A new study has found that switching children to a strict organic diet will lower the exposure to organophosphorus, found in pesticides, to a nearly non-detectable amount.
The use of organophosphate pesticides is regulated but remains legal across the United States. The continued use means we are consistently exposed to a chemical that causes considerable health issues. The new research was undertaken to see whether the day to day exposure we each have to pesticides is largely through our food or the air we breathe. The results were conclusive.
In a study on 23 children based at the same school, each child ate a strict organic diet for five days on two separate occasions – once in the summer and once in the fall. On both occasions, the levels of organophosphorus were either completely undetectable or nearly undetectable. The study proved that eating food that had been exposed to these pesticides was a significant health risk, particularly for children.
So what are the dangers?
Organophosphorus based pesticides have been considered toxic to humans for many years which has resulted in strict regulation of their usage. However, they are still permitted for use in most countries and the devastating effect of their unregulated usage was felt in India back in 2013 when at least 25 children died as a result of high-level chemical ingestion from eating contaminated rice.
The deaths were caused by the ingestion of the organophosphorus that inhibits the production of a hormone in the human body called cholinesterase. This enzyme is crucial in the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which carries signals to your muscles and nerves. Without this breakdown, the acetylcholine builds up in the nerves and prevents breathing. Victims of organophosphorus poisoning typically suffocate to death.
The likelihood of immediate fatality are, however, close to zero in countries with regulations but low-level exposure can cause long-term damage, particularly in children. A study in 2010 found that children who had had regular exposure to the pesticides had an increased risk of neurological disease and disorders.
The head of this study Boyd Barr, also argues with the approved usage rates. He claims that the science shows that children exposed are, at the very least, at risk of lower mental faculties and a reduced intellectual capacity. “This chronic low-level exposure that we all might be exposed to could functionally decrease the neurological capacity of children.”
How to Lower Your Own Risk
The good news is that the findings of the recent study released in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives unequivocally prove that switching to an organic, pesticide free diet lowers your exposure to a healthy level.
To ensure that you aren’t harming yourself take the time to read labels and ensure that what you’re eating is truly free of pesticides. Additionally, you can look to grow your own fruit and vegetables when possible to give yourself complete control of your diet.
There are calls from environmentalists and physicians to put in place a blanket ban on organophosphate pesticides to eradicate any threat of exposure. The danger of pesticides is that they become part of the air we breathe and when they run off into water streams they end up in the water we drink.
A strictly organic diet will enable you to take control to prevent unnecessary ingestion of pesticides. However, a complete removal of organophosphate pesticides is the only way to put an end to the health risks that they pose to each and every one of us.