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The Harming Effects of Pesticide Exposure

Research has shown that pesticide exposure increases the risk for a variety of serious health problems. According to Dr. Cathy Vakil (2010) a larg number of studies have found a link between cancer rates and pesticide exposure.

Many studies have shown that pesticides may trigger neurological problems ranging from cognitive dysfunction to neurobehavioural issues to depression.

Indications from around the world show that pesticide exposure can increase the risk of birth defects and may affect fertility as well. Some studies suggest that the babies of women who are exposed to pesticides while pregnant or even before conception are at increased risk for death both in the womb and after birth.

There are a number of ways to reduce your exposure to pesticides, such as removing your shoes outside the front door (shoes acquire pesticide residues from treated lawns) and using natural methods to control garden pests. Organic pest control strategies include companion planting (some plants naturally repel pests); attracting insects such as ladybugs that eat aphids; and making environmentally friendly insecticides from natural ingredients such as onions, garlic, hot peppers, or natural soaps.

It’s also a good idea to purchase organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible, especially when buying produce that tends to have the highest levels of pesticide contamination, such as apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, potatoes, green beans, and kale (Environmental Working Group, 2012).

If you have the space, you can grow your own produce organically. Even if you don’t have a yard, many food plants grow well in containers.

If you do buy non-organic fruits and vegetables, Dr. Walter J. Krol (2012) recommends rinsing them for at least 30 seconds under tap water (rub the produce while rinsing to scrape off toxins). Don’t bother with detergents –they don’t provide any additional pesticide removal benefits over rinsing and rubbing.

Sources
Environmental Working Group, “EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” 2012 http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/
Krol, W.J., Dr., “Removal of Trace Pesticide Residues from Produce,” Department of Analytical Chemistry, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, 2012. http://www.ct.gov/caes/cwp/view.asp?a=2815&q=376676
United States Environmental Protection Agency, Citizen’s Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety, 2005. http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/Publications/Cit_Guide/citguide.pdf
Vakil, C., “Pesticides and Your Health, A Family Physician’s Perspective,” David Suzuki Foundation, 25 February 2010. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/docs-talk/2010/02/pesticides-and-your-health—a-family-physicians-perspective/

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