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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Potential Toxic Tort: Pesticide in Children Linked to ADHD Diagnosis

Exposure to high levels of certain pesticides has long been known to result in neurologic damage to children in rural and farming communities, and has been the subject of numerous toxic tort lawsuits. However, yesterday researchers released a study showing the problem is likely much larger than previously suspected. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal and elsewhere, analyzed levels of pesticide exposure for nearly 1200 children who participated in a National Health and Nutrition Survey between 2000 and 2004, which included 119 who were diagnosed with ADHD.

Researchers found that there was a significant correlation between pesticide exposure and ADHD diagnosis. The researchers were working with urine samples and identified metabolites related to pesticide exposure. Children who had 10 times the normal amount of metabolites from the common pesticide malathion were 55 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, but some pesticides had much more significant effects at lower levels. The most common metabolite, dimethyl thiophosphate, was associated with the most significant effect. Children with higher-than-average levels of the metabolite were nearly twice as likely (93% greater odds) of being diagnosed with ADHD than children with undetectable levels of the chemical.

Because these metabolites are eliminated from the body fairly quickly (generally less than six days), researchers hypothesized that these metabolites were a sign of relatively constant exposure to pesticides. Parents who wish to reduce their children's exposure to pesticides should:

  • Always wash fruits and vegetables before eating
  • Buy organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible
  • Select fruits that you peel or that have a hard exterior that resists penetration of pesticides and can be thoroughly washed (like apples)
  • Be aware that fruits with soft peels (such as strawberries, raspberries, and peaches) tend to have higher levels of pesticides
  • Reduce use of pesticides and other chemicals in the household

According to a US department of agriculture study, the type of pesticide being studied here, known as organophosphates, was found in:

  • 28 percent of frozen blueberries
  • 20 percent of celery
  • 25 percent of strawberries
  • 27 percent of green beans
  • 17 percent of peaches
  • 8 percent of broccoli

CropLife America, an industry group representing pesticide manufacturers, issued a response, saying "our review [of the article] leads us to believe much more research is needed to ascertain if there is a direct link between exposure to organophosphate pesticides and the development of ADHD in children."

Although this link between ADHD and low-level exposure to pesticides is still being studied, there are many ways in which pesticide has been shown to hurt children and others. If you suspect that pesticide has poisoned or otherwise adversely affected your community, the toxic tort lawyers of The Cochran Firm stand ready to help you fight those who have poisoned you. Please contact us today for a free initial case evaluation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:41 AM

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