The Dangers of Pesticides and How to Avoid Them
By Laura Hogg
From the NatuREport Blog Series
Welcome back to NatuREport! This week in the news: new research suggests that pesticide exposure during pregnancy leads to low birth weight and IQ. So how do you avoid them?
Proponents of earth-friendly policies have long been warning us that pesticides are dangerous. But they’re just the crazy-hippie-fringe types…right?
New research suggests that, when pregnant women are exposed to pesticides, their babies are born earlier and at a lower birth weight. Keep in mind – the women in the study had what is considered a normal exposure to pesticides. "This is not an unusual group," said study leader Dr. Bruce Lanphear. “These are women exposed primarily through diet and perhaps pesticides used in and around the yard."
The researchers found that the babies with the highest exposure were born ½ a week early and weighed 1/3 of a pound less, as compared to the group with the least exposure.
Doesn’t sound like a big deal? Maybe not…for babies that would have been full-term otherwise. But for babies that are already at risk for being premature, those few days could make a big difference. Premature babies and low birthweight babies are at a higher risk for a host of problems, including heart disease, asthma, and cognitive issues.
And In a recent related study, Harvard Medical School showed that pesticide exposure can lead to a “substantial loss” in IQ points in children.
“We’re really failing to protect our kids,” said Lamphear.
So what can we do to avoid exposing ourselves and our kids to harmful pesticides and chemicals? Try these tips:
Buying organic produce is a great way to reduce your exposure to pesticides. Not sure where to start? Check out this list of fruits and veggies that typically contain the most pesticides. And remember – the more people buy organic, the lower the costs
Wash your fruits & veggies.
If you can’t buy organic, then at least make sure to rinse off your fruits and vegetables before eating them. This will remove excess pesticide residue.
Use green cleaning methods.
We live in a culture that has a different cleaning product for every task you can imagine – but you probably already own powerful natural cleaners and don’t even realize it! Ditch the Windex and toilet cleaner and instead use diluted vinegar for window cleaning and baking soda for scrubbing your toilet. Click here for more green cleaning ideas.