Organophosphate pesticides kill agricultural pests by poisoning their brains. New research suggests those chemicals may harm young human brains, too, increasing risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) even at low doses.
Researchers looked for evidence of exposure to the pesticide malathion in children’s urine. They found that abnormal levels, even when low, raised the risk of ADHD by 55 percent.
These results don’t definitively show the pesticides caused the problem, but certainly raise important questions — and suggest that eating organic might help prevent the disorder.
The effects of pesticides have been studied before, but mostly among populations such as farm workers that get regular, high-level exposure. The new study was the first to consider the effects of the low amounts children get by eating fruits and vegetables contaminated with the pesticides in the field.
Federal statistics show that roughly one quarter of strawberries and frozen blueberries tested were contaminated with malathion in 2008, as was 19 percent of celery. (Via the Los Angeles Times and Time).