Pesticides - General Information
Pesticides - General Information Print E-mail

Organic Bytes #88

Not only are pesticides the number two cause of household poisonings in the U.S., but their use dramatically adds to our toxic load. Pesticides are stored in the fatty tissues of the body and are therefore able to accumulate to very high levels.
(Consumer advocate Debra Lynn Dadd, in her book “Home Safe Home: Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Everyday Toxics and Harmful Household Products, 1997)

According to William Rea, M.D., author of Chemical Sensitivities, modern technology put astronauts into space, but ironically, this very accomplishment called other so-called “advances” into question. Viewing the earth from space revealed that our blue planet, on closer inspection, was environmentally polluted. Dr. Rea wrote that the factors that influence the onset of chemical sensitivity are a total body toxic load and the nutritional state. Although some chemical exposure is the result of criminal negligence, more often it is because the public mistakenly believes that whatever is marketed has been proven safe. You can boost your immune system with proper supplementation, but beware because heavily advertised vitamins are full of artificial fillers, colorings, and preservatives. Doris Rapp, M.D., environmental specialist, recommends a program of cleansing and rebuilding the body in order to strengthen the immune system, remove toxicity, balance emotions and increase energy.
(“Multiple Chemical Sensitivity,” www.alternativemedicine.com - April 2002)



The organophosphate class of chemicals, which are the most commonly used pesticide and termiticide, can induce slow onset (pesticide induced) neuropathies, including Guillian-Barre syndrome. A high proportion of these patients exposed to these chemicals develop chemical sensitivities. The Apollo astronauts viewed the extent of the pollution when viewing the earth from space and stated, “man has fouled his nest and this must be corrected.” As the number of dangerous pollutants continues to multiply, so do reports of the numbers of people sensitive to these contaminants. Cindy Duehring (in Environmental Access Research Network in an article called, “Screening for Nervous System Damage From Chemical Exposure”) wrote that the most dangerous illusion that our society has brought forth, is the false belief that the chemical ingredients in our everyday home and office consumer products have been tested for health effects.
(“Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, What It Is, What It Is Not, And How It Is Manifested,” presented at the concurrent session of the 1995 conference of the Association on Higher Education and Disability. Presented by Sheila Bastien, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist)

Many Americans ingest carcinogens in their drinking water. Every growing season, a portion of the millions of pounds of pesticides applied to crops wash off into waterways or seep deep into soil and end up in drinking water. A 1990 Environmental Protection Agency survey found that 10.4% of community water system wells and 4.2% of rural domestic wells contain one or more pesticides. Pesticides are generally not removed by the standard water treatment technologies used by most water companies.
(“Cancer and the Environment,” psrus.org - Physicians for Social Responsibility, April 2002)



Disturbing were the facts from two studies of indoor air contaminants conducted during the late 1980s in Jacksonville, Fla., and Springfield, Mass. In those places investigators found that indoor air contained at least five (but typically 10 or more) times higher concentrations of pesticides than outside air - and those residues included insecticides approved only for outdoor use. Such poisons can be tracked in on people’s shoes, or may seep through the soil as a gas into homes. In addition, people sometimes apply inappropriate pesticides directly to indoor surfaces, unaware that they are causing their own high exposures. And even the most enlightened homeowners are often ignorant of past applications of dangerous chemicals. Pesticides that break down within days outdoors may last for years in carpets, where they are protected from the degradation caused by sunlight and bacteria.

DDT was outlawed in 1972 because of its toxicity but researchers from the Southwest Research Institute found that 90 of the 362 Midwestern homes they examined in 1992 and 1993 had DDT in the carpets, and in half the households surveyed, the concentrations of seven toxic organic chemicals which cause cancer in animals (and thought to induce cancer in humans) were above the levels that would trigger a formal risk assessment for residual soil at a Superfund site. The pesticides and volatile organic compounds found indoors cause perhaps 3,000 cases of cancer a year in the U.S., making these substances just as threatening to nonsmokers as radon or secondhand tobacco smoke (“Everyday Exposure to Toxic Pollutants,” Scientific American, by Wayne Ott, and John W. Roberts, both of whom have long studied environmental threats to health) Ott served 30 years in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), managing research on air pollution, toxic substances and human exposure. He now does research at Stanford University. John Roberts helped to develop the service samplers used by the EPA to measure pollutants in carpet dust. In 1982 he founded Engineering Plus, a small firm in Seattle specializing in assessing and controlling exposure to dangerous pollutants in the home. He works frequently with the master home environmentalist program in Seattle to help reduce the exposure of families to indoor pollutants.
(www.sciam.com - 1998)


Of all the products listed, pesticides and cleaning products containing glycol ethers are of greatest concern. Pesticides are also of greatest concern because they have been documented in many cases to cause neurological and organ damage, and many people may be exposed to them without knowing it. This is especially troubling now that odor-masking agents are being added to pesticides, so the telltale odor of recent pesticide applications is no longer a reliable warning. Products containing glycol ethers are of concern because they are common to many cleaning products - glycol ethers have been shown to be far more damaging to the central nervous system than previously believed.

All public places are cleaned with surface cleaning agents, and often fragrances are used to deodorize or scent the air. Many public places are also frequently treated with pesticides. One study found high levels of pesticide chlorpyrifos in carpeting and other furnishings, including children’s toys, more than 10 years after the last time the product was used in the home!

Another complication is that an individual may be exposed to a pesticide and another irritating product at the same time. Pesticides have a tendency to alter how the liver, the primary organ for decontaminating the body, processes chemicals in the bloodstream. When this decontamination process is altered, then environmental chemicals that have made their way into the bloodstream may not be removed quickly enough to avoid some sort of toxic effect.
(“Make the Connection: Health & Environment,” www.herc.org - 2001)

Exposure to chemicals, such as fertilizers and pesticides, were found to suffer twice the risk of what’s known as Lou Gehrig’s disease than those who never encounter these chemicals (American Journal of Epidemiology). This disease is called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a condition that destroys the nerves that control muscles - there is no known cure.
(“Lou Gehrig’s Disease Linked to Pesticides and Fertilizer, Nutrition News, Energy Times, Sept. 1997)

The average American eats about 14 pounds of additives each year. Recent estimates suggest that each year there are 3,000,000 severe pesticide poisonings with 220,000 deaths worldwide. Pesticide-related illnesses in the U.S. are estimated to occur as many as 300,000 times a year.
(Pamphlet “Enjoy Vibrant Health in a Toxic World,” Dr. Paul Stangil, Charlottesville, Virginia, 2001)

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