Effects of Exposure
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, measured the pesticide byproducts in the urine of more than 1,000 children and found those who had above-average levels of one common pesticide were almost two times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.
The study found 94 percent of children had detectable levels of pesticides in their urine. The higher the concentration of pesticides, the higher the odds were of being diagnosed with ADHD.
Although pesticide exposure has been linked to behavioral problems in the past, most studies have focused on farming communities and populations exposed to high amounts of pesticides. This is the first study to focus on the effects normal amounts of pesticides have on the general population.
According to the Pediatrics study, pesticides act on a set of brain chemicals closely related to those involved in ADHD behaviors. The Environmental Protection Agency has eliminated residential uses of pesticides, such as for lawn care and termite extermination, but people are still exposed through food, mainly commercially-grown fruits and vegetables. Children are more vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their brains are still developing.
Although more studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of chronic pesticide exposure, there are ways to reduce the amount of residue your child is exposed to. Your children shouldn't stop eating fruits and vegetables, but be aware of the Dirty Dozen - the top 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticides, and try to purchase organic versions of these items. Print this grocery list to help you remember which produce to buy organic, and which items are generally safe.
If buying organic isn't possible, remember to wash, trim, and peel your fruits and vegetables before eating them. Print this list of tips for washing and preparing your produce safely.