Leading Pediatrics Group Issues Warning and Recommendations on Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2012) On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a landmark policy statement, Pesticide Exposure in Children, and an accompanyingtechnical report on the effects of pesticide exposure in children. In the documents, released in the December 2012 issue of Pediatrics magazine and online on November 26, AAP makes note of the current shortfalls in medical training, public health tracking, and regulatory action on pesticides. Acknowledging the risks to children from both acute and chronic effects, AAP’s report provides recommendations to both pediatricians and government health agencies. AAP’s policy statement comes on the heels of an October 2012 report citing the benefits of eating organic food in order to reduce pesticide exposure. Lead authors on the documents for the AAP’s Council on Environmental Health are James R. Roberts, MD, MPH, Medical University of South Carolina, and Catherine J. Karr, MD, PhD, University of Washington.

AAP’s statement notes that, “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity.” The report discusses how kids are exposed to pesticides every day in air, food, dust, and soil. Children also frequently come into contact with pesticide residue on pets and after lawn, garden, or household pesticide applications. The authors explain how diet is likely the main pathway for pesticide exposure in children, citing a2006 intervention study, which found that switching children to an all-organic diet had an immediate and substantial decrease in the concentration of pesticides in their bodies.

Pesticide labels are cited as a specific area of concern in the report. The authors note that current labels do not include the pesticides’ class, a listing of “inert” ingredients in the product, or information on chronic toxicity. AAP recommends pediatricians understand the usefulness and limitations of pesticide information on product labels. The policy statement advises government to require manufacturers to disclosure inert ingredients either on the product’s label or on the company’s web site. AAP also recommends the creation of a “risks to children” section on pesticide labels, which should inform potential applicators whether active or inert ingredients in the product pose chronic or developmental health concerns for children. Beyond Pesticides has long called for the disclosure of inert ingredients in pesticide formulations. A 2009 study showing that the “inert” ingredient in Roundup, polyoxyethyleneamine (POEA), kills human embryonic cells provides additional evidence of this need.

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