Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report recommending that parent’s dramatically limit their children’s exposure to pesticides. Why? Because children who are routinely exposed to pesticides are at a greater risk for “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.”
Don’t think your child is exposed all that often?
Think again. The report says, “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity.”
Daily. Did that word make you gasp? It made me gasp. How are our children exposed that frequently?
The report continues:
Children encounter pesticides daily in air, food, dust, and soil and on surfaces through home and public lawn or garden application, household insecticide use, application to pets, and agricultural product residues.
For many children, diet may be the most influential source, as illustrated by an intervention study that placed children on an organic diet (produced without pesticide) and observed drastic and immediate decrease in urinary excretion of pesticide metabolites.
Diet may be the most influential source.
So, that would mean they’re recommending that we feed our children organic produce, right?
This, just a month after they posted a report saying that the benefit of feeding your child organic food was negligible.
So, which is it?
In the end, I don’t really care. What I do care about is reducing my child’s exposure to pesticides. Here’s my own strategy.
#1 — Eat Organic Produce
I don’t necessarily mean certified organic, either. A number of my local farmers grow chemical-free food in ways that go far beyond organic certification standards, creatively tending their plot of earth with super smart methods that build top soil, produce beautiful crops, and do it all without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.
Yet, they’re not certified organic. They say it’s too costly or involves too much paper work.
Want to know if a farmer uses chemical pesticides or fertilizers?
Every farmer I ever met has been downright proud to brag to me about his or her farming practices. Yes, that even goes for farmers who plant genetically-modified corn or cotton or spray their crops with pesticides.
Farmers are a proud, thoughtful lot. They’re hardworking. They’re going to tell it to you exactly like it is.
Most are happy to have you visit the farm and bring your children in tow. They’re an open book.
If a farmer isn’t open about their farming practices, then don’t buy from them. The old mantra still applies:
If you can’t afford to switch to entirely organic produce, then at least stay away from the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen. These are the produce that consistently test with the highest levels of pesticide residue. Opt to buy these guys organic, if you can. This year’s Dirty Dozen are:
- 1. Apples
3. Sweet bell peppers
#2 — Drink Purified Water
While the AAP report didn’t specifically address this, I will. It is a well established fact that we’ve got pesticides in our tap water. Pesticide residues leach into our water supply from farms, homes, city parks, you name it.
In fact, just a few days ago yet another news story reported that the pesticides in our tap water may be linked to an increased risk of food allergies.
My point? Everyone knows there are pesticides in our tap water! Yet, we still keep drinking it. Or, we filter it with insufficient filters.
Think you filter your tap water well enough with your pitcher?
Please think again.
Most pitcher filters only minimally reduce a few heavy metals and some chlorine. Their goal is to make your tap water taste better, not to actually purify your water!
You need to buy an actual purifier, not just a filter.
#3 — Avoid Pesticides in Your Home & Garden
I understand you may want a beautiful lawn. So do I.
I get that you want your kids to play in a place that’s free of ant piles or fleas. So do I.
But there are natural ways to go about getting it.
Buy an organic and natural fertilizer from your nearest natural garden center. Use compost in your garden. Buy some ladybugs and let them loose in your garden to munch on those aphids. Spray beneficial nematodes on your lawn in the spring so they can eat ant and grub and flea and termite larvae before they hatch.
You get the idea.
Have even better ideas?
Sound off in the comments below! Let’s help each other out.