In a new study released this week in Environmental Science and Technology, researchers found common household insecticides reached detectable levels in the blood of the majority of babies born at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland.
The researchers studied the "non-persistent" pesticides bendiocarb, propoxur, and permethrin, which are common consumer products for lawns, backyards and indoor pest control. They're called "non-persistent" chemicals because scientists think they disappear from the human body within a few days. That they could be detected in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies has researchers speculating about how these babies were exposed. All of the options are a little scary.
One possibility is that the pregnant women received regular, chronic exposure to these pesticides ... this could seriously hinder fetal development. Another possibility is that the soon-to-be moms were exposed shortly before childbirth — perhaps even in the hospital.
Researchers analyzed umbilical cord blood from 185 children born at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 2004 to 2005. They detected bendiocarb and propoxur in 73 and 55 percent of cord blood samples, while they found permethrin in 52 and 41 percent of samples (depending upon if they were trans or cis isomers.)
This is one of the first studies in the U.S. to analyze umbilical cord blood and assess in-utero exposure to these common household chemicals. Of course, detecting the chemicals is just the first step. Researchers now have to determine if the chemicals have any adverse effects on babies. And then ... maybe ... the government will step in and issue a warning against using them.
Need a better reason to try your hand at organic gardening?