Lawn Chemicals and Kids: Should Parents Be Concerned?

Dr. Claire Gervais, with the University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine, is also a member of the City of Madison Pest Management Advisory Committee and President of Healthy Lawn Team. She discusses the issue of lawn chemicals and children.

1. Should parents be concerned about pesticides?

I’d like to first explain that often people think the term pesticide means only insecticide. Actually, pesticides include insecticides, herbicides and fungicides; chemicals that kill insects, weeds, and fungi.

Children are at greater risk of pesticide effects because they are smaller and their brain, liver, and immune systems are still developing. Also, they spend more time in direct contact with grass and more often put things in their mouth. Besides an increased risk of childhood cancers, such as leukemia and neuroblastoma (the most common brain cancer), the latest research shows that exposure to environmental chemicals contributes to the rise in childhood disorders such as autism and ADHD. A recent study shows that kids with ADHD have more pesticide metabolites in their urine.

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