Aerial pesticide spraying in order to exterminate mosquitoes, may have a link to increase in the number of children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. It could also be a cause of delays in development in children. This study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies on suggests this is the case.
Health authorities have always encouraged the spraying of pesticides as mosquitoes are know to carry various viruses, some of which can cause birth defects. That said, new research suggest that the this constant spraying of chemicals could be to blame for birth defects.
Scientists reached this conclusion after they saw a 25 percent rise in autism and developmental disorders in children who lived in areas where this mosquitoes spraying has been going on since 2003, this is according to the study, named "Aerial Pesticide Exposure Increases the Risk of Developmental Delay and Autism Spectrum Disorder."
The Researchers "identified a swampy region in central New York where health officials use airplanes to spray pyrethroid pesticides each summer. The pesticides target mosquitos [sic] that carry the eastern equine encephalitis virus, which can cause swelling of the brain and spinal cord," according to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Pyrethroids a synthetic chemical used as a pesticide, may be linked to autism
Pyrethroids, these are chemicals that structure resembles that of pyrethrum and they are manmade. Pyrethroids are a natural toxin that is found in certain species of chrysanthemum flowers. The insecticide properties of which were discovered in the1800s, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. Pyrethroids are more toxic to insects and mammals, and persist longer in the environment, than pyrethrum.
Children exposed to large amounts of pyrethroids may experience dizziness, headaches and nausea, as well as other more serious side-effects, including tremors, convulsions and loss of consciousness. The side-effects in adults are similar.
The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry has stated that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that pyrethroids can cause birth defects. Despite this animal studies show that the chemicals can cause harm to a developing brain in "very young animals."
Aerial spraying for mosquitoes is not effective and a danger to public health
the results of this study only confirms current health concerns involved with aerial spraying. The dangerous chemicals when distributed can result in pesticide drift, this is where the chemicals are carried by the wind, as a result these chemicals end up well beyond the intended target.
As well as the potential health risks, it has also been said aerial spraying is the most ineffective method of mosquito control. According to the experts, aerial spraying or fogging as it’s also known only exterminates 10% of adult mosquito populations, This is according to the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia, which is a nonprofit organization established in 1985.
Mosquito are lower down on the food chain and another side effect of ariel spraying is that the natural predators of the mosquito can be harmed more than the mosquitoes themselves. This in turn adds to increase in the number of mosquito, it adds. "Data from a study in New York State published in the Journal for Mosquito Control found that after 11 years of insecticide spraying, the mosquito population had increased 15 times."
Aerial spraying may also be a cause of pesticide resistance in mosquitoes.
“Using aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes carrying harmful viruses may be more harmful than the virus itself”, says The Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia. Several prominent Quebec scientists and physicians wrote a letter over a decade ago that stated:
“Indiscriminate spraying of pesticides, especially in heavily populated urban areas, is far more dangerous to human health and the natural environment than a relatively small risk of West Nile Virus ... Ironically, such spraying is especially dangerous to those with impaired immunity for whose 'protection' such spraying is mainly being done. ..Those individuals who are most vulnerable in this chemical action against mosquitoes include children, pregnant women, the elderly, chemically sensitive and immuno-suppressed individuals, such as patients with AIDS and cancer, and people suffering with asthma and other allergies”.
Varying Research ties autism to pesticide exposure
Scientists from the AAP recognize that the findings build on the existing research that links pesticides to autism. Steven Hicks, MD PhD stated "Other studies have already shown that pesticide exposure might increase a child's risk for autism spectrum disorder or developmental delay,".
"Our findings show that the way pesticides are distributed may change that risk. Preventing mosquito-borne encephalitis is an important task for public health departments. Communities that have pesticide programs to help control the mosquito population might consider ways to reduce child pesticide exposure, including alternative application methods."
A large number of pesticides also mimic endocrine. This means that they copy sex hormones in the body and cause various problems which include negative affects on reproductive development. This connection with endocrine mimickers and autism is documented in Helke Ferrie's book Dispatches From the War Zone of Environmental Health, in which Colborn states:
"these endocrine disrupters are trans-generational", meaning that they cross the placenta, affecting fetal development in many different ways, ranging from retardation to autism and learning and behavioral problems.
Endocrine disrupters also affect genetically mediated timetables, so that cancers or infertility develop later in life”.
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