An important study about the link between pesticides and children’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), was published recently in the journal Pediatrics. This is not an anecdotal small research; a comprehensive study of 1,139 children from different areas of Unites States was done. The findings state “Children with above-average levels of one (pesticide) byproduct had roughly twice the odds of getting a diagnosis of ADHD”. The general term “ADHD” encompasses a variety of problems for health, attention, learning and social interaction. A connection can be drawn to origins of pesticide chemicals, which were originally developed as a nerve gas for combat application in a World War II, causing nerve damage. That’s why they kill pests and insects. A logical conclusion that pesticides, affecting nervous system, can be responsible for behavior and learning problems, is now proven by study.
Digestion and food, as well as human skin seem to be the logical sources of transferring chemicals into the body. Worth noting is that skin of children, their body’s largest organ, is much thinner and sensitive. Pediatric dermatologists found that infant skin is 20% to 30% thinner than in adults. That is almost one third thinner than that of the grownups. Its immaturity lowers the protective function from temperature, bacteria or chemicals. Just as one would monitor well the exposure of an infant or young child to full sun or freezing conditions, special care needs to be extended to protection from toxins. That is why avoiding Parabens in children products, avoiding harsh chemicals, even perfumes etc is so important. Science Daily reports that one in five children is affected by eczema or problems with skin condition.
If one considers skin safety, it is worth to look further into clothing. Why clothing? Because it is obviously in contact with skin all the time. Also because conventional cotton growers are one of the biggest consumer of pesticide and insecticide, using actually 24% of its world amount. The effect on the consumer is that a pair of jeans or a cotton tee shirt might use 1/3 lb of potentially toxic chemicals, strong enough to directly kill lower life forms. An open question is how much of it action affects people and how many chances we are willing to take in answering it.
Viable solutions exist. A strong consumer insistence on non toxic solutions for the environment, as well as our products, will force the industry in better direction. Our everyday products don’t need to be “organic” – ALL products should be safe, without potentially harmful chemicals. All food should be safe to eat. Clothing should not be dipped in formaldehyde, sprayed with chemicals, especially clothing for infants.
For right now, label “organic” does provide a safety standard of inspection by third party. The organic growers and manufacturers go through great length and cost, to evidence their practices and ingredients. There are also many choices of clothing for children and adults made from safe, natural fibers: hemp, organic cotton and recently bamboo, grown without toxins. Is the cost of organic clothing higher? The answer depends on how is it compared and to which products. Comparing it to a chemically sprayed crop, sweat shop made garment, with worker receiving a few cents for his work, is one way. Comparing it to growing organic crops, fending off the insects manually, caring for soil, water and air, is another way of looking. Considering buying one organic Tee instead of three conventional ones, one pair of organic jeans instead of two might be a sensible solution. It is the solution that allows the children and the planet to breathe easier, literally.