A study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, has exposed the rate of pesticide exposure in children. The study investigated the impact of organic food compared to regular food.
The study confirms previous findings specifying that children consuming primarily organic food in non-agricultural households with no residential pesticide use have minimal or no pesticide exposures and reported a decrease in urinary pyrethroid pesticide metabolite concentrations in children during the organic diet phase. The lower urinary pesticide metabolite concentrations found in children eating organic diets is consistent with food residue monitoring data that has shown lower pesticide residue levels in organic versus conventionally grown food.
The current study consisted of an organic diet intervention study in young, low-income Mexican-American children living in urban and agricultural communities. The scientists reported the results of 23 urinary metabolites of OP and pyrethroid insecticides, as well as several herbicidal compounds.
The study participants consisted of 40 children, 20 residing in an urban community in the Fruitvale area of Oakland, California, and 20 residing in a predominantly agricultural community in Salinas, California. Eligible families had a child who was between 3 and 6 years of age, was toilet trained, and normally consumed conventional (non-organic) foods. For participating Salinas families, at least one household resident worked in agriculture.
Families participated in the study for 16 consecutive days and a baseline questionnaire was administered to collect information on household characteristics and pesticide exposure behaviors (e.g., recent pesticide use at home or workplace). The researchers conducted a home inspection to record information on pest infestations, pesticide active ingredients, and proximity to agricultural fields; provided materials for urine specimen collection; and trained parents on how to collect urine specimens and complete child food intake diaries. Parents also submitted a grocery list for food items to be consumed during the organic diet phase, and the food was delivered to the family on the fourth day. Parents recorded all of the food items and portion size consumed by the child each day based on validated guidelines. Staff conducted daily in-person interviews with the mother when they picked up the urine specimen and the food intake diaries.
The research findings revealed that consistent with other studies, urinary 2,4-D and two measures of OP pesticide exposure (total DMs and total DAP metabolites) were lower in children eating an organic diet. Other frequently detected metabolites for pyrethroids.
The researchers recommend that additional research is needed to clarify the importance of dietary and nondieetary sources of pesticide exposure in children as the study revealed that there was non dietary pesticide exposure as well.