Below is a quick reference to some of the most powerful medical studies
showing serious health dangers from exposure to common pesticides. Anyone
who currently uses a pest control company or purchases their own chemical
pesticides to spray their home, office or lawn needs to carefully read
the following information. The research below provides sufficient evidence
that chemical pesticide use in the home and yard could be seriously increasing
risks for both present and future health problems.
Pesticides Increase Risk of Leukemia in Children
Children who live in homes where indoor or outdoor pesticides are used face a far greater chance of developing leukemia (leukemia is a cancer of the blood). The study, published in July's 1987 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, studied 123 Los Angeles children with leukemia and 123 children without the malignancy. The results showed the children living in the pesticide treated homes had nearly a 4 times greater risk of developing the disease. If the children lived in homes where pesticides were used in the garden as well, the risk of developing leukemia was 6.5 times greater. All of the children in the study were 10 years of age or younger.
Dr. John Peters
Vapors Inside Home Still Present Weeks after Application
In research to determine the amount of indoor air contamination following routine indoor application of pesticides, it was found the levels of the pesticide Dursban drop to only one-sixth of its original 1 hour level four days after appication. The research was conducted by Dow Chemical (1). The no-odor pesticide Ficam was reported to have an air half-life of approximately 10 days (2).
Problems After Indoor Use of Pesticide Dursban
The pesticide Dursban (also called chlorpyrifos), commonly used in indoor and lawn pest control, is now showing evidence of causing immune system disorders in people. In a study by the Department of Health Science at California State University, 12 individuals, which included a teacher, six housewifes, a retail owner, a musician and an engineer, were studied for 1 to 4.5 years after they became ill when their home or place of employment was treated with the pesticide. The researchers were investigating for any abnormalities in immune system function. Immediately following each patient's exposure to the pesticide, common complaints included an initial flu-like illness followed by chronic complaints of fatigue, headaches, dizziness, loss of memory, upper and lower respiratory symptoms, joint and muscle pain and gastrointestinal disturbances. The subjects were found to have an elevated number of CD26 cells and a higher rate of autoimmune problems, compared with two other control groups. (Autoimmune disorders occur when the person's own immune system mistakenly makes antibodies which attack their own body.) Autoantibodies were found toward smooth muscle, parietal cell, brush border, thyroid gland, myelin, and ANA. 83% of the pesticide exposed people were found to have autoantibodies in their blood, in comparison to only 15% for non-exposed control group. 50% of the pesticide exposed people were also found to have two or more autoantibodies in comparison to only 4% for the non-exposed group.
In conclusion the researchers stated,
"the presence of several different types of autoantibodes, e.g., antimyelin, antismooth muscle, anti brush boarder, and antimicrosomal, indicates that generalized tissue injury has occured. Moreover, these identical observations have been made in additional chlorpyrifos patients (research in progress). Thus, chlorpyrifos (Dursban), as used in pesticide spray, shlould be examined more closely as a probable immunotoxin."Jack D. Thrasher Ph.D., Roberta Madison, Alan Broughton
Department of Health Science, California State University
Archives of Environmental Health, 48(2):89-93, March/April 1993
Treatments Cause Illegally High Air Pesticide Levels
Applying common flea pesticide treatments to carpets results in illegally high air pesticide levels in homes which lasts for over 24 hours after application. This was the conclusion of research conducted by Dr. Richard A. Fenske, Assistant Professor at Rutgers University. Tests were conducted by applying the common pesticide Chlorpyrifos (Dursban) for flea treatment by a licensed Pest Control Applicator to three rooms of an unoccupied apartment in New Jersey in June, 1987. Air sampling equipment was installed above the floor at the levels expected for an adult sitting in a chair and that of an infant. After application, samples were taken at 30 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hours, 3 hours, 5 hours, 7 hours and 24 hours. Results showed that at 5 hours post application, indoor air levels of the pesticide was nearly twice above the legal limit in homes with ventilation (an open window) and over 6 times above the legal limit at 7 hours where windows were closed. Levels at the infant breathing zone were nearly 10 times above the legal limit at 7 hours and over 3 times the legal limit even after 24 hours. These results show it is incorrect when Pesticide Applicators state it is safe to return home several hours after application. In fact, levels at 7 hours were 3-5 times higher than the 1.5 hour level. In conclusion the researchers stated,
"Despite uncertainties in exposure/absorption estimates and toxicological interpretation, the dose values derived in this study raise a public health concern. Broadcast applications and possibly total release aerosol/fogging applications of acutely toxic insecticides may result in dermal and respiratory exposures sufficient to cause measurable toxicological responses in infants.Richard A. Fenske, Ph.D., MPH, Kathleen G. Black, MPH
Ken P. Elkner, MS
Department of Environmental Sciences and Graduate Program in Public Health, Rutgers University
American Journal Public Health, 80(6):689-693, 1990
Inhalation Associated with Brain and Lung Cancer
A study of 3,827 Florida pesticide applicators employed for 20 or more years found they had nearly 3 times the risk for developing lung cancer. The same study also showed the pesticide applicators had twice the risk for brain cancer. There was not any increased cancer risk when applicators were studied for only 5 years implying it takes over 5 years to accumulate enough damage to the genetic structure to develop the cancers.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 71(1), July 1983
Caused by Exposure to Lawn Pesticides
The pesticide MCPA, used as an ingredient is some lawn pesticides, has been found to damage a part of the brain known as the blood brain barrier (1). The blood brain barrier is the brain's primary defense system which works to keep toxic substances out of the brain cells and is literally protecting all of us from developing immediate neurological illness. The blood brain barrier has been found to be defective more often in patients with Alzheimers and some psychiatric disorders (2). In fact, the lack of functioning of the blood brain barrier in the human infant has been reported on many occasions as being the reason why an infant is being found to develop brain damage after exposure to common chemicals while an adult with a mature blood brain barrier does not. Unfortunately, EPA neurotoxicologist Dr. Bill Sette stated EPA does not yet require chemical companies to test any of their pesticides for causing blood brain barrier damage. Another study of 56 men exposed to organophosphate pesticides detected memory problems and difficulty in maintaining alertness and focusing attention (3). Each of these studies will be listed here in greater detail shortly as our web site completes development. As the understanding of blood brain barrier function is of critical importance to understanding why one individual can receive more damage to his/her nervous system than someone else, we will also include a blood brain barrier site with the address www.chem-tox.com/bbb.
1. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 65:23, 1982
Defects Increase After Pesticide Exposure -
Hydrocephaly & Cleft Palete
Of the many different types of pesticides (which include insecticides, herbicides and fungicides), it was found that the common fungicide "cyproconazole" caused serious defects when administered to test animals. This chemical is reported to be widely used in agriculture and is a member of the family of fungicides known as triazole fungicides. It's closely related family members include the fungicides triadimefon, triadimenol, bitertanol, flusilazole, 1,2,4-triazole, and propiconazole. Each of these pesticides were reported in this article as being capable of causing birth defects in test animals when administered at doses as low as 30 mg/kg. These chemicals are far more toxic than even standard insecticides. The "No Observable Effect Level" (which means the maximum amount of the chemical that test animals can be exposed to without seeing any adverse effects) is reported to be only 2 mg/kg for flusilazole.
The study on the effects of cyproconazole (lets call it CPZ for simplicity) was headed by Dr. K. Machera, at the Laboratory of Pesticide Toxicology in Athens, Greece. Dr. Machera exposed 10 pregnant animals to different levels of CPZ ranging from 20-75 mg/kg from the 6th to the 16th day of pregnancy. On the 21st day of pregnancy the animals were sacrificed and the number of implantations, resorption sites and live and dead fetuses were recorded. The fetuses were weighed and examined for abnormalities.
Results showed the number of resorptions (similar to an early miscarriage) was over 8 times greater for the animals exposed to the 50 and 75 mg/kg doses. The fetal length was significantly smaller in doses from 50 mg/kg up. The fetal body weight was significantly less even at the lowest dose of 20 mg/kg.
Cleft Palate did not occur in any of the 100 offspring not exposed to CPZ. However, cleft palate did occur in 2% of animals exposed to 20 mg/kg of CPZ, 20% of animals exposed to 50 mg/kg of CPZ and 91% of animals exposed to the highest 100 mg/kg dose.
The same trend was also seen with hydrocephalus - 0% for the animals not exposed to CPZ, 6% for animals exposed to 20 mg/kg, 19% for animals exposed to 50 mg/kg, 32% for animals exposed to 75 mg/kg and 100% for the 12 animals exposed to the 100 mg/kg level.
These studies demonstrate the definite potential for pesticides in the triazole family to increase the risk of lower birthweight, lower body length, as well as strongly increasing the risk of cleft palate and hydrocephalus. With results such as this in test animals, it would certainly be worthwhile to investigate the incidence of these conditions among people living in close proximity to agricultural areas. Dr. Machera did not state if these chemicals were used on residential lawns as an anti-fungal agent. Keep in mind that these studies were looking for physical defects and were not looking for neurological defects in offspring (which typically occur at much lower dosages).
Dr. K. Machera
Pesticide Linked to Cancer
The lawn pesticides, mancozeb and chlorothalonil (used by commercial lawn spray companies as fungicides), have been classified by EPA as "probable" cancer causing chemicals in humans as they have been found to cause cancer in animals (1). Mancozeb has also been found to react with sunlight to form a new compound EPA categorizes as a "known" human carcinogen (1). The common lawn pesticide 2,4-D has been shown to increase the risk of lymphatic cancer in farmers six times the normal rate according to a National Cancer Institute report (2).
Pesticide Chlordane Contaminates Most U.S. Homes
There is approximately a 75% chance you are breathing the pesticide chlordane every minute you are inside your home if your home was built before March of 1988. Other studies have shown there is a 6-7% chance you are breathing dangerously high levels of the pesticide which are above the guidelines set by the National Academy of Sciences. This problem is occurring because over 30 million homes were treated with the chemical prior to its being banned by the EPA in March of 1988. The air chlordane studies were conducted by the U.S. Air Force and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Regulation. Over 1000 homes and apartments were tested in different parts of the nation. The researchers stated they expect the figures to remain the same throughout the country because of standardized application practices by the pest control companies. If you would like more detailed information on the chlordane problem and the health effects suspected for the millions of Americans living in chlordane treated homes - visit the chlordane web site by clicking on this link.
Samuel S. Epstein and David Ozonoff
Cause Hyperactivity in Test Animals
After Single Dose
Groups of test animals exposed to different pesticides used in agriculture and lawn care showed over 50% more activity following a single exposure to the chemical. One of the main goals of this experiment, conducted by Dr. J. A. Mitchell and colleagues at the University of Michigan, was to investigate activity behavioral changes in test animals (male Swiss mice) following a single exposure to one of 4 different dosages of weed killers and fungicides. The chemicals used included Lasso (containing alachlor), Basalin (containing fluchloralin), Premiere (containing dinoseb) and the fungicide Maneb-80 (80% Maneb).. Test dosages ranged from a very low .4 mg/kg to 4 mg/kg to 40 mg/kg. Even the largest dose was still below the LD-50 for the animals (the amount needed to kill 50% of the test animals). According to the researchers, the herbicides and fungicides have received few reports investigating their toxicity while their yearly growth and production have grown far more than the insecticides.
The detection of hyperactivity was measured by placing the test animals in steel cages that were equipped with electronic motion detectors which used infrared beams to count specific movements by the animals. After the single chemical exposure, activity was measured for a 4 hour period. Results showed the weed killer "Lasso" did not show any effects at the very low .4 mg/kg level but did show over a 65% increase in activity at the low 4 mg/kg and a 75% increase at the higher 40 mg/kg level. The weed killer Dinoseb also showed no activity increases at the lowest .4 mg/kg dose but did show a 15% increase at the 4 mg/kg level and a 54% increase at the larger 40 mg/kg level. Other researchers have reported that activity provides a sensitive measure for evaluating the behavioral effects of the pyrethroid pesticide, deltamethrin, at doses that did not cause the characteristic neurotoxicological syndrome (6).
In conclusion the researchers stated,
"The results of this study suggest that at least some herbicides, in addition to pyrethrins, organophosphate, and carbamate pesticides, can produce behavioral manifestations following accidental exposure...The effects of the pesticides on activity also support the hypothesis that these agents may affect the central nervous system."Dr. J. A. Mitchell, S. F. Long
Dept. of Pharmacology, University of Mississippi
The Behavioral Effects of Pesticides in Male Mice
Neurotoxicology and Teratology, Vol. 11:45-50, 1989
Causes Neurological Disorders and A.D.D. Symptoms
In 1987, over 250 adults and children were exposed to the pesticide chlordane when the wooden building surfaces and soil around their apartment complex was sprayed. Their exposure came from the vapors that entered into their home for the years after the chemical's application. Levels inside the homes were reported above 0.5 m g/m3.
In June-September 1994, 216 adult occupants or former residents of the apartment complex were examined by researchers at the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles. The 109 women and 97 men were given a battery of neurological tests to determine if the low levels of chlordane in their apartments was causing any harmful effects. The tests given are considered sensitive indicators of neurotoxicity. To determine if chlordane was in fact causing neurological problems, the test scores of the chlordane exposed adults were compared to the test scores of 94 women and 68 men from Houston, known not to have been exposed to chlordane.
Results of the testing showed many negative effects upon mental function from the low levels of air chlordane. Not only were test scores lower for reaction time, balance, and memory, but also worse scores were observed in the test checking for attention deficits (digit symbol) and all tests of mood scores including tension, depression, anger, vigor and fatigue.
Going beyond the neurological testing, both groups were also investigated for many common symptoms and illnesses. Those which were significantly more common in the chlordane exposed group included asthma, allergies, production of phlegm, chronic bronchitis by Medical Research Council criteria, and wheezing with and without shortness of breath. Headaches and indigestion were also more common among the chlordane exposed individuals.
In summary Dr. Kilburn and Thornton summarized their findings by stating,
"The exposure of our study group appears to be from indoor air, due to the outgassing of chlordane from the wooden surfaces of the apartment complex... Examination of subjects exposed in their homes to chlordane as compared to referent subjects showed significant, and we suggest important, impairment of both the neurophysiological and psychological functions including mood states. Accompanying these changes were significant differences in symptom frequency and in respiratory rheumatic and cardiovascular disease symptoms. The most notable changes were slowing of reaction time, balance dysfunction as revealed by increased sway speed, reduction in cognitive function, perceptual motor speed, and immediate and delayed verbal recall... The neurobehavioral impairments measured in this environmental epidemiological study were similar to those noted in patients exposed to chlordane at home. These impairments include probably irreversible dysfunction of the brain. Possible effects on trigeminal nerve-pons-facial nerve function were suggested for the first time. Confirmatory studies, including follow-up after removal from exposure, are urgently needed. Meanwhile, chlordane use should be prohibited worldwide."This study should generate heightened concern because of the large number of neurological and health effects seen at chlordane air levels of above 0.5m g/m3 (typical levels for most U.S. homes) and statements by researchers that developing children are harmed more by chemicals than adults. For more information on the chlordane problem and the health effects of living in a chlordane treated home - visit the chlordane web site by clicking on this link.
Dr. Kaye H. Kilburn and John C. Thornton
After Pesticide Chlordane Exposure
In the following study, researchers divided mice into
three groups of ten mice each. Two groups were subjected to either a low
or higher level of chlordane and the third group was used as a control
group not exposed to any chlordane. After 30 days of daily exposure, the
animals were sacrificed and the testicles were examined. The researchers
stated that the chlordane exposed groups showed obvious changes to the
part of the testicles where sperm development occurs (called the seminiferous
tubules). Damaged tubules were present in 19% of the lower chlordane exposed
animals - 31% of the higher chlordane exposed animals and only 3% in the
animals not exposed to chlordane. There was also a reduction in the seminiferous
tubule diameter in the higher chlordane exposed group. More details of
this research can be seen at the infertility web site at
Dr. K. J. Balash, M. A. Al-Omar, et al.
|Additional Lawn Pesticide Information
For further detailed information on lawn pesticide risks and personal accounts please visit - www.ncf.carleton.ca/~bf250/state.html. This is an excellent resource for lawn pesticide information - don't miss it!
ADDITIONAL PESTICIDE INFORMATION
More Serious Than Previously Believed
We are offering the book "PESTICIDE DANGERS" which contains all the information on this web site in a permanent, neatly bound format. It also includes additional pesticide research providing greater details into the pesticide studies. Other topics include environmental harm from pesticides, health effects studies of pesticides found in food and results of the pesticide food contamination study by the Flordia Department of Agriculture (Florida supplies produce to the U.S. during the winter).
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Long term exposure to common pesticides have now been linked to causing many illnesses including brain cancer, child leukemia, immune system disorders, more frequent infections, nervous system damage, depression, learning disabilities in test animals and autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system malfunctions, mistakenly attacking the individual and include such illnesses as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus.
These health problems are occurring because home pesticides are being found to evaporate into the indoor air from weeks to in some cases months after application, thereby exposing all household members to low dose levels of pesticides practically every hour they are in their home or office. Lawn and shrubbery pesticides can also be a serious health risk as even more toxic chemicals are used outside and can also find their way into the home.
Many customers are told by their pest control company that their chemicals are "safe," however, there is now enough research to state this is not true and your repeated exposure to these chemicals is increasing your risk for future health problems. Just as cigarettes increase the likelihood of developing future heart and lung problems, pesticides now appear to increase the risk of developing future immune system and neurological problems. In an attempt to try to ease the concerns of customers, pest control services often tell their clients their chemicals are "less toxic than salt." What they fail to mention is that "toxic," in this context, is only referring to the number of lab animals that can be killed with a single large dose of the chemical. At lower, repeated doses of pesticides to an individual, there will be many more health effects that salt would not show, such as memory loss, fatigue, personality disorders, weakening of the immune system, increased infections and duration of infections, etc.).
The index above summarizes the more important pesticide health studies and lists the medical documentation as well. There are several alternative methods to chemical pest control that are even more effective than present chemical practices, however, since routine chemical treatments are highly profitable, there is currently no incentive for pest control companies to stop current practice. Only after the public is made aware of the health risks will the industry be motivated to change.
An additional note - I personally stopped using chemical pest control services 5 years ago and have not had my home treated since. However, I do use a non-volatile pest control method (non-volatile means the substance does not evaporate into the air). This procedure was developed in a research project on 10 homes for over 7 years in Vero Beach, Florida. It works extremely well, is less expensive, will not harm human health, does not pollute the air or cause storm water run-off pollution, and does not harm wildlife, all of which does occur with current chemical pest control methods. This alternative method is described at no cost to pest control companies or anyone interested in alternative methods. It can be seen at the Safe Pest Control web site by clicking Safe Pest Control.