A pesticide is any substance used to control or kill living organisms, making them toxic by design. They include insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides, fungicides and antimicrobials. There are approximately 250 single chemicals registered for use as pesticides in the US and more than 2.5 million tons of pesticides are applied to food and animal feed crops annually. Even pesticides that were banned decades ago continue to affect human helath via soil, air and water because they concentrate in body fat.
Toxic effects acknowledged by the U.S. and international agencies linked to pesticide use include:
-Nervous system effects
-Hormone system effects
-Skin, eye, lung irritation
-Developing fetuses and children are especially vulnerable and can disrupt or damage reproduuctive, neurological and immune systems.
-Increased incidence of breast cancer, learning disabilities, reproductive problems.
How do we protect ourselves and our children the best that we can? We can control the water we drink, food we eat and chemicals we use around the house. A good quality water filter (Brita) is the first line of defense against pesticides in the water supply. Using no household pesticides is also important (greener products like seventh generation). The wisest choice we can problably make to ensure lower exposures and better health is to purchase organically and/or locally produced fruits, vegetables and animal products.
“Our side-by-side tests of organic, green-labeled, and conventional unlabeled produce found that organic foods had consistently minimal or nonexistant pesticide residue.” (Kittredge, 2003)
Nowhere to Hide: Persistent Toxic Chemicals in the US Food Supply by Schafer, Kegley & Patton, 2001
Environmental Working Group. http://www.foodnews.org
Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov