State of Science :: Pesticides
A Predominantly Organic Diet Virtually Eliminates Children's Exposures to Two Common Insecticides
A team based at the University of Washington in Seattle has published an important study showing that in school-age children, a diet composed of predominantly organic food provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorous (OP) pesticides.
Twenty-three children were enrolled in the study, which included three phases of testing for OP insecticide metabolites in urine. The first phase followed a period when the children consumed a diet containing conventionally grown foods, the second phase of testing came after five days of a predominantly organic diet, and the third, after a return to a conventional diet.
All 23 children had OP insecticide metabolites in their urine in phase one testing, while levels were below the limit of detection during phase two for all children, following the consumption of mostly organic food for just five days. Once the children were back on their normal, conventional food in phase three, the levels of insecticide metabolites in urine returned to those found in phase one.
This carefully designed and conducted study confirms the findings of a similar study conducted by many of the same team members (Curl et al., 2003). Together, the two studies support two key conclusions:
First, on a daily basis, the majority of the exposures to OP insecticides among children are coming through the diet and are the result of OP insecticide use on crops, rather than uses in the home, schools, and residential environments.
Second, consuming food grown using organic production methods can virtually eliminate exposures to a dangerous class of insecticides known to disrupt neurological development in infants and children.
Sources: Organic Diets Significantly Lower Childrens Dietary Exposure to Organophosphorous Pesticides.
Authors: Chensheng Lu, Kathryn Toepel, Rene Irish, Richard Fenske, Dana Barr, and Robert Bravo
Environmental Health Perspectives, Online September 1, 2005. Accessible at http://dx.doi.org
Organophosphorous Pesticide Exposure of Urban and Suburban Pre-school Children with Organic and Conventional Diets.
Authors: Cynthia Curl, Richard Fenske, Katherine Elgethun
Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 111 (2003): pages 377-382.