Updated: Thursday, 20 May 2010, 6:05 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 20 May 2010, 6:05 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - If you have young children, you'll want to pay close attention to this story. A new study is linking pesticides to attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.
If we knew that something caused ADHD, we could try to avoid it. A new report links ADHD with a type of pesticides, called organophosphates. Biologically, that's not surprising.
Dr. Alan Lockwood explained, "Organophosphates are a special class of pesticides because they interfere directly with the chemical systems brain cells use to communicate with each other."
Dr. Lockwood is professor of neurology at the Jacobs Neurological Institute. He's an expert in pollution-related disease, and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. We looked over the report. The authors studied more than 1,100 kids age 8 to 15, and tested their urine for breakdown products of pesticides. 407 of the kids had no detectable levels. In those who had measurable amounts, the ones who had the highest levels were twice as likely to have ADHD as the ones without detectable levels. But that doesn't prove the pesticides were to blame.
"What they found was just a single spot urine check, so that there's no way to know whether these children were exposed to organophosphates on a continuing basis for long periods of time," said Dr. Lockwood.
Our exposure to pesticides is mainly from food, fruits and vegetables grown using organophosphates foods with the highest levels include grapes, pears, apples, celery, strawberries, spinach, blueberries and potatoes. But the pesticides can mostly be washed off.
Dr. Lockwood said, "Doing like they tell you on the labels in the store. We advise you to wash all your produce before you consume it."
And you can also buy organic fruits and vegetables.
"They still have very small concentrations of pesticide residues in them, but they're much, much lower than produce that's raised conventionally," explained Dr. Lockwood.
So what's the right way to wash produce? Is tap water good enough, or should you use one of those special produce washing products?
That's been studied a couple of times. Rinsing produce under running tap water significantly reduces the amount of pesticides, and the special products don't really improve on that. The only thing that seems to be better is spraying with diluted vinegar, and then rinsing. That also reduces bacteria very effectively.