For the Kids

If you're still looking for a reason not to use chemical pesticide on your lawn and garden, try this:

Ninety-nine percent of the four-year-olds in a recent study had at least one compound in their systems traceable to organophosphorous pesticides. That's the group that includes diazinon and chlorpyrifos, two of the most common household lawn and garden pesticides. Three quarters of the kids had two of the compounds in them.

University of Washington researchers tested the urine of 96 toddlers from two communities; one in a highly urban, low-to-middle income setting south of Seattle where apartment buildings are common, the other in a suburban area north of Seattle, with upper-middle income families living mostly in single-family detached homes. Of the 96 children, only one showed no measurable trace of the pesticide compounds (that was the tot whose parents reported using no pesticides at home and buying only organic produce.) The results were similar in the two communities. No matter where you live, the kids are exposed.

The same studies showed high levels of the highly toxic compounds known as dialkylphosphates, or DAP's, even where families had not applied pesticides for months. These pesticide residues can be tracked easily into the house, settle in the carpet and hang around for a long time.

The UW researchers are still studying the long-term health effects of exposing children to these chemicals.

It isn't just for the birds that organizations like Audubon discourage the use of pesticides in favor of benign methods of pest control.

Good news for people and birds: The EPA recently decided to phase out retail sales of both diazinon and chlorpyrifos (e.g. Dursban). Gardeners should immediately dispose of any leftover supplies and containers at a King County hazardous waste disposal facility.

See www.metrokc.gov/hazwaste for details.

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