Children are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to pesticides. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Prenatal and early childhood exposure to pesticides is associated with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems.”
Children breathe more, eat more, drink more, and absorb more per pound of body weight than adults do. Kids play and breathe right down near the grass and the dirt and the carpet, where pesticides can linger for weeks and even months after they’re applied. Small fingers often make their way into mouths. And children’s immune systems, nervous systems, and hormonal systems are still developing.
Pesticides can interfere with exactly what you’re tying to achieve with the children in your care:
- You want to keep the children safe, and you want them to be healthy and fit. So you monitor who comes into your facility. And you encourage habits like hand washing and being active. But pesticides are associated with serious illnesses in children, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, brain tumors, and leukemia.
- You encourage children to focus, to learn, and to behave. But evidence suggests that many pesticides are toxic to the nervous system, including the developing brain. They can interfere with learning and behavior.
- With older kids, you encourage responsibility around reproduction. But pesticides are associated with reproductive problems—from low sperm counts to miscarriage to birth defects.
Consider going organic at your school or day-care center. It could help your children (and their own children) grow up healthy, smart, and responsible.