for every increased increment of prenatal organophosphate pesticide exposure, the IQs of the children studied dropped by 1.4 percent and their working memory scores dropped by 2.8 percent. A key finding of the Columbia University study was that the relationship between pesticide exposure and IQ and working memory scores was linear and showed “no evidence for a threshold.” In other words, the greater the exposure, the greater the impact on cognition.
If it says it’s organic, it doesn’t have to be 100 percent organic unless it says it is. Remember processed foods can be labeled organic if only 80 percent of the ingredients are organic.
Organic foods can contain pesticides…and some may be harmful
As NPR says….
When people are buying organic food, they often make the incorrect assumption that there are no pesticides. It’s true that organic production often uses fewer dangerous chemicals, but certain pesticides are allowed.
It turns out that a key factor in chemicals being cleared for use on organic crops is whether they occur naturally. Spinosad, for example, comes from the soil bacterium Saccharopolyspora spinosa. It can fatally scramble the nervous systems of insects. It’s also poisonous to mollusks.
In the USDA tests, there was ten times as much spinosad on organic lettuce than was found on conventionally cultivated fruits and vegetables.
The USDA maintains an official list of substances that can and can’t be used for organic farming.
This is interesting, but not alarming. This is a bacterium in the soil that has been producing this pesticides probably for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s reasonable to assume that it might produce more of this pesticide if synthetic pesticides were absent. Still, however, I don’t appreciate farmers applying extra pesticides - I feel that the spirit of organic products is pesticide free, and this is frustrating to me…
When you test synthetic chemicals for their ability to cause cancer, you find that about half of them are carcinogenic.
Until recently, nobody bothered to look at natural chemicals (such as organic pesticides), because it was assumed that they posed little risk. But when the studies were done, the results were somewhat shocking: you find that about half of the natural chemicals studied are carcinogenic as well.
A recent study compared the effectiveness of a rotenone-pyrethrin mixture versus a synthetic pesticide, imidan. Rotenone and pyrethrin are two common organic pesticides; imidan is considered a “soft” synthetic pesticide (i.e., designed to have a brief lifetime after application, and other traits that minimize unwanted effects). It was found that up to 7 applications of the rotenone- pyrethrin mixture were required to obtain the level of protection provided by 2 applications of imidan.
Unless you know your grower personally, there is no guarantee that your produce has been grown without pesticides or other chemicals.
Rotenone is a slow-acting organic compound derived from a number of subtropical shrubs from the Lonchcarpus, Derris and Tephrosia plant families. The compound poisons the system of targeted pests through ingestion or by contact and retards electron-transport in the nervous system. Rotenone breaks down rapidly in sun and is most effective when used during evenings. The insecticide has shown consistently good results in the control of a wide range of insects including whiteflies, melon aphids, rosy apple aphids, grape leafhoppers, mealybugs and a number of beetle species.
Pyrethrum is an organic compound with insecticidal properties obtained from a number of flowers from the Chrysanthemum group, mainly C. cinerariaefolium, C. marshalilli and C. coccineum. The organic insecticide is rapid acting and has a knock-out effect on targeted pests by affecting the nervous system and leading to nerve discharges that cause paralysis and eventual death. Pyrethrum is often used in combination with rotenone to increase efficacy of control over greater number of pests such as flea beetles. Pyrethrum is highly effective in controlling a number of beetle species, leafhoppers and whiteflies. The insecticide is also used for beet armyworms, black cutworm, thrips and sawflies.
However, Cox (2002) cites several studies indicating the possibility of a connection between pyrethrins and cancer, including one study showing a 3.7-fold increase in leukemia among farmers who had handled pyrethrins compared to those who had not. In 1999, a USEPA memo classified pyrethrins as “likely to be a human carcinogen by the oral route” (Cox 2002). Currently EPA is undertaking a review for pyrethrin, which is scheduled for completion and issuance of a Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED document) in June 2006. The RED summarizes the risk assessment conclusions and outlines any risk reduction measures necessary for the pesticide to continue to be registered in the U.S. (EPA 2004).
So I see that Pytherin and rotarone have been removed from the USDA database of allowed organic pesticides/fertilizers - either that or they are listed under a different names…spinosad is still there….
Still, there may well be other pesticides used in the “organic” produce you eat, so I hope that more of these so called organic pesticides are better regulated.
Coconut Water - Better than Sports Drinks like Gatorade
I love exercise. As you probably know, you lose a lot of sodium when you sweat. So it’s important to replace that sodium. In general artificial products like gatorade are not the best thing in the world for you body - even though they do help in that respect. Vegetables are a great source of sodium, as are eggs, but sometimes you just want something quick and easy to drink. One great, natural organic product that has sodium and electrolytes and carbohydrates is organic coconut water. I like the idea of consuming it as a way to refresh.
Watermelons treated with growth accelerants were exploding ‘like landmines.’
Here’s an excerpt from this related story.
A first year watermelon grower in Jianhsu (ying-soo) Province said he sprayed the growth accelerator, forchlorfenuron (for-klor-fen-ur-on) on the melons with hopes to beat his competitors and get his melons to the market faster and the next day. POW! Hundreds had exploded.
This is just another reason to buy organic as a lot of the time, you simply don’t know what’s in the “conventional” produce you’re buying.
One more thing to be careful of….what’s in the cushions, the floor and the carpet?
Just read this…
Study Documents PBDE Flame Retardant Levels in Children
Mexican-American children in California had levels 7 times higher than their counterparts in Mexico
“PBDEs are persistent pollutants that have been used in many consumer products and household materials, including foam padding in furniture, carpets, baby products, and in transportation, including automobiles,” explains study co-author Asa Bradman of CERCH. “These products tend to have long lifespans, and the flame retardants are not chemically bound to the materials they’re used with. As polyurethane foam and other materials containing the flame retardants age and degrade, they can release PBDEs into people’s homes in the form of dust. And scientists know that when you have persistent pollutants in dust, they get into children. In some ways, PBDEs are like lead in this regard: although we don’t put lead in paint anymore, many houses still have lead in their paint.”
California’s unique flammability standards, outlined in Technical Bulletin 117, resulted in the addition of millions of pounds of flame retardants to the polyurethane foam used in upholstered furniture, carpet pads, and infant products including car seats and portable crib mattresses. These standards may have had the unintended consequence of causing California homes to have the highest levels of PBDE flame retardants in the nation.
As wikipedia says, PDBE’s are bad news:
Published studies express concern because exposure to PBDEs impairs development of the nervous system. PBDEs have also been shown to have hormone-disrupting effects, in particular, on estrogen and thyroid hormones. PBDEs may possess liver toxicity,
So I’m really only beginning to understand the health consequences of common household items. It’s moderately disheartening that you can fill your body with organic produce and be littered with environmental toxins simply because they’re in your furniture padding, your rug, and your car. My preference tends towards wood floors or solid floors - as they are less dusty, but even there I think you have to worry about sealants.
This site suggests this solution:
Consider housecleaning with a high efficiency vacuum. These are expensive but filter our dust much better than conventional vacuum cleaners. About 80% to 90% of PBDE exposure of Americans is thought to come from household dust contamination.
The site also talks about how PDBEs are in plastic casing.
To me this suggests a market for non-chemically produced cushions and pillows. For example I just found a site with pillows made out of buckwheat hulls. Since buckwheat hulls come directly from food, it seems unlikely that they’d contain toxins. This is also the case for millet hulls. Organic cotton pillows would be another alternative.
The next problem is the carpet. Organic cotton rugs are available.
The next problem is plastic casing I consider that to be less of an issue these, as I write this on a computer built from titanium, and I increasingly watch tv on a computer.
The next problem would be wood sealants for wood floors. Apparently there are non-toxic sealants, but apparently that’s for outdoors, and apparently you can install interlocking wooden floors indoors that don’t need a sealant. Bamboo flooring is also water resistant. Looks good.
The idea is that with thought and planning household toxins can be dramatically reduced. Additionally, a higher quality vacuum is a good thing as is great ventilation :)