American Academy of Pediatrics Offers Stern Pesticide Warning
In a stirring report linking pesticide exposure to children’s illnesses, a major American agency issued a call today to limit exposures during the most susceptible period of life.
“Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems,” stated the American Academy of Pediatrics in a 120-page document authored by the AAP’s Council on Environmental Health, led by James Roberts, MD, MPH, and Catherine J. Karr, MD, PhD. “Recognizing and reducing problematic exposures will require attention to current inadequacies in medical training, public health tracking, and regulatory action on pesticides.”
The findings mirrored the work of other medical bodies in Canada and elsewhere that have long found associations between pesticides — insect and weed killer and fungicides — and negative impacts on children. Many American agencies, however, have been reluctant to make the same connections until today, which has led to an outpouring of health care professionals nationwide calling on parents, doctors and the government to make significant changes.
“Parents can reduce pesticide exposure by aiming to control pests in homes and gardens in the least toxic ways,” said dietician Denise Reynolds. “Families should avoid using lawn products that combine pesticides and fertilizers because use of these products tends to result in over-application of pesticides.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics called for increased research in addition to immediate action.
“Toxicologic vulnerabilities and exposure factors across the life span are needed to inform regulatory needs and appropriate interventions,” said today’s report.
Table 2 of the report, available here, describes many of the symptoms associated with exposure to various classes of pesticides. For the weed-killers most commonly found in American bags of weed ‘n feed, the issues include skin irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and general confusion — all common maladies that are often misdiagnosed by parents and health care professionals. Children are often exposed by their parents or their neighbors at their own homes, or at schools and playgrounds where pesticides are still allowed.
The vast majority of Canada has banned pesticides around schools and public parks; several U.S. communities have followed suit, but only on public property.
Today’s report should serve to fuel that movement. — Paul Tukey