Pesticides and Kids

 What is a pesticide?

Children are often more vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides because of their small size and their rapid developmental and metabolic rates.

In addition, children’s behavior, including increased hand to mouth activity, a tendency to crawl and play in spaces that could be contaminated, and a lack of awareness about proper safety and sanitary habits, all put children at a higher risk. In some cases, childhood exposure to pesticides can cause serious health damage later on in an individual’s life. A pesticide is any substance used inside or outside to prevent, control, repel, or kill insects, plants, fungi, and other pests. Therefore, bug spray, weed killer, insect repellents, flea and tick collars and disinfect-ants are all forms of pesticides. Over the past 30 years, commercial and residential use of pesticides has skyrocketed. Today pesticides are commonly used both inside and outside and can be found in our soil, water, air, and bodies. Children may be exposed to pesticides by playing on floors, lawns, and play areas; eating pesticide-treated foods; or by handling treated pets. When pesticides are applied indoors as a spray or aerosol, vapors of-ten linger in the air. Small droplets from the sprays can end up on carpets, floors, desks, toys and other surfaces with which children may come into contact either by crawling or mouthing objects. Pesticide sprays used outdoors can drift into child care facilities and homes through ambient air or ventilation systems.

Pesticides and the Developing Child

Even low levels of some pesticide exposure are a threat to young developing bodies.

Many pesticides can take a very long time to break down. They persist indoors for weeks on furniture, toys and other surfaces and can persist for years in household dust. Research indicates that pesticide levels in indoor air are often higher than those found in outdoor air., reproductive harm, kidney/liver damage, birth defects, nerve tissue dam-age and neurobehavioral problems.


Watch EWG president Ken Cook share shocking information about how babies are born pre-polluted with as many as 300 industrial chemicals in their bodies. One of the most entertaining and sobering presentations that you’ll see about the health effects of pesticides and environmental pollution.

Pesticides in Food and Liquids

Pesticide residues are commonly found in food. Studies have shown that children eat more food that contains high levels of pesticides, such as fruits and vegetables like apples, strawberries, and fruit juices. Water can also contain pesticides from agricultural, industrial, and residential runoff. Because children consume more liquids and food in proportion to their body weight than adults do, these daily sources of hazardous chemicals can be especially dangerous to them. Once ingested, chemicals may accumulate in human fatty tissue and can have serious long-term health effects on a child as s/he grows.

When you grow your own fruits and veggies, especially the ones that are most prone to have been drenched in pesticides, you decrease the threat to your children.

How You Can Help Protect Children From Pesticides

Educate yourself about the hazards of pesticides by visiting informational websites. 

In the Garden. ALWAYS wash your hands after playing outside. Leave your shows by the door. Learn more about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and use IPM strategies for household and garden pests. Try to garden organically. Every few years more pesticides are banned as we discover the detrimental effects they have on human health. Pesticides and insecticides are not necessary if you learn to use natural methods such as companion planting to attract beneficial insects, trap cropping and barriers.

In the home. Keep a clean home, with a kitchen clear of food and a dry bathroom, to discourage pests. Without food and water pests can’t live and you can prevent them from invading your home. 

In school. Be proactive, learn about your state and local pesticide regulations and encourage school officials to use IPM inside and outside the school building.

In your diet. Use products labeled “certified organic,” which are free of pesticides. When organic products are not available or are too costly, thoroughly rinse all produce with water before consumption. Also, since toxic chemicals are stored in fatty tissues, a diet low in fat can increase your health.


SOURCES: Health Hazards in the Garden found at Garden Safety with Kids found at…