exposures to chemicals
in products were too minute to cause harm," said Kucher. "However,
recent science shows us that chemicals’ effects on humans may
be much more complicated.”
In June 2004, Assembly member Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) introduced
legislation that will ban hazardous phthalates from cosmetics and personal
care products (AB 2012). The legislation will also help consumers make
informed choices about products they purchase, by requiring that manufacturers
fully disclose the chemical ingredients in products. "Preventing
birth defects is far more important than producing nail polish that
doesn't chip," said Assembly Member Chu.
The report authors advocate several policy changes to help protect the
- Phasing out chemicals
that persist in the environment, accumulate in organisms, or for which
evidence of potential harm to human health exists;
- Requiring chemical
manufacturers to disclose to the state the techniques to detect their
chemicals, in the air, water, and our bodies;
- Requiring chemical
manufacturers to supply the state and federal government with toxicity
data for their products, including low-dose effects on development
- Encouraging the
federal government to stop lobbying on behalf of US industry against
the new European Union chemicals policy and to take a stronger stand
for public health.
ACTION: Support the above recommendations and contact
your local Assembly members and suggest they introduce similar legislation
as Assembly member Judy Chu. Work with Beyond Pesticides to pose opposition
to EPA’s continued registration of the worst chemicals, to begin
requiring data from manufacturers on endocrine disruptors, and demand
that inerts be listed on all product labels. See Beyond Pesticides Alerts
pages and Watchdogging
the Government for regular updates.