FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Many U.S. Residents Carry Toxic Pesticides Above "Safe" Levels
Report shows Children, Women, and Mexican Americans Shoulder Heaviest "Pesticide Body Burden"
Press Release: Many U.S. Residents Carry Toxic Pesticides Above "Safe" Levels
Many U.S. residents carry toxic pesticides in their bodies above government assessed "acceptable" levels, according to a report released today by Pesticide Action Network North America (PAN) and Washington Toxics Coalition. Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability, makes public for the first time an analysis of pesticide-related data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a study of levels of chemicals in 9,282 people nationwide. The report reveals that government and industry have failed to safeguard public health from pesticide exposures.
"None of us choose to have hazardous pesticides in our bodies," said Kristin Schafer, PAN program coordinator and lead author of the report. "Yet CDC found pesticides in 100% of the people who had both blood and urine tested. The average person in this group carried a toxic cocktail of 13 of the 23 pesticides we analyzed."
Many of the pesticides found in the test subjects have been linked to serious short- and long-term health effects including infertility, birth defects, and childhood and adult cancers. "While the government develops safety levels for each chemical separately, this study shows that in the real world we are exposed to multiple chemicals simultaneously," explained Margaret Reeves, Ph.D., senior scientist at PAN. "The synergistic effects of multiple exposures are unknown, but a growing body of research suggests that even at very low levels the combination of these chemicals can be harmful to our health."
Chemical Trespass found that children, women and Mexican Americans shouldered the heaviest "pesticide body burden." The CDC data show that the average 6- to11-year-old child sampled is exposed to the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos at four times the level U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers "acceptable" for a long-term exposure.
"Our children's growing bodies need a healthy environment, but they have the heaviest burden of toxic pesticides," said Erika Schreder, staff scientist with the Washington Toxics Coalition. "EPA needs to ban pesticides that build up in our bodies and threaten our children's health."
The report also found that women have significantly higher levels of three of the six organochlorine pesticides evaluated. This class of pesticides is known to have multiple harmful effects when they cross the placenta during pregnancy, including reduced infant birth weight and disruption of brain development, which can lead to learning disabilities and other neurobehavioral problems. This ability of organochlorine pesticides to pass from mother to child puts future generations at serious risk.
The Washington State Department of Ecology has a program to eliminate persistent toxic chemicals, but the 2004 legislature bowed to industry pressure and passed a budget proviso to exempt pesticides from the program.
Chemical Trespass provides recommendations for government, industry, and the public including:
- U.S. EPA should ban use of pesticides known to be hazardous and pervasive in the environment and our bodies, and should immediately phase out all uses of chlorpyrifos and lindane.
- U.S. EPA should require that manufacturers demonstrate that a pesticide does not harm human health before it can be used.
- Washington state should include pesticides in its program to eliminate persistent toxic chemicals.
- Cities, counties, and school districts should reduce children's exposures to pesticides by eliminating pesticide use in schools and parks and replacing them with safer methods.
To obtain a copy of Chemical Trespass, call 415-981-1771 or download from www.panna.org.
Pesticides Action Network North America
415-981-1771 ext. 350
Washington Toxics Coalition
206-632-1545 ext. 119