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Daily News Blog

07
Aug

Kids Carry Higher Levels of Glyphosate in Their Bodies than Adults, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2019) A study conducted by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) finds that children carry significantly higher levels of glyphosate in their bodies than their parents. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer Monsanto’s Roundup, has been identified as probably carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  In the context of recent data from the American Cancer Society (ACS) indicating that pediatric cancer in the U.S. surged by almost 50% from 1975 to 2015, many parents are worried, and looking for ways to reduce their children’s exposure to glyphosate and other toxic pesticides.

The study conducted by CEH enrolled eleven families from all over the U.S., testing levels of glyphosate in children’s urine as compared to their parents. Results showed that over 90% of participants had been recently exposed to glyphosate. In most child/parent pairs, the child’s body had surprisingly higher concentrations of glyphosate (up to 4 times that of the parent), supporting research that glyphosate poses a greater threat to children.

Children may be more susceptible to glyphosate for a variety of reasons. Children are growing, so they take in more of everything (from food, to water, to pesticides) per pound of body weight. Kids also spend more time closer to the ground crawling or playing, which increases risk of exposure. Additionally, since glyphosate alters protein synthesis, it can especially impact children as they are undergoing biological and physiological changes.

Simon Strong and Vilma Tarazona Strong have spent the four years since the death of their 12-year-old son Oliver from acute myeloid leukemia advocating for research on the causes and confounding variables of pediatric cancer. Mr. Strong told reporters of the Guardian that he realized he had been quietly encouraged to think that cancer is the result of “bad luck and dodgy genes” rather than “triggered by external agents that damage our DNA and the body’s ability to deal with that damage.”

Unfortunately, that viewpoint pervades the American Cancer Society’s webpage on risk factors for childhood cancer. While ACS is for the most part silent on the impact of pesticides on childhood cancer, the Canadian Cancer Society recognizes these risks. A broader conversation about environmentally induced cancers is critical, as ACS estimates that about 11,060 children in the US under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year.

While Oliver’s parents, like many, do not know specifically what caused their son’s cancer, research led them to understand that his exposure to pesticides on turf fields may have played a role. Oliver’s father told the Guardian that he now regrets using Roundup on their patio, and that “Oliver’s brother Edward said they both hated the smell of that stuff.” He said once he looked at the container and saw that it contained glyphosate he looked it up. “[I] saw it was declared a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. And we all know now about the jury verdicts regarding glyphosate” he said, referencing recent court cases that have linked glyphosate to cancer. Although the manufacturer, Bayer, continues to insist the product is safe, they are currently fielding lawsuits from over 18,400 plaintiffs who complain of cancer and other ailments caused by use of and exposure to the product

Oliver’s parents started a project called “The Reasons Why” to connect families who experience cases of pediatric cancer, assess causal factors, and delve into the impact that chemical exposure can have on children. Private research projects, like the Strong’s, are increasingly important as federal funding for pediatric cancer work has taken a serious hit under the Trump administration. President Trump announced in February a $500 million appropriation over 10 years, which pales in comparison to President Obama’s $1.8 billion, seven-year investment.

Communities all over America are questioning their local air and water quality and possible toxin exposure. From Michigan to Indiana to Pennsylvania, people are taking note of rising cases of pediatric cancer and other diseases. Beyond Pesticides encourages individuals to take precautions and avoid hazardous pesticides to reduce risk of cancer. The best way to minimize this risk is to shop organic, as studies have found that levels of pesticide metabolites in urine drop precipitously when switching to an all organic diet. If you think you have been exposed to pesticides, visit Beyond Pesticides’ What to do in a Pesticide Emergency page, and take measures to prevent future exposure. Additionally, concerned parents are encouraged to advocate for pesticide-free land management practices and to question service providers about their practices and products to ensure toxic chemicals are not used on your property. And, of course, adopt organic practices in the management of your lawn and garden and encourage your town to adopt organic land management practices for their parks, playing fields, medians, and open space.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: The Guardian, Center for Environmental Health

 

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  • Archives

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    • ALS (2)
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