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Pregnant? Don't Go Anywhere Near This

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Evidence that organophosphate insecticides are dangerous for the prenatal health of children is so great that leading researchers are calling for a complete ban on the chemicals. The findings have concluded that even when their pregnant moms have very low exposures to the insecticides, the children have lower IQs and difficulties with learning, memory or attention, said lead author Irva Hertz-Picciotto, of the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center.

Herz-Picciotto added that, while the focus has been on just one of the organophosphate compounds — chlorpyrifos — their study implicated the entire class of insecticides. The team’s recommendations include removing organophosphates from both agricultural and nonagricultural uses.

Although you may not have heard of chlorpyrifos, scientists at Harvard University assert it's very likely to be found inside your body based on the fact it is the most widely-used pesticide on American farms. Notable is that the U.S. Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) banned chlorpyrifos from household use in 2000 — yet, it continues to be sprayed on agricultural crops, as well as routinely applied to golf courses and public spaces.

The researchers in the featured study were quick to note pesticide regulations vary widely around the world and are not always well enforced. Even when a certain toxic pesticide is banned in one country, it can still be exported elsewhere.

Very often these products end up in developing countries. Regions like Central America, where agricultural chemicals are less regulated, have been impacted. In addition, earlier this year, I discussed how agrochemicals have increased birth defects and deformities in Argentinian children.

Besides the call to ban organophosphates, the group of study authors offered a number of specific recommendations to help protect children, including implementing mandatory surveillance of pesticide-related illnesses and encouraging the development of nontoxic approaches to pest control through the use of integrated pest management.

While the battle around OPs and other toxic pesticides is waged, you can safeguard your health and the health of your children at the most basic level by purchasing organic, pesticide-free foods as often as possible. For more tips, check out my article "Which Fruits and Vegetables Have the Most Pesticides?" or refer to the EWG's "2018 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.”

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