The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that exposure levels to pesticides are becoming too high in children, and parents need to be more vigilant in decreasing common risk factors. The highest exposure risk comes from ingesting pesticides in food. But exposure also comes from household and lawn products. Recent studies show that limiting pesticide exposure by eating only pesticide-free foods greatly limits the excretion of pesticide metabolites--meaning kids who eat only organic produce are at significantly less risk of exposure.
Begin by talking with your child's pediatrician about reducing pesticide exposure. According to the AAP, children are at significantly more risk from exposure than adults because of their developing systems. Pediatric cancer, diminished cognitive function and behavioral issues are all potential side-effects of early pesticide exposure, the report says. Asthma is also more prevalent in children exposed to pesticides. Pregnant women who are exposed have higher incidence of pre-term labor, birth defects and low birth weights, according to the AAP report.
Parents are encouraged to feed their children organic food when possible. If an all-organic diet is cost prohibitive for your family, avoid the "Dirty Dozen" for conventional produce, opting to buy all organic in these fruits and vegetables that have higher pesticide risks. If allowances must be made, consider conventional produce only from the "Clean 15" list. Buying organic produce whenever possible is your best defense against pesticides in your food; however, adequate washing of conventional produce can also help. Add a bit of vinegar to your rinse to more thoroughly clean your fruits and vegetables. It can also reduce your exposure to other toxins and pathogens.
Acute pesticide exposure is possible, particularly with the prevalence of pesticides in our air and water. Knowing the signs of exposure, which include excessive sweating, headaches and seizures, can allow you to seek medical assistance and prevent lasting health impacts, according to the AAP.
Schools can also get on board with reducing pesticide exposure for children. Using pesticide alternatives and creating a buffer zone around school grounds for limited pesticide use can minimize exposure, according to the AAP.
If you have pests in your home, try homemade pest repellent instead of chemical pesticides:
- For ants, try baking soda or cornmeal in areas where you see ants.
- For mosquitoes, try a homemade spray made of 10 drops each citronella and eucalyptus oil and eight drops of lavender oil mixed into a cup of witch hazel. You can also mix the oils into a body lotion for a bug repellent lotion.
- For cockroaches, try an herbal blend in problem areas. Blend together a garlic clove, an onion and a tablespoon of cayenne pepper and add that to a quart of water and let soak overnight. Add a tablespoon of liquid soap and spray wherever roaches are seen.
For home pest control, prevention is the best repellent. Keep food stored in airtight containers and clean frequently.
These simple tips can help you better avoid pesticides in food and household products. Avoiding pesticide exposure for your children can prevent harmful health complications like ADHD, asthma and even pediatric cancer.
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