Organophosphate exposures during pregnancy and child neurodevelopment: Recommendations for essential policy reforms

This has special importance to me because I I was trained in chemical warfare (all nerve agents are organo-phosphate poisons) and developed a sensitivity to Malathion while I was in Vietnam…

Summary points

  • Widespread use of organophosphate (OP) pesticides to control insects has resulted in ubiquitous human exposures.
  • High exposures to OP pesticides are responsible for poisonings and deaths, particularly in developing countries.
  • Compelling evidence indicates that prenatal exposure at low levels is putting children at risk for cognitive and behavioral deficits and for neurodevelopmental disorders.

To protect children worldwide, we recommend the following:

  • Governments phase out chlorpyrifos and other OP pesticides, monitor watersheds and other sources of human exposures, promote the use of integrated pest management (IPM) through incentives and training in agroecology and implement mandatory surveillance of pesticide-related illness.
  • Health professions implement curricula on the hazards of OP pesticides in nursing and medical schools and in continuing medical education courses and educate their patients and the public about these hazards.
  • Agricultural entities accelerate the development of nontoxic approaches to pest control through IPM and ensure the safety of workers through training and provision of protective equipment when toxic chemicals are to be used.

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