Pesticides and Childhood Leukemia — Another Cautionary Finding
For years society has struggled with the debate over the safety of low level exposures to pesticides in and around the home. While skeptics may still say that the definitive evidence is not available yet, the evidence is mounting that these types of exposures are not safe. The latest study comes from Georgetown University (Ther Drug Monit. 2009 Aug;31(4):495-50), where researchers have compared children with and without newly diagnosed childhood leukemia (ALL) and their mothers.
The findings are that the urine analyses of the children with leukemia showed higher levels of the biochemical by-products of pesticides than did those of healthy children. More mothers of the children with ALL reported having used pesticides in the home than did mothers of the healthy children (33% versus 14%).
As with other studies suggesting toxic effects of low level pesticide and herbicide exposures in and around the home for children, pets, and adults, the research points to the wisdom of using non-toxic ways to control pests. We all have to weigh and balance the risks of the pests versus the health risks of the chemicals — it seems reasonable to come down on the side of caution against using man-made chemical pesticides when better hygiene, physical barriers to pest entry into the home, and natural means of controlling insect and rodent populations are available.