Daily News Archive
From October 3, 2005
Lower Children's Dietary Exposure to Common Agricultural Pesticides
Over a fifteen-day period, Dr. Chensheng "Alex" Lu and his colleagues from Emory University, the University of Washington, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically measured the exposure of two organophosphorus pesticides (OP) - malathion and chlorpyrifos - in 23 elementary students in the Seattle area by testing their urine.
The participants, ages 3-11-years-old, were first monitored for three days on their conventional diets before the researchers substituted most of the children's conventional diets with organic food items for five consecutive days. The children were then re-introduced to their normal foods and monitored for an additional seven days.
"Immediately after substituting organic food items for the children's normal diets, the concentration of the organophosphorus pesticides found in their bodies decreased substantially to non-detectable levels until the conventional diets were re-introduced," says Dr. Lu, an assistant professor in the department of environmental and occupational health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University.
During the days when children consumed organic diets, most of their urine samples contained zero concentration for the malathion metabolite. However, once the children returned to their conventional diets, the average malathion metabolite concentration increased to 1.6 parts per billion with a concentration range from 5 to 263 parts per billion, Dr. Lu explains in an article in Medical News Today.
A similar trend was observed for chlorpyrifos. As the average chlorpyrifos metabolite concentration increased from one part per billion during the organic diet days to six parts per billion when children consumed conventional food.
The researchers note that to ensure that any detectable change in dietary pesticide exposure would be attributable to the organic food rather than the change in diet, the substituted organic foods were items the children would have normally eaten as part of their conventional diet. Organic food items were substituted for the conventional diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, processed fruits or vegetables (e.g. salsa), and wheat-based or corn-based products (i.e. pasta, cereal, popcorn, or chips).
Organophosphorus pesticides such as malathion and chlorpyrifos have been shown to be causes of neurological effects in animals and humans.
changes aiming to minimize children's exposures to pesticides have either
banned or restricted the use of many organophosphorus pesticides in the
residential environment. However, fewer restrictions have been imposed
in agriculture," Dr. Lu says. According to the annual survey by U.S.
Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program, organophosphorus pesticide
residues are still routinely detected in food items that are commonly
consumed by young children.