Chlorpyrifos Pesticide linked to Autism, ADHD, Lower IQ

Several studies have linked pesticides to child development problems. Those near farms face the greatest risk.

(June 17, 2019) Young children exposed to pesticides containing chlorpyrifos can suffer lifelong problems that include autism, ADHD, Parkinson’s-like tremors, and lower IQ. Many injured by chlorpyrifos were exposed to the chemical while in the womb of their pregnant mothers. Prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos has been linked to anomalies in the brain’s surface.

What is Chlorpyrifos?

Chlorpyrifos — patented by Dow Chemical in the 1960s — belongs to a nasty family of toxic pesticides called organophosphates. These pesticides work as neurotoxins to kill insects. In bigger doses, they’re also neurotoxic to human beings.

People once used chlorpyrifos to control insects at home, though the EPA has banned residential use.

Besides homes, chlorpyrifos was widely used as a multipurpose insecticide for many agricultural and residential applications – from flea control for pets to mite protection for crops.  Trade names include Lorsban, Lock-On, Cobalt. Chlorpyrifos was also marketed and sold for home and industrial uses under the brand name Dursban.

Farm workers and others who often handle or inhale chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates are at the “highest risk of exposure,” the NIH says. When it’s sprayed in homes and gardens, residents are also at a “higher risk of exposure,” says the NIH.

The EPA banned chlorpyrifos for residential uses in 2000, except where it might be “safely” contained in ant and roach bait products.

How does Chlorpyrifos work?

Chlorpyrifos lethally disrupts the nervous system of its targets. Dow developed it to rid homes and gardens of cockroaches, ants, mites, and other undesirables. The problem is that human beings can also be vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects in small, continuous doses.

Chlorpyrifos Pesticide linked to Autism, ADHD, Lower IQ

Chlorpyrifos exposure occurs in many ways. Families living near farms that spray chlorpyrifos on their fields are acutely affected. Runoff from agricultural uses can put the chemical in drinking water. If you think you are safe from chlorpyrifos, don’t buy any fruits and vegetables; its residue can remain on fruits and vegetables in your local grocery store.

Over the past several years, many studies have shown prolonged exposure to chlorpyrifos hurts neurodevelopment in fetuses and young children. It leads to a heightened risk for autism and ADHD. A recent EPA report detailed the risks of exposing infants and pregnant women to chlorpyrifos. It demonstrated a potential link to intelligence deficits; the development of autism; problems with attention, memory, and motor skills.

Dow disputes Scientific Findings

Dow disputes virtually any and all findings which point to chlorpyrifos dangers. A company website claims: “The weight of the evidence of years – in some cases, decades – of scientific study continues to demonstrate that there is no link between chlorpyrifos and any of these health concerns.” Dow, like another poison giant – Monsanto — has been funding its own scientific research to fight the growing consensus about chlorpyrifos.

Dow is preparing for a long legal battle to keep chlorpyrifos on the market, and, by turn, in our air, food, and water.

California Chlorpyrifos

It’s no surprise that the country’s largest food producer sees more chlorpyrifos dumped on it than any other state.  RevealNews.org reports that chlorpyrifos is used most heavily in the California counties of Fresno, Tulare and Kern.

A recent University of California, Davis study found that pregnant women living near fields treated with the pesticide chlorpyrifos were three times (3x) more likely to have a child with autism. Early childhood exposure has been linked to developmental delays.

California counties with highest chlorpyrifos use, including agricultural and nonagricultural uses such as landscaping, mosquito control and, before 2001, residential fumigation:

County Pounds of chlorpyrifos used, 1991-2012 Percentage change, 1991-2012
     
Fresno 7.2 million 78%
Tulare 6.1 million -21%
Kern 5.4 million 70%
Kings 3.2 million 97%
Stanislaus 2 million -66%
Imperial 1.8 million -50%
San Joaquin 1.7 million -59%
Merced 1.5 million -51%
Monterey 1.4 million -68%
Los Angeles 1.4 million -99%

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