Malathion, one of the two chemicals sprayed along roads in the BLSG District to kill mosquitoes, is an organophosphate pesticide. A new peer-reviewed study, published yesterday, concludes that organophosphate pesticide exposure in pregnant women can be responsible for a significant drop in IQ of their children. According to the study, in recent years, organophosphate pesticides and flame retardants have overtaken lead and mercury as the chemicals responsible for the biggest loss of IQ among children. The abstract of the study in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology is here and a news article about the study is here.
The research involved four different types of chemicals:
PBDE flame retardants, organophosphates, methylmercury, and lead. The researchers chose to focus on these four groups of chemicals because of extensive research on their ability to cause neurodevelopmental damage and cross the placental barrier. They looked at children and pregnant women because the brains of young children and fetuses are most sensitive to these potentially toxic effects.
Exposure to organophosphate pesticides is known to be dangerous.
A systematic review of neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal and postnatal organophosphate pesticide exposure in 2014 found that “Most of the studies evaluating prenatal exposure observed a negative effect on mental development and an increase in attention problems in preschool and school children.” The EPA banned most residential uses of organophosphates in 2001, but corporate interests argue that these pesticides are economically important. An author of yesterday’s study responded “Although people argue against costly regulations, unrestricted use of these chemicals is far more expensive in the long run, with American children bearing the largest burden.”
According to the new study, from 2001 to 2002 exposure to these chemicals contributed to a loss of 27 million IQ points among U.S. kids. From 2015 to 2016, the total IQ loss was still large but had dropped to an estimated loss of 9 million IQ points. The greatest estimated loss in IQ points during the 16-year period came from exposure to PBDE flame retardants. PBDEs contributed about twice the IQ point loss of lead or organophosphates, while mercury exposures were estimated to contribute to less than 1 percent of total IQ point loss.
The troubling results of this study are another reminder that the chemicals spewed from BLSG’s trucks are not without serious health risks. The leadership of BLSG routinely dismisses any health risks associated with their operation, but those men have limited credibility as scientists or health professionals. We must each decide for ourselves whether we want our front yards sprayed with malathion and permethrin.