Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Keep Children Away from Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals

Pesticides, herbicides, and toxic chemicals are found everywhere. They are dangerous to be exposed to for all human beings, but are particularly risky for children and infants. Their lower weight and higher metabolisms cause them to be particularly vulnerable to toxic substances. "More than 1 million children between the ages of 1 and 5 ingest at least 15 pesticides every day from fruits and vegetables. More than 600,000 of these children eat a dose of organophosphate insecticides that the federal government considers unsafe, and 61,000 eat doses that exceed benchmark levels by a factor of 10 or more"(Source: Environmental Working Group, "Overexposed: Organophosphate Insecticides in Children’s Food," 1998, pp. 1-3.).

"Our children are born with a deposit of pesticides and other foreign chemicals in their bodies, caused by a shift of maternal pesticide ‘body burden’ through the placenta; after birth, children ‘inherit’ further load through breastfeeding. Pesticides have a cumulative multigenerational destructive impact on human health -- especially on behavior. Pesticides are a serious threat to the physical, emotional and mental development of children and future generations," according to a report from the Environmental Illness Society of Canada.

By admission on their web site, the EPA has stated that pesticides are harmful chemicals: "By their very nature, most pesticides create some risk of harm. Pesticides can cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment because they are designed to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms". In view of this information, it is beyond critical to take any action necessary to protect children from toxic chemicals.

Here are some tips for protecting your children from these lethal substances:
  • Store food and trash in closed containers to keep pests from coming into your home.
  • For extermination of pests in your home, use baits and traps when you can instead of toxic sprays; place baits and traps where children cannot reach them
  • Avoid keeping pesticides and toxic chemicals in your home. If you do have these substances, store them where kids can't reach them - never put them in other containers that kids can mistake for food or drink.
  • Keep children, toys, and pets away when pesticides are applied.
  • If you must eat conventional produce, wash under running water before eating - peel them before eating, when possible.
  • Allow spiders to remain in your yard as they serve as natural pest control.
  • Encourage birds, bats, and natural wildlife in your yard which also control pests. For example -- build a bat house in your yard or hang a bird house in a tree, and put out a bird feeder to attract birds.
  • Use natural methods to keep pests out of your yard. Visit Common Sense Gardening for ideas.
  • Pull weeds with your children.
  • Douse weeds with boiling water to kill them instead of using weed killer.
  • Soap weeds to death by doing the following: mix 5 tablespoons of liquid soap such as environmentally safe dish-washing liquid with 4 cups of water (1 quart) in a spray bottle. Coat weeds with soapy water. This method works best in hot weather.
  • Purchase and eat organic produce. Diets rich in organic vegetables significantly lower children's exposure to toxic chemicals. Eating conventional or industrial meats is also unsafe because pesticide residues collect in the fats of animals who consume pesticide treated feed.
  • Do not use dangerous insect repellents on the market, many of which contain DEET. Instead, make your own home-made insect repellent.
  • Check with your school district to find out their policy on using pesticides. If they're not using true Integrated Pest Management and least-toxic methods, start a campaign to insist that they do.
  • Check with local garden and nursery stores who often sell organic and natural products to help control pests and weeds in your yard.
  • Contact local legislature and find out about changing laws for the use of pesticides and toxic chemicals. Start a campaign with other concerned individuals in your area.
For more information about children and pesticide exposure, visit the following web sites:

The Green Guide

Westchester County Pest Management Committee

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