Exposure to the common crop pesticide chlorpyrifos during pregnancy may harm your baby's brain because it may be linked with abnormal changes in a child's developing brain, according to a new research report.
Scientists at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University reported that those with high exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos had abnormalities in the cortex (the outer area of the brain which helps govern intelligence, personality, muscle movement, and other tasks). In other studies, higher exposure to the pesticide is linked with lower IQs and a decline in working memory in children.
The U.S. EPA has banned the residential use of chlorpyrifos in 2001 but still allows its use on crops and can still be sprayed in public places such as golf courses.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate that works by blocking an enzyme needed by pests (and people!) for proper nerve functioning.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), symptoms of poisoning from chlorpyrifos include nausea, dizziness, confusion, and sometimes loss of respiratory muscle control and death. Currently, the EPA is reviewing the role of chlorpyrifos in agriculture, since the NRDC petitioned in 2007 to cancel all agricultural registrations for this pesticide.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' Early Edition, the research findings raise an alarm for concern and once again reminds us, especially pregnant women to wash fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) thoroughly before eating or cooking them.