Children Need More Vigilant Avoidance of Pesticide Exposure, say Pediatricians

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2012-11-26 10:53

Unfortunately, children have almost daily exposure to pesticides, say doctors with the American Academy of Pediatrics, and this exposure is more dangerous to them than it is to adults. For most children, diet is the most influential source of these toxic chemicals.

Pesticides are a collective term for chemicals intended to kill unwanted insects, plants, molds, and rodents. Children have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity. Chronic exposure – even low-level exposure - can lead to pediatric cancers (ie brain cancer and leukemia), decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.

Children encounter pesticides daily in air, dust, and soil and on surfaces through home and public lawn or garden application, household insecticide use, application to pets and agricultural product residues. However, food is probably the most prevalent source of day-to-day exposure. A study that placed children on a diet of completely pesticide-free foods found that there was a drastic and immediate decrease in urinary excretion of pesticide metabolites.

To keep pesticides out of your meals, says pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears on the television show The Doctors, consider buying organic produce. Of course, for many families, this would be a major financial undertaking, so begin by reading the list of “The Dirty Dozen,” the foods with the greatest levels of toxins, and if you include those in your family meal plans – consider purchasing these pesticide-free first.

The Dirty Dozen
These fruits and vegetables listed below usually have a thin skin and are hard to wash, making it more difficult to remove pesticides.
• Celery
• Peaches
• Strawberries
• Apples
• Blueberries
• Nectarines
• Bell Peppers
• Spinach
• Kale
• Cherries
• Potatoes
• Grapes

Fruits and Vegetables that have thicker skins, are more resistant to pesticides and are easier to wash are known as “The Clean Fifteen.” Dr. Sears says that while this will not always equate to lower levels of pesticides, it is probably okay to buy these in their non-organic form.

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