(Mirror Daily, United States) – Beyond farm workers, child exposure to pesticide leads to poor lung function and may later on in life result in complications. Researchers have often studied the effects of common pesticides in agriculture on farmers working on the fields. However, a new study has found that the chemicals affect even their families, particularly their kids.
Researchers from the University of California, Berkely, conducted a study from almost 280 children, who participated in the Centre for Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas. This meant years of data, captured since the moment the children were in the womb to their adolescence.
Throughout the course of the years, the study participants had their urine tested five times in their lives. The first was at 6 months old, and the last at 5 years old. Researchers looked for organophospate pesticide metabolites in the samples before they tested the children’s lung function. This was done through a spirometry test, which saw to how much air the participants could exhale.
According to their findings each time the levels of the pesticides increased 10 times over, lung function decreased by 8% on average. The damage done to lung function was equal to that of passive smoking.
Organophospate is still commonly used, but the numbers have fortunately dropped in California. Between 2000 and 2013, the amount of pesticide use has declined from 6.3 million pounds to 3.5 million pounds. However, the numbers might still plummet in lieu of these findings. It’s been well known that they could cause harm to field workers. But now, it’s also been suggested that children living in agricultural areas might be affected.
Even after taking into account their mother’s smoking habits, air pollution, mold, pets, and location, children with higher levels of organophospate saw to a decrease in lung function by almost 160 milliliters. According to lead author of the study, Rachel Raanan, children with higher exposure had lower capacity for breathing. If this persists, then it could develop into respiratory problems later in life, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Researchers advise that children should be kept far away from areas where pesticide is used, and windows should remain closed. This would prevent the potentially damaging fumes from spreading. Even more, for families where one member is involved in agricultural work, they suggested that shoes and work clothes be removed before entering the house.
Pesticides exposure is highly dangerous, and can be reduced by properly washing hands and carefully doing the same to all fruits and vegetables consumed.
Image source: peta.org