Friday, January 04, 2008

YOU are probably contaminated with toxic pesticides

Bad news from Spain, every person in a new pesticide study was contaminated with toxic pesticides. That's 387 people, every one of them with toxic chemicals in their bodies.

Who cares? You should, because if it's happening to them it's probably happening to us. A quick search for information from where I live was not very reassuring, people in Washington are likely to be contaminated too. Here's more if you want to look at information relevant for you.

And if you think you don't mind a little spicy pesticide cocktail, consider this study showing pesticides increased the risk of getting Parkinson's disease. And this report by epidemiologists that concludes:

"current exposures are associated with risks to human health"
Wanna do something about it? Go visit with the good people from PAN, the Pesticide Action Network.


Anonymous said...

Based on the information provided in the link, the University of Grenada study is unnecessarily inflammatory and without merit for one huge reason: it doesn't provide the measured concentrations of the 6 POCs. You cannot assess risk without knowing amount.

I can put out a presser stating there is cancer-causing uranium in Pennsylvania ground water and be completely accurate and totally irrelevant. What I fail to mention is the concentration of the uranium is at the part per quadrillion level (femtograms/mL) and has no human toxicity at such low levels.

Remember, you cannot say anything about risk without knowing the amount. Consuming 1000 micrograms/kg of Vitamin A each day will keep you alive, but taking less than 10 or more than 10,000 can kill you. It's all about amount.

And where is the journal reference in the press release? Was this peer-reviewed? Kinda doubt it.

Mark Powell said...

Pesticide risks are hotly debated, and I'll wager that existing contamination levels do cause health problems for some people.

Yes, more information is necessary to conclude anything about contamination risks in the study cited. But that doesn't mean it's without merit. It provides information to people about involuntary contamination and may motivate people to ask questions about whether they WANT to be contaminated with toxic chemicals.

What do you think, anonymous, do you think pesticide contamination is a wide spread health problem? Or, do you think it's nothing to worry about (outside of specific acute exposure events)?

Anonymous said...


I think the risk to public health from pesticide exposure is negligible (excepting acute exposures and also assuming the pesticides in question were used according to all label and government regulations).

And I still think the Grenada U study is worthless without concentration data from the authors.

I could write paragraphs to support my position, but instead I suggest you read this article from National Geographic's July 2007 issue. It discusses the devastating effects of malaria and how DDT may have eradicated it if DDT wasn't banned. From page 4 of the article: "The ban on DDT," says Gwadz of the National Institutes of Health, "may have killed 20 million children."

20 million dead kids trump a nation of otherwise-healthy Spaniards who have a whiff of a DDT metabolite in their adipose tissue.

Pesticide use is a complicated issue with many angles, but I don't think anyone is well-served by an alarmist press release based on specious data.

Mark Powell said...

I think you're all wet, anonymous. You cite a magazine article that says DDT is "nontoxic to humans." That's an article with serious crediblity gaps.
The idea that DDT bans somehow killed people has been debunked, partly because DDT is not banned in most places where malaria is common. See for just one example. And, regarding low level pesticide health risks, check out this study on "background" levels of DDT reducing cognitive function in preschoolers:
The end of this story has not yet been written, but I predict pesticide exposure will be discovered in the future to cause more harm than we can currently detect. I'm not satisfied with your accounting of known risks, especially since nobody knows how to account for the combined effects of pesticides with each other and with other toxic contaminants in our bodies.

Mark Powell said...

Blogfish is getting grouchy. Here's more on the DDT/malaria issue, including a debunking of the malaria/DDT article that anonymous cited from National Geographic (which happens to have been written by a journalist who has admitted fabricating parts of his past work).
Health effects of DDT on people:
Now back to real blogfish business, hoping this is put to rest.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion pesticide use has to be balanced with potential benefits. If the benefits are purely cosmetic then we should think twice about using them.