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Chronic pesticide exposure causing lung damage in children, equivalent to health effects of second-hand cigarette smoke, study finds


Pesticide drift

(NaturalNews) Persistent pesticide exposure in children causes damage comparable to that of second-hand cigarette smoke, according to a new study out of California. Researchers from UC Berkley observed "significantly lower exhalation rates" in children whose bodies contained elevated levels of breakdown products from organophosphate pesticides, reports Pesticide Action Network (PAN).

Scientists found children exposed to the pesticides exhaled 8 percent less air than children not exposed to the chemicals.

Organophosphate pesticides, or OPs, are the most toxic group of pesticides to vertebrate animals, yet are the most commonly used insecticides worldwide, according to PAN, a nonprofit that challenges "the global proliferation of pesticides" and works to implement responsible and sustainable farming practices.

"For years, pediatricians have warned that children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of agricultural pesticides. This latest study confirms — yet again — that these chemicals are harming children right now in communities across the country," said PAN policy director, Kristin Schafer.

"These chemicals are harming children"

"It took a lawsuit to finally prompt EPA to take action on chlorpyrifos, one of the worst offenders — and they're still not doing nearly enough. And after more than a decade, we're pressing the agency to implement a full and rapid ban of this dangerous pesticide, and protect children from exposure to similar pesticides as well," she added.

"In California, we're urging state officials to support 'agricultural innovation zones' around schools in rural areas, to replace child-harming pesticides with safer, more sustainable farming. As this latest study shows, action to protect our children is long overdue."

Organophosphate pesticides first developed during WWII

Created in Germany during World War II, (TEPP) was the very first OP, and a byproduct of nerve gas development. OPs have been linked to health effects around the globe, and in 2013 were responsible for killing 25 children in India after they ate lunches thought to be contaminated with the pesticide. Some of the school children, aged four to 12, died within hours of exposure, a report by National Geographic reveals.

Children being harmed by toxic pesticides continues to be one of the greatest public health threats to America's youth. Children residing in, or attending school in lower income areas are the most at risk.

Fears regarding these risks heightened after the Environmental Working Group determined that nearly 500 elementary schools in America are within 200 feet of a corn of soybean field being sprayed heavily with deadly pesticides – which often drift to nearby areas. Pesticide drift can have deadly impacts on children who are frequently exposed, particularly those 12 and under, says EWG.

Attempting to curb these risks, PAN, in collaboration with Californians for Pesticide Reform, are working hard to establish one-mile buffer zones of no pesticide use around California schools.

Activists working to establish pesticide buffer zones around California schools

"There just has to be more distance between health-harming pesticides and the places where kids learn, play and grow," says blogger Sally Neas, who also teaches nutrition in California's Pajaro Valley.

Neas resides in Santa Cruz, "one of the capitals of the sustainable farming movement," but says in the same county, just 20 miles south of where she teaches, the attitude about farming is very different.

Children in Watsonville school system are being exposed to agricultural chemicals used on nearby fields "including lung-damaging chloropicrin" and "the known carcinogen Telone," which was discovered at one Watsonville elementary school.

"The problem of pesticide drift in California is a clear example of environmental injustice," says Neas. "While white-majority schools in Santa Cruz are dotted with organic gardens, Latino-majority schools in the Pajaro Valley border fields where hazardous pesticides are routinely applied."

The California health department is not ignorant of the problem, but slow to respond. Regulators are currently working to develop statewide restrictions regarding pesticide use near schools. For more on this developing story, stay tuned to NaturalNews.com.

Sources:

CommonDreams.org

News.NationalGeographic.com

EWG.org

Panna.org

CEHTP.org

PAN-UK.org

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