Are you concerned about our children’s health? The Americana -focused fictional version of healthy clean living farm is, in fact, a stark contrast to the amount of health issues children have had from their ongoing exposure to agricultural pesticides.
Think of pesticides as a demonic figure lurking in the corn, contaminating our children with diseases that ravage their bodies and minds for generations.
Pesticide Action Networks’ report Kids on the Frontline examines the many documented links between agricultural pesticide exposure and children’s health from children residing directly in the agricultural areas. Kids on the Frontline builds from the PAN’s 2012 report A Generation in Jeopardy.
Certainly, pesticide use on the plants we, and livestock, eat has been a major worry for years, but at the front of the war are children who live among the war zone of pesticide use and agriculture, with spraying going on at the home, in the fields and public areas with dangerous pesticides such as glyphosate.
Pesticides and Children’s health: The Report
PAN’s review of government health trend data and recent academic research only confirmed what so many have been seeing and worrying about–childhood diseases are on the rise. Childhood cancer and birth defects as well as Autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other developmental disabilities are all on the rise.
And of those? The cancers with the fastest growing rates are linked to pesticides, and cancer is the number one killer of children by disease in the United States, with over 10,000 new cases in kids under 14 in 2015 alone.
Leukemia is on the rise since 1975, especially in rural agricultural areas. Several of the studies linked rates of leukemia or brain tumors in children with exposure of a parent before the child was even conceived, indicating sperm damage. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an estimated 171,550 people are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma this year, three diseases that cause almost 10% of cancer deaths in the US.
Pesticide exposure can be cumulative, adding on years of exposure, even at very low levels, that damage growing nervous systems and impact health chronically. And the proximity of pregnant mothers to fields where pesticides are sprayed show an increased risk of developmental issues like autism spectrum disorders.
Farmers Working To Support A Family Unknowingly Hurt Their Health
680 million pounds of agricultural pesticide was sprayed on 2007 – the latest data PAN could find.
Dust in homes on and off of farms were collected in Iowa, and the dust in farm homes showed a significant increase in pesticide amounts. And the amount of ‘take home’ exposure from workers coming home to their families and bringing home contamination through clothing and vehicles increased the exposure for children.
In Minnesota, six of the eight most common pesticides used have been linked to cancer, including lymphoma.
Iowa is ranked first and Minnesota’s number one crop is corn. in 2012, 98 percent of corn was treated with herbicides. The most popular? Glyphosate aka Roundup Weed Killer.
For maps about where pesticides were used, see the USGS’s Pesticides National Synthesis Projects map collection, organized alphabetically with hundreds of chemicals available to view.
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Picture this. Strawberry pickers in California toil all day in the long hot summer heat. They come home exhausted to young children and their wives. Their children leap into their arms to welcome them home showering them with hugs kisses. And as he embraces them, he’s unknowingly exposing his children and putting his family at risk to toxic chemicals he has all over his clothing and skin.
It was a similar situation with families who were exposed to asbestos years ago from the Railroad, Construction & other similar industries.
On average, California cancer rates are the same as the rest of the US average for children under 20 – however, in counties like Napa and other agriculture- focused areas, the average goes between 18-23 per 100,000.
Learning Disorders Rise Near Farming
Three fumigants- metam sodium, chloropicrin and dichloropropene are commonly found near schools and have no cumulative exposure testing. Also – a large amount of the children with this exposure at school are Latino.
Organophosphates such as malathion, which has been banned in residential uses, is still widely used agriculturally, including strawberries – and low levels of the pesticide present means a 55% higher chance of a child having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Higher levels, such as those found in children of farmworkers and others, has been linked to neurological and behavioral disorders.
According to the Great Schools website – Watsonville, one of the cities responsible for half of the $2.5 billion strawberry industry in California, has a district rating of four, with many schools at 2 and 3. Nearby Aptos has four schools in the district, all rated 9 and with considerably less pesticide use in the area.
Want to know more? Search for an area in the CalEnviroScreen results web map.
What Can You Do?
So many people want organic for their own kids – but for rural communities, the more we steer away from grain-fed livestock, choose organically-grown produce and push for pesticide restrictions in our country, we can help protect this young generation and the next.
Read the entire report or the summary at the Pesticide Action Network‘s site, where you can find more information about pesticide use and action you can take to protect yourself, your community and the nature around you.