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Home > Feature Articles > Health and Well Being Strategies > Health Care Industry Sectors and Strategies

Exposure to Pesticides Linked to ADHD by Research

The first study to look at risks among children with average levels of pesticide exposure finds links to ADHD.

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A new nationwide study of U.S. children links pesticide exposure to increased risk of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics measured pesticide levels in the urine of 1,139 children in the United States. The researchers found that exposure to organophosphate pesticides “at levels common among U.S. children may contribute to ADHD prevalence,” the study authors reported.

Organophosphate pesticides are used in agricultural and residential settings. Certain conventionally grown fruits and vegetables have tested positive for pesticide residue, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group.

The researchers couldn’t prove that pesticides cause ADHD.

"Previous studies have shown that exposure to some organophosphate compounds cause hyperactivity and cognitive deficits in animals," said lead author Maryse F. Bouchard of the University of Montreal Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and the Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center in a release. "Our study found that exposure to organophosphates in developing children might have effects on neural systems and could contribute to ADHD behaviors, such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity."

The study, “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides,” was published in Pediatrics, was authored Maryse F. Bouchard of the Université de Montréal and Harvard University, David C. Bellinger, Robert O. Wright, and Marc G. Weisskopf of Harvard University.

According to the study, approximately 40 organophosphate pesticides are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in the United States.

  • The EPA considers food, drinking water, and residential pesticide use the key sources of exposure.

  • The National Academy of Sciences considers diet to be the major source of exposure to pesticides for infants and children.

The Environmental Working Group recently released its updated Dirty Dozen—a list of 12 fruits and vegetables highest in pesticide residue. Celery, peaches, strawberries, apples and blueberries ranked as the top five for pesticide residue.

The Dirty Dozen -- Highest Pesticide Exposure

EWG analysts have developed the Guide based on data from nearly 96,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce conducted between 2000 and 2008 and collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You can find a detailed description of the criteria EWG used to develop these rankings and the complete list of fruits and vegetables tested at their dedicated website, www.foodnews.org.
The EWG Advises consumers to buy these foods from ORGANIC sources.
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Bell Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cherries
  • Potatoes
  • Grapes (Imported)

The Clean 15 that are LOWEST in Pesticides

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pinapple
  • Mangos
  • Sweet Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Cataloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Sweet Potato
  • Honeydew Melon

You will probably notice that the foods with THICK SKINS seem to have the least pesticide use. That's common sense -- insects can suck that sweetness easily ... and pesticides don't soak in as easily.

But remember that ORGANIC not only protects the foods you eat today, but protects the water supply, the soil nutrients, and the air quality of your habitat, as well. Organic production strengthens the entire diversity of your healthy environment.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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