Americans use more than 1 billion pounds of pesticides each year to fight pests in homes, businesses and other public places, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Because children play around on the floor and with objects that pesticides may have touched, their chances of pesticide exposure are higher and their developing bodies offer less natural protection against the harmful chemicals.
Harmful effects of pesticides: The American Academy of Pediatrics has linked childhood pesticide exposure to decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems. In addition, prenatal exposure can result in low birth weight, attention and learning problems and pediatric cancer.
Reduce exposure to pesticides: A few ways to help reduce your children's exposure to pesticides:
- Lock cabinets containing pesticides and cleaning products. Keep harmful chemicals out of reach. Make sure products are tightly sealed and stored in tall cabinets with locks to deter curious children. Learn additional ways to avoid accidental poisonings.
- Use chemical-free pest-control tactics. Keep vegetation at least one foot away from structures. Clean surfaces and dishes daily. Fill cracks in walls, windows and floors. Store food in sealed containers, and empty garbage containers regularly.
- Buy organic produce. If buying only organic fruits and vegetables is too expensive for you, follow the Clean Fifteen™ and Dirty Dozen™ lists to determine which to prioritize. Always wash and dry your produce before eating to remove any trace of pesticide residue.
- Keep children away from a treated area until it's dry. If you plan to treat an area or a pet, ensure that your child remains clear of the area until the product has dried completely. Follow directions on the product label for best results.
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