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Danger of chronic, low-dose pesticide exposure

 

Narrator:       This is Science Today. A class of pesticides called organophosphates has been phased out of home use, but they are still widely used in agriculture. Now, new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that low-dose exposure to these agricultural pesticides can lead to significant developmental problems in young children.

Harley:           The Food Quality Protection Act said that pesticides used in food had to be safe for the most vulnerable members of society, which are pregnant women and young children. But we're seeing that moms with higher levels of pesticides in their urine have children with lower IQs.

Narrator:        Researcher Kim Harley has been tracking the development of more than 300 children born in an agricultural community in California. She explains that prenatal pesticide exposure led to a 7-point drop in IQ among the children.

Harley:           This research is adding to the body of literature of what we know about children's chronic low-dose exposure to organophosphate pesticides. It's just one of several studies that are now building up and showing very similar evidence. So that does have implications to people that are making policy decisions.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.