In a new study researchers in the U.S. have shown that organic diets meant that children had less exposure to two common pesticides.
According to a study by Emory University researcher Chensheng “Alex” Lu, PhD, an organic diet was found to lower children’s dietary exposure to two common pesticides used in U.S. agricultural production.
Lu says the substitution of organic food items for children’s normal diets substantially decreased the pesticide concentration to non-detectable levels.
He says previous research has linked organophosphorus pesticides to causes of neurological effects in animals and humans, and the use of such pesticides in residential areas has now either been banned or restricted by recent regulatory changes.
This he says helps to minimize children’s exposure, but few restrictions have as yet been imposed on agriculture.
In his initial research, Dr. Lu and his colleagues from Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), specifically measured the exposure of two organophosphorus pesticides (OP) malathion and chlorpyrifos, in 23 elementary students in the Seattle area by testing their urine over a 15-day period.
The children age ages 3 to 11-years-old, were first monitored for three days on their conventional diets before the researchers substituted most of the children’s conventional diets with organic food items for five consecutive days.
The children were then re-introduced to their normal foods and monitored for an additional seven days.
According to Dr. Lu, there was a “dramatic and immediate protective effect” against the pesticides until the conventional diets were re-introduced.
While they consumed organic diets, most of the children’s urine samples contained zero concentration for the malathion metabolite.
However, once the children returned to their conventional diets, the average malathion metabolite concentration increased to 1.6 parts per billion with a concentration range from 5 to 263 parts per billion.
Dr. Lu reviewed his findings from the recent study at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in St. Louis, entitled, ‘Opportunities to Reduce Children’s Exposures to Pesticides Through Organic Food and Farming’.
The study was funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Revision date: June 11, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD