Expert Opinions

When the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions the public about the risks of pesticides, it’s time to listen. And they’re not the only expert group to issue warnings in recent years. Here, we include a few notable statements.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
The AAP released a policy statement, “Pesticide Exposure in Children,” in December 2012. According to the AAP’s press release:

A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlines the harmful effects of pesticides on children and makes recommendations on how to reduce exposure. … Prenatal and early childhood exposure to pesticides is associated with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicin (ASRM)
These two physicians groups issued a joint statement, “Environmental Chemicals Harm Reproductive Health,” in September 2013. According to the statement:

The scientific evidence over the last 15 years shows that exposure to toxic environmental agents before conception and during pregnancy can have significant and long-lasting effects on reproductive health. “For example, pesticide exposure in men is associated with poor semen quality, sterility, and prostate cancer,” said Linda C. Giudice, MD, PhD, president of ASRM. “We also know that exposure to pesticides may interfere with puberty, menstruation and ovulation, fertility, and menopause in women.”

The Ontario College of Family Physicians
The Ontario College of Family Physicians performed a pesticide literature review in 2004, with a follow-up in 2012. According to the press release for the 2004 Pesticides Literature Review:

The Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) is strongly recommending that people reduce their exposure to pesticides wherever possible after releasing a comprehensive review of research on the effects of pesticides on human health. … The review shows consistent links to serious illnesses such as cancer, reproductive problems and neurological diseases, among others. The study also shows that children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides.

The 2012 update looked at reproductive health, neurodevelopmental behavioral health in children, and respiratory health in children and adults. According to the executive summary for the 2012 Systematic Review of Pesticide Health Effects:

The results of this study would indicate that there are benefits to reducing exposure of pregnant women to commonly used pesticides. … The studies in this systematic review show that prenatal pesticide exposure is consistently associated with measurable deficits in child neurodevelopment across a wide age range from birth to adolescence. … Overall, there is evidence that exposure to pesticides, and to organophosphate or carbamate insecticides in particular, is associated with the development of respiratory symptoms and a spectrum of obstructive and restrictive lung diseases.

Links to both reports and related documents can be found here.

President’s Cancer Panel
The President’s Cancer Panel, in its 2008–2009 annual report, “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk,” addressed the issues of pesticides:

Nearly 1,400 pesticides have been registered (i.e., approved) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for agricultural and non-agricultural use. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to brain/central nervous system (CNS), breast, colon, lung, ovarian (female spouses), pancreatic, kidney, testicular, and stomach cancers, as well as Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and soft tissue sarcoma. (page 45)

Mt. Sinai Hospital Children’s Environmental Health Center
In a fact sheet on its website (available here), the Mt. Sinai Hospital Children’s Environmental Health Center states:

Because the chemistry of pesticides is highly diverse, they are capable of causing a wide range of adverse health effects. … Pesticides have been shown to cause a wide range of adverse effects on human health including acute and chronic injury to the nervous system, lung damage, injury to the reproductive organs, dysfunction of the immune and endocrine systems, birth defects, and cancer; these effects can manifest as acutely toxic effects, delayed effects, or chronic effects. It has been shown that children bear a significantly heavier body burden of many environmental chemicals than adults, and this statistic holds true for pesticides.