Daily News Archive
UN Report Says
Pesticide Poisoning Disproportionately Affects Children
(Beyond Pesticides, October 14, 2004) Pesticide
poisoning is a serious health problem that disproportionately affects
infants and children, said a report released last week by three United
Nations agencies. The groups urge that steps be taken to minimize children's
exposure to pesticides.
An estimated 1 million to 5 million cases of pesticide poisonings occur
each year, resulting in several thousand fatalities, many of which are
children, according to the report, Childhood
Pesticide Poisoning: Information for Advocacy and Action, published
by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),
UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
and the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the report, children face higher risks from pesticides
than adults because they may be more susceptible and because they are
exposed to more of the chemicals over the course of their lifetime.
Most of the poisonings take place in rural areas of developing countries,
where safeguards typically are inadequate or lacking altogether. Although
developing nations use just a quarter of the world's production of pesticides,
99 percent of the deaths due to pesticide poisoning occur those nations.
Diet and poverty are two of the major sources of exposure for children,
the report says. Food and water containing pesticide residues may be
a source of chronic, low-level pesticide exposure. Additionally, growing
food on or near contaminated soils puts children at risk. Incorrect
storage of pesticides in the field or the household may also contaminate
food or water.
In poor families where children help on family farms where pesticides
are used, pesticide users, including teenagers, may lack access to protective
equipment or receive little or no training. Additionally, in many developing
countries, the labelling and advertising of pesticides is often uncontrolled
To minimize risk, the UN agencies urge reducing and eliminating possible
sources of pesticide exposure to children and home and at work, keeping
such chemicals out their reach, and cutting down on the use of agricultural
pesticides through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Other steps to
reduce the pesticide exposure include training health workers to recognize
and manage pesticide poisoning, training people to use pesticides safely,
and addressing all aspects of pesticide management from manufacturing
until use or disposal.
For more information
on chidren and pesticides, visit our Children
and Schools program page.