Protecting Children from Pesticides
A study in the journal Pediatrics associates the potential of exposure to pesticides with cases of ADHD in the U.S. and Canada. An estimated 4.5 million children ages 5 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD in the US alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Research indicates that exposure to pesticides used on foods such as frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries and celery, appears to be a potential contributor in increasing the chances that children will be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
In the ADHD study led by Maryse Bouchard, researchers at the University of Montreal and Harvard University studied the levels of pesticide residue in the urine of more than 1,139 children ages 8 to 15, 119 of whom were diagnosed with ADHD. The children with highest levels of diakyl phosphates, the breakdown products of organophosphate pesticides, were 93 percent more likely to have the disorder than those with undetectable levels. The exact causes of ADHD are still unknown. Bouchard stressed that while her analysis is the first to peg pesticides as a potential contributor to ADHD, the study proves only an association and not a direct causal link.
Washing fresh produce before eating is a healthy habit. You can reduce and often eliminate residues if they are present on fresh fruits and vegetables by following these simple tips:
* Wash produce with large amounts of cold or warm tap water, and scrub with a brush when appropriate; Either use a vegetable brush or clean cloth to scrub firmer produce like melons and cucumbers.
* Some people swear by vinegar, and use one part vinegar to three parts water. This is great for removing bacteria, and may help break down wax, too.
* There are many commercial fruit cleaners available on the market, some of which are made up of 100% natural produce – normally some form of citric acid. These claim to remove wax, pesticides and 99.9% of bacteria (including e.coli, salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, etc). If you avoid the ammonia-based products, and opt for these natural ones, they are safe, leave no smell or taste.
* Remember to use a dry clean cloth or towel on your produce after to remove further pesticides.
* Peeling fruits and vegetables is often the best way to substantially reduce the pesticide load, especially from apples, which are the most contaminated of all the fruits and vegetables. Pears, nectarines and peaches can also be peeled, as can many vegetables.
* Throw away the outer leaves of leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage.
* The best way to avoid pesticides and herbicides in our food supply is to buy organically grown food.
- Shielding kids from pesticides: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- The 12 most contaminated foods : The Dirty Dozen
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