Daily News Archive
Levels of Organophosphate Pesticides Found in Children
(Beyond Pesticides, February 17, 2004) A recent study
found five metabolites of organophosphate (OP) pesticides in over 50%
of people examined. Alarmingly, children were found to contain significantly
higher levels of OP metabolites, a grave concern considering their developing
organ systems often make them more sensitive to toxic exposure. The
of Dialkyl Phosphate Metabolites of Organophosphorus Pesticides in the
U.S. Population" was published in the February 2004 edition
of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
1,949 urine samples from U.S. residents 6-59 years of age during 1999
and 2000 as a part of the ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination
Survey (NHANES). Each sample was examined for concentrations of five
OP metabolites: dimethylphosphate (DMP), dimethylthiophosphate (DMTP),
dimethyldithiophosphate (DMDTP), diethylphosphate (DEP), diethylthiophosphate
(DETP), and diethyldithiophosphate (DEDTP). Each of the five metabolites
tested for was found in over 50% of the sample, with the highest number
of samples - 71% - containing the metabolite diethylphosphate (DEP).
The samples were
classified into age, sex and racial/ethnic groups. The only significant
difference across these categories was that concentrations of metabolites
in children 6-11 years of age were consistently significantly higher
than in adults and often higher than in adolescents.
In 2001, the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found similar results after
examining metabolites of organophosphates in American bodies, further
showing the widespread exposure to these toxic chemicals that occurs
in the United States. For a copy of their report, see the National
Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.
It is disturbing to note that while widespread exposure to organophosphates
is continually documented, these pesticides pose a high risk to human
health. Studies in animals show that even a single, low-level exposure
to certain organophosphates during particular times of early brain development
can cause permanent changes in brain chemistry, as well as changes in
behavior, such as hyperactivity. This may mean that early childhood
exposure can lead to lasting effects on learning, attention, and behavior,
just like the environmental neurotoxin lead.
Organophosphates are considered to be the most likely pesticide to cause
an acute poisoning. 63,000 reports were made to U.S. poison control
centers between 1993 and 1996 about unintentional residential exposures
to organophosphates - almost 25,000 involving children under 6.
TAKE ACTION: Let the EPA know you won’t stand to be poisoned by
these highly toxic chemicals. Tell EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt
to ban organophosphates, by email,
phone: 202-564-4711, or fax: 202-501-1470.