Pesticides on apples endanger US children

June 23, 1999


Pesticides on apples endanger US children

Ten years after the US public demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ban the cancer-causing pesticide Alar, children are no better protected from pesticides in the nation's food supply, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The group's recent analyses of government pesticide records show that multiple pesticides known or suspected to cause brain and nervous system damage, cancer, disruption of the endocrine and immune systems and a host of other toxic effects are commonly found in foods children regularly consume.

Major findings of EWG's February 1999 report How 'Bout Them Apples? include:

  • Twenty million children ages five and under eat an average of eight pesticides a day, every day — a total of more than 2900 pesticide exposures per child per year from food alone.

  • Every day, 610,000 children aged one through five eat a dose of neurotoxic organophosphate insecticides the US government deems unsafe.

  • More than 320,000 of these unsafe exposures are from one pesticide, methyl parathion.

  • Pesticide concentrations increased from 1992 through 1996 on seven of eight foods heavily consumed by children.

The EWG called on EPA administrator Carol Browner to immediately halt use of methyl parathion because of the short-term risks it poses to small children. The group said an emergency cancellation of the pesticide is needed because hundreds of thousands of preschoolers are exceeding government-established safety limits for the pesticide every day, primarily by consumption of apples and peaches.

The EWG points out that although the chemical industry has tried to rewrite the history of Alar as an unfounded food "scare", numerous studies confirming that it causes cancer show that the public was right to demand its removal from the food supply.

[From Pesticide Action Network Updates Service.]

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