Saturday, March 8, 2008

As more and more people suffer from neurological problems, allergies, diseases, and syndromes, it is time to look at the environment in which we live. The following article appeared at the end of January 2008. As with all newspaper articles, it was a one-edition wonder. I am quoting some of it here with appropriate links, and links to the original study, at the bottom of this, to educate us all.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 30, 2008

Harmful pesticides found in everyday food products
Mercer Island children tested in yearlong study

Government promises to rid the nation's food supply of brain-damaging pesticides aren't doing the job, according to the results of a yearlong study that carefully monitored the diets of a group of local children.
The peer-reviewed study found that the urine and saliva of children eating a variety of conventional foods from area groceries contained biological markers of organophosphates, the family of pesticides spawned by the creation of nerve gas agents in World War II.
When the same children ate organic fruits, vegetables and juices, signs of pesticides were not found.

"The transformation is extremely rapid," said Chensheng Lu, the principal author of the study published online in the current issue [15 January 2008] of Environmental Health Perspectives.

"Once you switch from conventional food to organic, the pesticides (malathion and chlorpyrifos) that we can measure in the urine disappears. The level returns immediately when you go back to the conventional diets," said Lu, a professor at Emory University's School of Public Health and a leading authority on pesticides and children.

Within eight to 36 hours of the children switching to organic food, the pesticides were no longer detected in the testing.

The subjects for his testing were 21 children, ages 3 to 11, from two elementary schools and a Montessori preschool on Mercer Island.

With good scientific caution, Chensheng Lu, went on to discuss the limitations of current research, noting, however, that:

"In animal and a few human studies, we know chlorpyrifos inhibits an enzyme that transmits a signal in the brain so the body can function properly. Unfortunately, that's all we know."
The article continues, discussing Chlorpyrifos:
Dangerous science
Chlorpyrifos, made by Dow Chemical Co., is one of the most widely used organophosphate insecticides in the United States and, many believe, the world.

For years, millions of pounds of the chemical insecticide were used in schools, homes, day care centers and public housing, and studies show that children were often exposed to enormously high doses. Just as the EPA was ready to ban the product, which analysts said would have damaged Dow's overseas sales, the company "voluntarily" removed it from the home market. Yet, with few exceptions, the agricultural uses continued.

The EPA's Web site is a study in contradictions when it comes to chlorpyrifos.
To be fair to the EPA, the website actually reflects attitudes towards these chemicals over time. It is, however confusing, because you need to read the dates of the various documents. If you search on the word chlorpyrifos, nearly a half million articles or references will be identified. This chemical has been in use since, at least 1988, and likely earlier.

To read more about this, go to the article at

P-I senior correspondent Andrew Schneider can be reached at 206-448-8218 or

The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives The study was published in the 15 January 2008 issue. You can download a PDF copy of the study from EHP at

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