Pesticides and Your Health

Pesticides are created to kill pests, indoors and outdoors. Allegedly, they are used to protect our homes from structural damage and to increase crop production. However, many pesticides also pose serious health risks to people.   In many cases the amount of pesticide to which an individual is exposed is small and does not pose a risk. In other instances either chronic or acute exposure can create serious and lasting health problems.  To determine risk, one must consider the toxicity of the pesticide, the likelihood of exposure, the length of exposure, and individual health issues.

What are the potential health effects of pesticides?

The health effects of pesticides depend on the type of pesticide. Some, such as the organophosphates and carbamates, affect the nervous system. These pesticides affect nerve transmission. Exposure can cause numbness and tingling and permanent neurological damage.

Synthetic permethrins can irritate the skin or eyes and affect asthma and the respiratory system.

Organochloride pesticides such as Chlordane may be carcinogens. This termiticide can affect the hormone or endocrine system in the body. Organochlorides have also been associated with diabetes, migraines, immune dysfunction, CNS issues, and permanent neurological damage.

Where can I get information on health risks of pesticides I have in my home?

The EPA has a cooperative agreement with Oregon State University, which operates The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC). This center provides objective, science-based information about a variety of pesticide-related subjects, including pesticide products, recognition and management of pesticide poisonings, toxicology, and environmental chemistry. NPIC also lists state pesticide regulatory agencies, and provides links to their Web sites.  NPIC can be contacted at: 1-800-858-7378 or by email at [email protected].  For more information, read the NPIC Fact Sheet.

The EPA publishes a book, Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings. This book deals with acute harmful effects of pesticide exposure. The information presented in this book provides information to the public regarding toxicity of pesticides, health effects of exposure to them and remedial or treatment alternatives.  To both the physician and general public the understanding of the effects of pesticide exposure can assist in determining the cause of difficult to diagnose symptoms.  The EPA’s human health risk assessments for many pesticides also are available on the Internet.

Pesticides – Consumers Union Article Release Date: 03/26/2015
Consumers Union raises concerns about pesticides with EPA, USDA and FDA.  Letters to federal agencies cite new Consumer Reports story on pesticides in produce and the recent WHO decision to reclassify glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

WASHINGTON, D.C. ─ Consumers Union (CU), the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports (CR), today wrote three federal government agencies to raise concerns about the impact of pesticides on health and the environment, citing a new Consumer Reports story on pesticides in produce and the recent decision by the World Health Organization to classify the herbicide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

A World Health Organization-affiliated research agency announced on March 20 that it had classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” following an evaluation by 17 oncology experts from 11 different countries.

The CR article also specifically addresses U.S. farms’ widespread use of the herbicide glyphosate, often known as Roundup.  This pesticide is not consistently monitored by the federal government.

In letters to the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Food and Drug Administration, Consumers Union described how the CR article “Pesticides in Produce” examines the relative level of risk posed by pesticides, the evidence of their harm to human workers and the environment, and the absolute risk to children.

CU wrote, “We make clear that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has numerous health benefits, and that eating enough produce should be the consumers’ primary goal. However, the article also gives consumers new guidelines on how to make the healthiest and most environmentally sound choices – including “in what circumstances we recommend always buying organic produce, and when, alternatively, there is a low-risk conventional option.”

“Even before this news, consumers nationwide were concerned… now, there is an even starker need to better understand pesticides’ impact,” CU wrote.

Based on its findings, CU made several recommendations to the agencies:

  • CU urged the EPA to ban or take immediate action on the riskiest pesticides.
  • The agency should complete the delisting of arsenical pesticides, improve the science behind tolerance limits, and take immediate action on neonicotinoids due to their toxicity to honey bees.
  • CU also asked the EPA to rein in emergency exemptions and conditional registrations for pesticides, and require public access to information about all ingredients in pesticides and easy access to current registration status.
  • CU said USDA should expand pesticide residue testing in its Pesticide Data Program (PDP), particularly in light of the recent WHO conclusion that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic in humans. Long-term glyphosate exposure causes neurological degeneration.

USDA should also protect and promote organic standards and meaningful integrated pest management, CU said.

What does this information mean to you? What does it mean to EHC-D?

The Environmental Health Center-Dallas (EHC-D) offers the following evaluations for pesticide poisoning:

Single Photon emission computed tomography is performed with a “brain specific” radionuclide. This is 3-dimensional using three cameras for toxic exposure definition.

Blood and urine analyses for pesticides – organophosphates, organochlorides, polychlorinated biphenyls, pentachlorophenol, pyrethroid metabolites, glyphosates, and chlorophenoxy herbicides.

Breath Air Analysis derived from the blood’s passive diffusion across pulmonary alveolar membranes.

Analysis of a dust sample from your home can determine if your home may be contaminated with one of these pesticides, thus contributing to your health problems.

What am I going to do if my lab analyses show toxicity caused by these pesticides?

The Environmental Health Center-Dallas has developed a treatment program to specifically address toxicity issues created by these pesticides.

The EHC-D enlists your assistance in reducing your toxic body burden, reducing your symptoms, and improving your health:

  • Consider your past environmental exposures.
  • Contact EHC-D at 214-373-5146 if you have used or lived in a home where one of these pesticides was present.
  • Contact EHC-D if you have lived near agricultural fields where these pesticides have been used.

EHC-D can help. We can evaluate your system for the presence of chemicals.
EHC-D can evaluate the air quality in your home.
EHC-D can treat your symptoms.
EHC-D can reduce your body burden of pesticides.

If interested in a consultation or an appointment, please contact 214-373-5146.

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