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Children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticides. Birth defects, developmental disorders, learning disorders, and brain abnormalities are more common in babies that have been exposed to pesticides. (1)(2)
The bad news is that pesticides are everywhere—in the air, in the soil, in our water, and in dust.
Researchers have even found that pesticides travel long distances, showing up in Alaskan snow and ice core samples from Norway. (3)(4) Pesticides are also in our food—in the food that pregnant mothers eat and in the food we feed our children.
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study showing that almost all—99 to 100 percent—of pregnant women carry detectable levels of toxic chemicals, including pesticides. (5)
Common pesticides used in agriculture can irreparably damage the body, especially in infants and children. The best way to avoid pesticide exposure is to buy organic and to eat plenty of detoxifying fermented vegetables, made from the Veggie Culture Starter.
While common pesticides like organophosphates help farmers to produce a full crop, they also cause irrecoverable damage to the body.
Organophosphate pesticides include common pesticides that are used in agriculture, home landscaping, and public recreation areas.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency:
Organophosphate pesticides block an enzyme that plays a critical role in nerve function. This is how organophosphate pesticides kill insects. It is also how they poison our bodies. Even at low levels, organophosphate pesticides may be dangerous to the developing brains of children.
For example, recent research from the University of California, Davis, found that pregnant women living within a mile of agricultural fields treated with insecticides are at a greater risk for having a child diagnosed with autism: (8)
Organophosphate pesticides also put your baby at greater risk for learning disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
In 2010, scientists from Harvard University and the University of Montreal published a study suggesting that exposure to organophosphate pesticides—at levels common among US children—may contribute to ADHD. (9)
In 2013, a review was published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health showing that children exposed to pesticides may show signs of developmental disorders, or ADHD-like behavior. (10)
While the Environmental Protection Agency banned the residential use of organophosphates in 2001, they are still sprayed on fruits and vegetables. They are also used to control pests in public spaces, like parks.
The National Academy of Sciences reports that infants and children are mostly exposed to pesticides through their diet. (11)
For example, in 2008 the US Pesticide Residue Program Report revealed that detectable concentrations of organophosphate pesticides were found in: (12)
Peaches, apples, grapes, green beans, and pears are also commonly contaminated with organophosphate pesticides. This means that if we want to minimize our exposure to pesticides, we must shop for organic foods. Look for the PLU code on stickers—the code should be 5 digits long and begin with a 9.
To make shopping a little easier, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) developed a shopping list that highlights the cleanest and the dirtiest conventionally-raised fruits and vegetables. (13)
The Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen can help you navigate through the market. All fruits and vegetables listed on the Dirty Dozen list are those most contaminated with pesticides. When shopping for fruits and vegetables that have made the Dirty Dozen, make sure to purchase only organic.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen Plus:
EWG’s Clean Fifteen:
The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported on a study that showed that lactic acid bacteria created by fermented vegetables could degrade the organophosphate insecticide Chlorpyrifos fully in nine days. Beneficial bacteria and yeast in fermented foods are powerful detoxification agents.
Young children are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of pesticides. According to research, birth defects, learning disorders, developmental disorders, and brain abnormalities are more prevalent among babies exposed to pesticides. Toxic chemicals, including pesticides, have been detected in 99 to 100 percent of pregnant women.
Pesticides may be common, but they are highly dangerous. Pesticides kill insects, and they also poison the body; even at low levels, pesticides can affect the developing brains of children. Exposure to common organophosphate pesticides in the US may contribute to ADHD in children.
Pesticides are in the environment, but exposure is most common for infants and children in the diet. The best way to protect your family is to shop smart and buy organic, using the Environmental Working Group Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen shopping lists below. Research also supports lactic acid bacteria created by fermented vegetables to degrade harmful pesticides and detoxify the body.
The Dirty Dozen Plus:
The Clean Fifteen:
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