Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Children and Pesticides

Children act fast; so do poisons, including pesticides. The very products we use in and around our homes can actually harm a child's health if stored or used improperly, allowing exposure to potentially highly toxic substances.

A variety of assorted household chemical products are found in the home, some containing pesticides, such as ant and roach sprays and baits, rat poisons, lawn and garden pesticides, flea and tick shampoos and powders. Many additional products have potential to cause harm, particularly to children such as household cleaners, bath and kitchen disinfectants, automotive products, mold and mildew products and swimming pool chemicals.

According to the U.S. Poison Control Centers, a call about someone having been exposed to a poison occurs every 13 seconds. Nearly forty percent of those cases involve a child less than three years of age. In its 2008 annual report, the American Association of Poison Centers, indicated that children younger than 3 years were involved in 38.7% of exposures, and children younger than 6 years accounted for half of all human exposures. In addition, poison center data reported over 70,000 calls made to poison centers with concerns about exposure to common household pesticides. These are only the reported incidences. Also in its 2008 annual report, AAPC stated that from the nearly 2.5 million calls it received reporting exposure, more than 90% of the incidents had occurred in a residence.

Children are curious by nature, but they also spend time outdoors where pesticides may be present on lawns and play equipment; they crawl on carpeted floors that may have been treated with pesticides; they play with pets that may have been treated; and, they engage in frequent hand-to-mouth contact. Compared to adults, children's nervous, immune, digestive, and other bodily systems are still developing, making them less able to metabolize, detoxify, and excrete pollutants.

Preventing children from pesticide exposure in the home environment does not require an elaborate plan. Some simple, common sense, recommendations include the following:

Always read the pesticide product’s label first. All labels are required to bear the statement “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN,” but strict attention should be given to the entirety of label directions.

Never leave products, application equipment, or contaminated protective gear unattended.

Use child-resistant packaging properly and re-close if interrupted during use.

Never transfer and store pesticides into other containers, such as those used for food and drink.

Always store pesticides and other potentially harmful household products in a locked cabinet, closet, locker, or garden shed.

Remove children, pets, and their toys before applying pesticides to any area. Most product labels will state to keep out of treated areas until sprays have dried. Some labels may contain additional directions for washing food-processing surfaces and utensils prior to reuse if applicable.

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