Certain pesticides can be as harmful to children’s lungs as cigarette smoke, a recent study published on Thursday, December 3 in the journal Thorax has revealed.
Research was conducted by experts at the University of California, Berkley, led by Rachel Raanan, postdoctoral scholar at the School of Public Health, and Brenda Eskenazi, professor of maternal and child health at the Division of Epidemiology.
The aim was to assess the effects of organophospates on children’s lung function, after these powerful pesticides were proven by prior studies to be extremely detrimental to adult farmers.
The trial included a number of 279 kids, aged between 6 months and 5 years, who had been living in Salinas Valley, nicknamed the “Salad Bowl of the World”.
This region is considered to be one of the most profitable regions in the United States, as far as the agricultural sector is concerned, its economic value having been estimated at a staggering $8 billion.
Given that numerous food producers such as Dole, Taylor Farms, JV Farms ad Chiquita have chosen Salinas Valley as the ideal spot for their operations, it’s obvious that pesticide use is also extensive in the area, so as to assist crops such as lettuce, strawberries, wine grapes and broccoli.
Therefore, researchers were able to detect extremely high concentrations of organophosphates in the urine samples pertaining to children surveyed throughout the study, and correlated these readings with each participant’s lung health.
This was done when the participants reached the age of 7, using spirometry tests, which measured the volume of air that kids were able to inhale and exhale, as well as the speed at which the air was driven out of their lungs.
It was determined that the greater exposure to these insecticides had been, the more severely affected the kid’s lung function had become.
More precisely, every time the concentration of organophosphates had multiplied by 10, there was an 8% reduction in the volume of air that the child was able to release from the lungs.
When researchers tried to isolate controlled variables, such as secondhand smoke exposure from parents, family pets, exposure to mold or air pollution, the results remained just as consistent and alarming.
Overall, the ability to breathe had been severely perturbed, and if this deterioration had continued throughout the years, the participants would’ve had experienced a much higher likelihood of being affected by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other similar respiratory disorders.
As study authors explain, greater attention should be given to pesticides such as organophospates, given that they could be even more damaging to kids’ lungs than other more highly publicized environmental stressors, such as cigarette smoke and air pollution.
Although lower concentrations of such chemicals are currently employed in agriculture, organophospates are still extremely common across the United States, and their negative effects have been underestimated until now.
Image Source: Pixabay