Researchers have called for governments to phase out organophosphate pesticides in agriculture, ban their non-agricultural uses, and take steps to reduce human exposure to organophosphates. The researchers’ argument is based on systematic reviews that link foetal organophosphate exposure to adverse effects on the development of children’s brain and nervous system.
The paper suggests that farms should educate their workers on how to avoid exposing themselves and their families to pesticides, and use integrated pest management strategies to reduce pesticide use, such as traps, crop rotation or biological controls.
- Widespread use of organophosphate (OP) pesticides to control insects has resulted in ubiquitous human exposures.
- High exposures to OP pesticides are responsible for poisonings and deaths, particularly in developing countries.
- Compelling evidence indicates that prenatal exposure at low levels is putting children at risk for cognitive and behavioral deficits and for neurodevelopmental disorders.
To protect children worldwide, we recommend the following:
- Governments phase out chlorpyrifos and other OP pesticides, monitor watersheds and other sources of human exposures, promote use of integrated pest management (IPM) through incentives and training in agroecology, and implement mandatory surveillance of pesticide-related illness.
- Health professions implement curricula on the hazards from OP pesticides in nursing and medical schools and in continuing medical education courses and educate their patients and the public about these hazards.
- Agricultural entities accelerate the development of nontoxic approaches to pest control through IPM and ensure the safety of workers through training and provision of protective equipment when toxic chemicals are to be used.
Hertz-Picciotto, I., Sass, J.B., Engel, S., Bennett, D.H., Bradman, A., Eskenazi, B., Lanphear, B. and Whyatt, R., 2018. Organophosphate exposures during pregnancy and child neurodevelopment: Recommendations for essential policy reforms. PLoS medicine, 15(10), p.e1002671.
Read the full paper here and read media coverage here. See also the Foodsource resource How are food systems and health connected and influenced?