A new study published in Thorax found that early exposure to pesticides was linked to about an 8% reduction in lung capacity or functioning in young children. 8% may not sound especially dramatic… until you know that the same reduction is found as a result of a child’s exposure to secondhand smoke. The study, which involved 279 children in California’s agriculture-heavy Salinas Valley, tested the urine of the children for organophosphate exposure five times throughout the first five years of the child’s life. At seven years-old, the children then performed a simple breathing test to determine their lungs’ abilities to inhale and exhale. Higher levels of pesticides found in the children’s bodies correlated with significantly reduced lung capacity. While the adverse effects of pesticides have been documented scientifically as well as anecdotally by farm workers for years, this study determined that even being “one step removed” from the pesticides, still can result in an adverse effect on the health outcomes of children. About 84% of the families involved in the study included at least one adult agricultural worker. Organophosphate use has declined over the past decade and has been phased almost completely out of household items, but is still heavily used in agriculture.