Wednesday, August 28, 2013
6 Ways to Reduce Pesticide Exposure for Your Family
Newer research is showing that small amounts of pesticides are accumulating over time to cause serious harms for our children's brain and body development. There are critical times of development in children when exposure to pesticides or other chemicals can permanently alter the way their body functions since their organs, immune system, and even their body's enzymatic and metabolic systems are still developing. The facts in the matter are that children have different feeding and play habits that increase their exposure levels and they have higher risk for long term damage due to exposure during their development. Children tend to play on the floor or in the grass where pesticides are more likely to have been sprayed and they also tend to put objects in their mouths which can also increase their exposure levels. As a parent, it is very important that we realize that pesticides, herbicides, and even chemicals in our cleaning products can cause serious harm to our children and we need to do as much as possible to decrease the amount of exposure for them.
A recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, pesticide exposure has been estimated to have cost more than 16 million IQ points in children under 5. These pesticides have been encountered in food, air, dust, and soil at home and in school and are now being linked to decreased intelligence, learning problems, and even ADHD. Adverse effects of pesticide exposure range from mild symptoms of dizziness and nausea to more serious symptoms such as long-term neurological, reproductive, and developmental disorders.
So what can you do to decrease your family's exposure?
1.) Buy fresh (and organic as often as your budget allows) produce that is in season and grown in the US or Canada. Avoid purchasing produce or products that contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). These products contain crops whose genetic code has been altered so that they are less at risk for crop destruction from pesticides and herbicides used to treat pests. Recent studies have demonstrated that when these crops are consumed along with pesticides or herbicides the risk for tumors increases significantly. (This pesticide exposure is usually due to ground water contamination due to pesticide run off from crop spraying.) GREAT TIP: Check your super market produce label. 4 digits means its conventionally grown. If it starts with a 9, its organic. If it starts with an 8, its genetically modified.
2.) Use high quality filtered water at home to decrease your family's exposure to pesticides, prescription medications, and toxins that are contained in your water supply. Reverse osmosis filters are one of the best but even cheaper filtered water pitchers can help to decrease your family's exposure to additional chemicals. (Check your city's water report to find out what else may be lurking in your water supply.)
3.) Bathe pets regularly to kill fleas so you can keep toxic treatments to a minimum.
4.) Use natural products, essential oils, and natural pest management at home and outside to keep pests to a minimum. (This includes dry cleaning or laundry products, sunscreen, bug spray, ant and spider killers, and even fertilizers.) Check out yesterday's post for a recipe for a great bug spray utilizing essential oils.
5.) Avoid using lawn and garden products that combine fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides as these can easily be transferred to clothing and children's toys and brought in the house.
6.) Make sure your child's school or daycare minimizes the need for spraying pesticides by practicing Integrated Pest Management. This practice incorporates sealing cracks, keeping trash secured from pests, and using traps or gels to avoid excessive pesticide exposure.