Although it might not come as a big surprise to those who believe that natural methods are the only safe way to deal with pests, it’s certainly worth noting that a link has been found between indoor pesticide use and the risk of children developing certain types of cancer.
A recent report published online and in the October issue of Pediatrics found that children who are exposed to chemical pesticides have a “slightly increased” risk of developing two types of blood cancer: leukemia and lymphoma.
The findings, which were based on an analysis of 16 different studies conducted between 1993 and 2013, suggest a link between pesticides and childhood cancers as well as an elevated risk of childhood leukemia associated with exposure to weed killers.
No direct proof, but experts recommend limiting exposure
The researchers say that the findings do not actually prove that there is a direct link between pesticides and these types of childhood blood cancers, but they recommend limiting exposure to them to be safe.
The general belief is that childhood cancers, unlike those that develop in adults, are not linked to “lifestyle choices and environmental exposures,” but rather “just happen,” according to pediatric oncologist Dr. Ziad Khatib, who was quoted by Newsmax.com in reference to the findings.
However, Khatib also said:
We should always be cautious about exposing young children to any toxic chemicals. It just makes sense.
The findings raise questions about how and when the cancers develop. Senior researcher Chensheng (Alex) Lu of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, who led the study, said:
We don’t know ‘how much’ exposure it takes, or if there’s a critical window in development. Is the window during pregnancy? Or even before pregnancy? That will take a much deeper investigation.
Common sense should prevail when it comes to any type of exposure to toxic chemicals
The study concluded that children exposed to any type of indoor chemical insect killers were nearly 50 percent more likely to develop leukemia or lymphoma.
Although Lu was quick to point out that these statistics mean only a very small number of children will develop these cancers – only 1.5 children out of 10,000 who are exposed, compared to one out of 10,000 who are not – it doesn’t take an enormous amount of common sense to conclude that these chemicals should not be used at all, especially around children.
Other health risks associated with chemical pesticides
Cancer isn’t the only health risk; chemical pesticides are known to cause a variety of problems in humans. A fact sheet published by The Lung Association reports that pesticides are associated with a range of minor to severe, short- and long-term negative health effects.
These include milder symptoms such as headaches and shortness of breath; serious reactions such as vomiting and a loss of consciousness; long-term negative effects on the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems; and cancers such as leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and soft tissue sarcoma.
In other words, this stuff is really bad for you and your children.
Natural alternatives to chemical pesticides
There are a number of natural substances that are effective in killing or repelling household pests. Diatomaceous earth, garlic, citrus, bay leaves, tannic acid and cayenne pepper are just a few examples. Eartheasy.com is a good resource for learning more about controlling household pests without using chemical pesticides.
Even the rather conservative Lung Association recognizes the fact that it “stands to reason that if pesticides can kill pests, then pesticides may also harm us.” Don’t use chemical pesticides in your home if you want your children to remain healthy and free of disease.