Household pesticides can harm human health

Cockroach baits, termite and ant treatments, household surface sprays, flea shampoos and head lice treatments are just some of the products we regularly use in our battle against household pests – but many contain ingredients that could seriously affect our health and that of our children.

The most common way people are exposed to pesticides is ingestion from residues on fruits and vegetables. But exposure from household pesticide use is increasingly coming under the spotlight and may well have a greater effect, especially on the most vulnerable in the community: the very young and unborn children.

The downside of keeping your home pest-free is that chemical residues can linger in the air and soil, and on floors, carpets and indoor surfaces, where we can breathe them in or absorb them through the skin. Some chemicals can have immediate and acute poisoning effects, while others can accumulate and remain in our bodies for years.

Simply because a pesticide is available for sale doesn’t automatically mean it’s safe. Numerous now-banned pesticides were once thought to be safe to use, but have since been implicated in many cases of cancer, neurological and reproductive problems.

Endocrine disruptors: Dr Michael Hansen, a US ecologist and expert on pesticides, has named 57 pesticides of concern as endocrine disruptors, including allethrin, permethrin, bioallethrin, chlorpyrifos and malathion. “New studies show adverse effects at very low levels of exposure,” he said. Endocrine disrupting chemicals have been linked to health problems ranging from acute childhood leukaemia and other cancers to neurobehavioural effects, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as effects on the reproductive and immune systems.

Organophosphates, such as chlorpyrifos and malathion used in domestic pest control products, adversely impact children’s neurological and behavioural development. They are more toxic than pyrethrins, pyrethroids and carbamates. Because of their low toxicity to humans and other mammals, synthetic pyrethroids such as allethrin and permethrin have long been hailed as safer alternatives to organophosphate pesticides. Carbamate pesticide Fenoxycarb is commonly found in ant and roach killers.

Source: Choice Health Reader

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