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Researchers Study Impact of Pesticides On Children's Mental Development
(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2004) University of North Dakota researchers have launched a study to find out whether pesticide exposure has an impact on children's cognition and mental development. The two-year study is funded in part by a $100,000 grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Science.

The team, led by principal investigators Dr. Tom Petros and Dr. Patricia Moulton, both researcher at UND, will examine the impact of chronic exposure to pesticides in children seven-twelve years of age on their memory, ability to pay attention, motor skills and performance on school-related achievement tests. The study will look at children throughout northeastern North Dakota.

Two groups will be tested: one with people who live on or next to a farm and one with those who live at least one mile away from any farm. "We're taking 64 kids that live on a farm or next to a farm or active field and we're comparing them to 64 kids that live in a city. We're bringing them into a lab or we can go out to their town," Dr. Moulton explained to The Grand Forks Herald . The results will be published and shared with farm families throughout the state, Dr. Moulton said.

This grant comes only months after Greenpeace India released a study that found a strong link between pesticide exposure and cognitive abilities among farmers' children in India. The study revealed serious mental development disorders that ranged from severely impaired analytical abilities, motor skills, concentration and memory among the children in the chemical-intensive cotton belts of India (See Daily News). The Greenpeace study echoed the findings of Dr. Elizabeth Guillette who studied children of the Yaqui Valley. The Yaqui Valley is one of Mexico's largest agricultural areas and has had high pesticide use since the 1950s. Dr. Guillette's study compared these children to those of a town in the foothills, which is nearly identical except it has no agricultural industry and virtually no pesticide use. The children exhibited significant and disturbing neurological differences; the valley children are far behind those of the foothills in physical coordination, energy and learning capabilities.

For more information on pesticides and children, check out Beyond Pesticides' Children and Schools program page. To read the original press release from UND, click here.

TAKE ACTION: Children face greater risk from pesticide residues on food than adults due to their developing organ systems. Beyond Pesticides offers a plethora of non-toxic alternatives to pesticides. Learn how you can protect your children and loved ones from the effects of pesticides in your home, on your lawns, in schools, in hospitals and other public places. See Beyond Pesticides Alternative Fact Sheets, How-To Factsheets, information on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in schools, information on organic agriculture, and any of our other available materials and publications.