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Cancer causing pesticides living in our bodies { June 21 2005 }

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Kelly Campbell at 415-981-6205 x350

CDC study shows that most people in the U.S., including children, carry multiple pesticides in their bodies
More than 90% of the thousands of people tested carried mixture of pesticides, many linked to serious health problems

SAN FRANCISCO (July 21, 2005)--Scientists at Pesticide Action Network North America analyzed pesticide data in a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), finding that more than 90% of those tested carried a mixture of pesticides in their bodies. Many of these chemicals have been linked to health effects such as cancer, birth defects and neurological problems.

“This study highlights the tip of a toxic iceberg,” said Margaret Reeves, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network. “CDC evaluated only a fraction of the total number of pesticides used every day in agricultural fields, homes and gardens and found many of these toxic chemicals present in our bodies.”

This is CDC’s third national report sampling the blood and urine of thousands of subjects across the country for dozens of toxic chemicals. In this third study, 148 environmental chemicals were measured, 43 of them pesticides. There are currently over 1200 pesticides formulated into tens of thousands of products registered for use in the U.S.

Some pesticides were found at higher levels in children, known to be particularly vulnerable to harm from pesticide exposure. For example, the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos was found at higher concentrations in children than adults, indicating exposures more than four times the level EPA considers “safe.” Home use of chlorpyrifos was banned in 2001 because of concern over health effects in children, but an estimated 10 million pounds continues to be used in agricultural fields every year.

“Kids across the country carry a mixture of dangerous chemicals in their bodies every day,” said Kristin Schafer, program coordinator at Pesticide Action Network. “While the chemical industry will say this is the cost of doing business, we say risking our kids’ health is not acceptable, and it's high time to shift to nontoxic ways of controlling pests.”

CDC found several organochlorine pesticides in the blood of study subjects. Organochlorines are persistent pesticides that can last in the environment—and the human body—for many years, and can be passed from mother to child in the womb and through breastmilk.

Most of these pesticides, such as DDT, chlordane and dieldrin, have been banned for decades. The organochlorine insecticide lindane, however, continues to be used in the U.S. though it has been banned in more than 50 other countries around the world. Bayer CropScience is the primary distributor of lindane agricultural products in the U.S.

PANNA issued a set of recommendations based on findings from the report. These include:

Corporations like Bayer CropScience that distribute organochlorine pesticide products should withdraw them immediately from the U.S. market.
Policymakers should use CDC’s biomonitoring data to help develop policies that better protect public health, and particularly our children.
CDC should make more detailed data publicly available to help policymakers set priorities and evaluate the impacts of policies put in place.
Consumers should choose organic food and pesticide-free household and hygiene products to protect their families and support the adoption of healthy alternatives.
Individual pesticides or their breakdown products found in more than 50% of study subjects[parent pesticide]:

TCP [chlorpyrifos]
3-phenoxybenzoic [permethrin]
2,5-Dichlorophenol [para-dichlorobenzene(moth balls)]
Diethylphosphate [several organophosphate pesticides]
2,4,6-Trichlorophenol [hexachlorobenzene, pentachlorophenol and hexachlorocyclohexane (technical grade lindane)]
para-Nitrophenol [ethyl and methyl parathion]
p,p'-DDE [DDT]
trans-Nonachlor [chlordane]
Oxychlordane [chlordane]
For more information about pesticides in people’s bodies including fact sheets and PANNA’s Ban Lindane Now! campaign, see

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