Posted by Claudia Grazioso on October 20, 2011
Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide frequently used in farming. How frequently? About 20 to 24 million pounds of it are applied to crops in the United States each year. It’s used on ornamental flowers, cotton, grains, fruit, nuts and vegetable crops. It’s also very toxic and has been linked to all sorts of health problems including developmental disorders. Considering developmental disorders seem to be close to becoming somewhat of an epidemic in this country, maybe chlorpyrifos deserves a closer look.
Poisoning with chlorpyrifos can result in damage to the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems. But you don’t actually have to be “poisoned” with it for the ill effects of this toxic substance to show up. Exposure to this substance in the womb has been linked to an increase in mental and motor development problems, as well as disorders like ADHD. A 1996 study found that babies who were exposed in utero to chlorpyrifos had “extensive and unusual patterns of birth defects including brain, nervous system, eyes, ears, palate, teeth, heart, feet, nipples and genitalia” defects. Additionally, similar problems have been noted in children and animals exposed to this pesticide. Chronic exposure, which might occur in children or moms living close to a farm where this pesticide is routinely used, can result in developmental disorders, neurological problems and autoimmune disorders. And, frighteningly, these effects can occur even in children who have relatively low exposure to chlorpyrifos.
The crops that chlorpyrifos is most commonly used on are corn, cotton, almonds and fruit trees like apples and oranges. We already know that apples have the dubious distinction of topping the list of the most pesticide-heavy foods. Now we know what at least one of those pesticides is and what it is capable of doing to a developing child’s body. And now almonds and oranges, too?
As a mom, it can make you feel helpless. But here’s the good news: Due to pressure brought by advocacy groups like Pesticide Action Network, some policymakers have agreed to take another look at whether chlorpyrifos is safe for use as an agribusiness pesticide. If you’re concerned about the loads of pesticides in our children’s fresh fruit and veggies, now wouldn’t be a bad time to speak up.