Pesticides are powerful tools for controlling pests. However, pesticides are also toxic and can severely harm children’s health if stored or used improperly. 50 percent of poisoning incidents each year are for children younger than six years old, and 90% of these incidents occur in the home. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that they had more than 70,000 calls with concerns about potential exposure to common household pesticides. The reason children are more vulnerable to pesticide poisoning is the key differences in physiology and behavior.
How does pesticide poisoning harm children?
Because children’s brain and nervous systems are at early critical stages of development, pesticide poisoning may be more harmful to children than adults. Their bodies have fewer natural defenses and serious health effects may be developed if they are exposed to pesticides.
There are two types of health effects of pesticide exposure. Acute exposure is an intense exposure over a short period of time. For example, a child is exposed when a pesticide is sprayed in the room. Acute exposure symptoms include headaches, dizziness, muscle twitching, weakness, tingling sensations, and nausea. Long-term exposure refers to exposure to pesticides over a long period of time. Long-term exposure symptoms include birth defects, learning disabilities, behavioral changes, organ damage, forms of cancer, including leukemia, breast cancer, brain tumors, and asthma symptoms.
What can we do?
The first step to protecting your children against pesticide exposure is adopting integrated pest management (IPM) practice. IPM is using a variety of control techniques and focuses on eliminating the causes of pest infestations instead of merely treating the symposium. IPM involves keeping pests out, starving and drying pests out, eliminating safe havens for pests, monitoring for pests, creating an IPM plan and keeping proper records, and treating existing pest problems.
- Keep household pesticides out of children. These include bath and kitchen disinfectants, products used to kill mold or mildew, roach sprays and baits, Insect repellents, weed killers, rat and other rodent poisons, swimming pool chemicals, and flea, and tick shampoos, powders, and dips for pets.
- Childproofing. Lock up cabinets with pesticide insides by installing safety latches on cabinets.
- Follow the pesticide labels before using them.
- Use child-resistant packaging correctly by tightly sealing the container.
- Make pesticide containers completely out of children’s reach.
- Keep pesticides in their original containers and never use food or drink containers to store pesticides.
- Teach your children that pesticides are poisonous.
- If you used pesticides, wash your clothes separately from other family members’ clothes.