Keep that bug spray away from me!

CC Image from Wikimedia

CC Image from Wikimedia

By: Sheena P.

A new study conducted in Quebec suggests that household insecticides may be associated with behavior problems in children. This study investigates the health effects of pyrethroids. Pyrethroids are used in more than three thousand five hundred commercial products. Pyrethroids kill insects by messing with their nervous systems. In the study seven hundred and seventy nine Canadian children were tested and about ninety seven percent of the children had pyrethroid breakdown products in their urine and ninety one had traces of another class of pesticides, organophosphates. Ironically, organophosphate pesticides were taken out of the market due to concerns with children’s health, and replaced with pyrethroids. Due to the lack of knowledge, pyrethroid related insecticides continue to stay in the market. One study with three hundred mothers and children in New York City discovered that there was less development in toddlers who had been exposed to pyrethroids in the womb. The study doesn’t definitely prove that pyrethroids cause behavior problems, but scientists will conduct more research to find out if there is a link between pyrethroids and behavior problems in children. (Read more…)

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2 thoughts on “Keep that bug spray away from me!

  1. Pesticides, while controversial and often bad for the environment, are one of modern society’s many tradeoffs. Pesticides have certainly played an important role in increasing crop yields, and in increasing the quality of people’s diets. More money and land would have to be used cultivating less-efficient crops, and food prices likely would be increased in order to cover the new costs incurred, which would probably result in decreased economic growth. It could possibly even end up decreasing the variety and quality of many people’s diets, especially the poor, who are least able to absorb rising costs.
    Genetically modified plants have been touted as the silver bullet alternative to pesticides. Certainly, genetic engineering has been used with great success in agriculture. However this form of biological warfare has the same problem of any other purely biological strategy, namely, resistance by natural selection,. As the plants are artificially evolved, the insects that feed off of them would evolve as well. While the first generation of exposed insects could be devastated, generation two would be much less vulnerable, and considering how quickly insects reproduce, the most expensive, insect- resistant plant ever produced could be obsolete in less than a year. Eventually, more money and effort would have to be spent making a new, invulnerable, and likely quite expensive strain of plant. For example, when deadly chlorine gas was first used in World War I, even the most-well-protected troops could be driven from their positions in minutes. But, like any living organism, the Allied soldier adapted to be less vulnerable. Far from being a war-winning weapon, gas became a feared, but marginally effective experiment that was not what it turned out to be.

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