There are now several studies that are finding a correlation between pesticide exposure in children and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD. There are almost 40 organophosphate pesticides registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, and most of our exposure to these pesticides comes through our food and water. These harmful chemicals are abundant according to the 2008 U.S. Pesticide Residue Program Report. The report found detectable concentrations of these organophosphates in many of our fruits and vegetables.
One of the most recent studies published in the Journal of Pediatrics in June 2010, looked at data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, NHANES, for 1139 children. Of these children, 119 of them met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD and had the highest urinary output of the breakdown products of the organophosphate pesticides. The study concluded that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among US children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence.
Unfortunately most of us cannot afford to feed our family a 100% organic diet, which is alright; you can still have a huge impact on your child’s health by avoiding the foods that retain the highest amount of pesticide residues and washing all produce before eating it. Eating a predominantly organic diet and washing our fruits and veggies will greatly reduce the amount of pesticides your children are exposed to. The Environmental Working Group have put together a list of the top twelve fruits and veggies that have the highest levels of pesticide residue. Apples, celery, berries, and bell peppers are just a few that retain a large amount pesticides. There is a complete list of fruits and vegetables available at Environmental Working Group’s website, www.ewg.org. I like to wash my fruits and veggies with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar. Check out our blog on healthy eating for additional tips for removing pesticide residue. You can also pick up a fruit and veggie wash available at most grocery stores. Dairy products also retain high levels of pesticides and other harmful chemicals found in the environment, so it is also important to purchase organic milk, butter and yogurt when possible.