Pesticides damage American children's health

A research carried out by American scientists says children may be exposed to pesticides at school more often than we expect. Campaigners have called for action to protect children.

Researchers reporting in the July 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association say they found 2,593 acute pesticide-related illnesses associated with exposure in schools occurring between 1998 and 2002. Just last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that roughly 90 percent of Americans carry pesticides in their bodies, the health risks of which are largely unknown.

In this latest study, both students and school employees were affected, and school pesticide use wasn't always to blame. In about 30 percent of the cases, pesticide drift from adjacent farmland was the source of the exposure, Forbes informs.

"We looked at surveillance data from three surveillance systems for pesticide poisoning cases from pesticide exposure at school or from drift from neighboring farms, and found approximately 2,500 cases," said study co-author Dr. Geoffrey Calvert, a medical officer with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati.

The problem is also widely discussed and scrutinized in Great Britain.

The UK Pesticides Campaign called for immediate action to protect the public, and the replacement of chemicals with natural methods of pest control.

Georgina Downs, who heads the campaign was quoted as saying by BBC: "Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pesticide exposure because their bodies cannot efficiently detoxify and eliminate chemicals, their organs are still growing and developing." "I continue to receive reports of illnesses in children attending schools where pesticides are used, especially schools surrounded by crop fields that are repeatedly sprayed, throughout every year, with mixtures of pesticides. Pesticides have been sprayed around schools, people’s homes, offices and other places of human habitation for decades," she added.

The scientists recommended measures to improve the use of pesticides in schools, reduce pesticide drift and set up pesticide spray "buffer zones" around school buildings.

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