Children encounter pesticides every day and are uniquely vulnerable to their toxicity, says a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Here's how to reduce your family's exposure now.
As a mom of two young kids, I was thrilled this week to see that the mainstream American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come out with a policy statement to raise awareness about the harmful effects pesticides have on young children.
“Pediatricians should ask parents about pesticide use around the home and yard, offer guidance about safe storage, and recommend parents choose lowest-harm approaches when considering pest control,” the report states. It also urges pediatricians to work with schools and government agencies to advocate for the least toxic methods of pest control—and to inform communities when pesticides are being used in the area.
Each spring, I am blown away when I walk into Home Depot and am greeted by prominent displays of economy-sized spray-containers of Roundup, Monsanto’s ubiquitous glyphosphate, exposure to which has been linked in some studies to ADHD, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, miscarriages, and hormone changes. (I’m equally blown away when I see neighbors spraying it on their own yards!)
Somehow, our society still has a blind spot about using pesticides, which is defined as any substance used to kill a pest. If it kills pests, it can’t be good for us—much less our developing young children. Are dandelions and flies such an impediment to our wellbeing that we are willing to risk poisoning our families, not to mention contaminating our water supply?
Here’s the good news: There are many effective, nontoxic fixes to pest problems—and most of them are a lot less expensive than their chemical counterparts! As parents (and pediatricians) better understand the serious downsides of pesticide use inside their home, in their yards, and in their local communities, I hope they will be motivated to learn about and use these alternatives.
First, know thy enemies, i.e., common household products considered pesticides
Cockroach sprays and baits
Flea and tick sprays, powders and pet collars
Kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfectants and sanitizers
Products that kill mold and mildew
Lawn and garden weed killers
Some swimming pool and hot tub chemicals
Instead of going straight to the most toxic chemicals to immediately kill household pests, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recommends first analyzing the source of the infestation. “Eliminate all possible indoor and outdoor food sources and habitats, and keep indoors dry, clean and well ventilated. If this does not solve the problem, use chemicals only in minimal, recommended amounts that are mixed or diluted outdoors and applied in well-ventilated areas. Also be sure to dispose of unneeded pesticides safely.”
Find tips for nontoxic insect pest control at home here.
Have you used some of these products at home? What are your best nontoxic solutions? Please share in comments below.