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Organics Are Good for Kids
by Wendy Priesnitz

A University of Washington study that analyzed pesticide breakdown products (metabolites) in pre-school aged children has found that children eating organic fruits and vegetables had concentrations of pesticide metabolites six times lower than children eating conventional produce. 

The study, published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, compared metabolite concentrations of organo-phosphorus (OP) pesticides in the urine of 39 urban and suburban children aged two to four years. The authors focused on children’s dietary pesticide exposure because children are at greater risk for two reasons: They eat more food relative to body mass and they eat foods higher in pesticide residues – such as juices, fresh fruits and vegetables.

An earlier study cited by the authors looked at pesticide metabolites in the urine of 96 urban and suburban children and found OP pesticides in the urine of all children but one. The parents of the child with no pesticide metabolites reported buying exclusively organic produce. 

Researchers recruited children for the study outside of conventional and organic grocery stores in the Seattle metropolitan region and asked parents to record all food consumed in a three-day period prior to collecting their child’s urine over the next 24 hours.

Based on the food diaries, the study assigned the children into groups consuming at least 75 percent organic or at least 75 percent conventional fruits and vegetables. Parents were also asked about household pesticide use in their homes and on gardens, lawns and pets. Although the authors found that parents of children eating conventional diets were more likely to report some home pesticide use, they did not find significant differences in concentrations of pesticide metabolites based on this use.

Because many of the OP pesticides break down into identical metabolites, the study did not provide information on the specific pesticides children were exposed to. However, the study did determine that some children were at risk for consuming more OP pesticides than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers “safe” as a daily dose.


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