Study Links Brain Abnormalities to Dow Chemical Pesticide

Wednesday, May 02, 2012
A pesticide used on farms and golf courses has been linked to brain abnormalities in babies, according to a group of researchers.
The chemical chlorpyrifos, found in Dow Chemical’s pesticide Dursban, can impact the development of the cortex, which helps govern intelligence, personality, muscle movement and other brain functions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned chlorpyrifos for residential use 11 years ago. But it still allows farmers and golf course owners to employ the pesticide.
For the study, the  researchers examined umbilical cord blood samples from babies born before the banning of chlorpyrifos and then, years later, took MRIs of 20 children with high prenatal exposure and 20 with low prenatal exposure.
The lead author of the study, Virginia Rauh, professor and deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, said women can be exposed to moderate levels of chlorpyrifos in agricultural settings and through food residue.
“Prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos is risky for pregnant women and should be avoided,” Rauh wrote in an email. “Mother breathes or ingests the chlorpyrifos, which then enters her blood stream. The chemical crosses the placenta and enters the infants’ blood stream.” Rauh advises pregnant women to avoid working on farms, to wash produce before eating it and, if possible, to buy organic produce.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Prenatal Pesticide Exposure May Harm Kids' Brains (by Kathleen Doheny, WebMD Health News)
Pesticide Exposure in Utero Linked to Brain Concerns (by Nicole Ostrow, Bloomberg News)
Brain Anomalies in Children Exposed Prenatally To a Common Organophosphate Pesticide (by Virginia A. Rauha, Frederica P. Pererab, Megan K. Horton, Robin M. Whyatt, Ravi Bansal, Xuejun Hao, Jun Liu, Dana Boyd Barr, Theodore A. Slotkin, and Bradley S. Peterson, PNAS) (abstract only)

Corn Cartel Battles other Farmers over Dow Herbicide (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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