Protect Our Children from Toxic Pesticides – Roadshow across India

September 4, 2015 0 Comments

Protect Our Children from Toxic Pesticides – Exclusive Indian Roadshow with Dr. Bruce Lanphear

Dr. Bruce Lanphear, M.D., M.P.H., is a public health physician and professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada who studies the impact of fetal and early childhood exposures to environmental neurotoxins on children’s health. Based on extensive research by Dr. Lanphear and other scientists, he asserts in the short video “Little Things Matter” that even low-level exposures to toxins can be harmful, especially for children.

Children in India are being exposed to various environmental toxins, including lead, pesticides, mercury and flame retardants. These chemicals are so tiny they cannot be seen by the naked eye. Why would tiny chemicals matter? And how does it impact the intelligence of children?

In the U.S., studies show have shown a significant reduction in IQ scores due to environmental toxins such as organophosphate pesticides (OPs). One study found that children who were exposed to OPs during fetal development had a five-point drop in IQ scores when the maternal exposure increases from 10 to 75 parts per billion (ppb). One ppb is equals to two tablespoons of diluted sugar in an Olympic sized swimming pool.

Children in India face a far worse situation than the U.S. OPs like chlorpyrifos are still widely used in India; household use of chlorpyrifos was banned in the US. From 2005 to 2009 alone, more than 7,163 metric tons of chlorpyrifos were used in India, based on government data. Meanwhile, methamidophos, an OP partially banned for use in vegetables in India, caused the deaths of 23 children in Bihar in 2013 after contaminating their mid-day meal. Further, brain-harming pesticides like malathion, diazinon, diclorvos, and parathion have been restricted or banned in the US and EU but are still registered for use in India.

Aside from direct poisoning, related literature also shows a similar impact of harmful pesticides on Indian children’s intelligence. A 2005 study by Kavithta Kuruganthi on cotton plantations in Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh shows that children highly exposed to pesticides performed worse in 80% of the tasks involving memory, analytical skills and problem solving skills compared to children who were less exposed to pesticides. Kuruganthi’s study covered 1,648 children aged between 5 to 13 years old. They were not directly involved in cotton production but were exposed to toxic pesticides through foetal exposure and contaminated environments in their school, homes and food.

Lead is another harmful environmental toxin identified by Dr. Lanphear in his video. He shows how an increase of 100 ppb in children’s blood can reduce IQ by six points. As lead exposure increases, a couple more points are lost from children’s IQs, according to Dr. Lanphear. Meanwhile, in India, a 2015 study from Pune showed that 43% of 309 blood samples tested had unsafe amounts of lead in their blood. Among those exceeding the permissible level are eight children. Lead finds its way through the food that the people, including children, eat such as a popular instant noodle that was banned in New Delhi for having lead levels that were 7 times higher than the permissible amount.

By allowing children to be exposed to toxins (or to chemicals of unknown toxicity), we are “unwittingly using our children as part of a massive experiment” and deprive them of reaching their peak cognitive abilities, according to Dr. Lanphear.

Dr. Lanphear will be on an exclusive roadshow visiting various cities in India from September 4th to September 11th

, to talk about the impacts of toxins on the developing brains of young children.The roadshow is organized by PAN India and partners.  ###

For more information please contact: –

  1. Pesticide Action Network India – C. Jayakumar (e-mail : jayakumar.c@gmail.com)
  2. Protect Our Children From Toxic Pesticides Campaign Coordinator – Deeppa Ravindran ( e-mail : deeppa.ravindran@panap.net)

Updates of the tour will be shared on :-

Facebook: PAN Asia Pacific and Twitter: @PANAsiaPacific with the hashtags #PesticidesFreeWorld

Schedule of the tour and dates: –

4 to 5 September, 2015- Bangalore

6 to 7 September 2015- Trivandrum

9 to 10 September 2015 – Kolkata

11 September,2015 – Chandigarh

References:

  1. Little Things Matter by the Canadian Environmental Health Atlas www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6KoMAbz1Bw
  2. The Impact of Toxins on the Developing Brain by Dr.Bruce P. Lanphear Annu. Rev. Public Health 2015. 36:211–30
  3. Poisoning Our Future: Children and Pesticides by Meriel Watts, PAN Asia Pacific ( 2013) http://www.panap.net/sites/default/files/Poisoning-Our-Future-Children-and-Pesticides.pdf
  4. Statistics of pesticide use from 2005 to 2009 in India by the Department of Plant Protection http://ppqs.gov.in/IpmPesticides.htm
  5. Blood tests in Pune show high lead levels ( 2015). http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Blood-tests-in-Pune-show-high-lead-levels/articleshow/47682963.cms
  6. Two Years After Bihar Tragedy, Poisonings Continue.(2015) http://panap.net/childrenandpesticide/?p=1158
  7. ADHD: Incidence has zoomed since 2005: Assocham study .The Hindu Businessline( 2011)
  8. Effects of pesticide exposure on development task performance in Indian children. Kugurganti K. (2005). Chilr Youth Environs ,15 (1)
  9. Maggi Noodles Banned in India’s Capital for High Lead Content. Time (2015) http://time.com/3907030/maggi-noodles-lead/