We should all be concerned about pesticide exposure: more than a billion pounds of the stuff gets sprayed on agricultural fields, dropped down from the sky, and released into water. The latest report from Pesticide Action Network, Kids on the Frontline, has us extremely concerned for the safety and well-being of kids, especially those who live in rural, agricultural communities. The report examines how health issues, including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and certain developmental disorders, have increased as well as rising rates of childhood cancers including leukemia and brain tumors. Although scientists have yet to establish definitive causal relationships between the pesticides and these health issues, there is a growing body of evidence linking them (and these issues don’t even begin to address the environmental effects of pesticides). Along with the fact that children’s developing brains and bodies are still growing, changing, and developing, little kids may be inadvertently increasing their pesticide exposure by playing in the dirt, eating foods without worrying if they are organic or have been washed, and testing out new places and things with all of their senses (i.e. all the things kids are supposed to do to begin exploring the world). Children of farmers and farm workers face an additional “double dose” of dangers through “take home” exposure when their parent tracks in the chemicals on their clothing or body — and from living close to the places where the pesticides are applied. To move towards a brighter, less toxic future, the report recommends: reducing the amount of overall pesticides, taking action to protect children though efforts such as pesticide-free buffer zones near schools and daycare centers, and investing in healthy farming that incentivizes farms to explore safer agricultural practices that rely less on pesticides. Ironically, the House Appropriations Committee recently slashed a budget measure that allowed for support of farms that practiced good land stewardship and conservation.
Lead image via jetsandzeppelins