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Organic Consumers Association

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Kids on the Frontline: How Pesticides Are Undermining the Health of Rural Children

A little over 100 years ago, Congress enacted the first U.S. pesticide law. The Insecticide Act of 1910 put labeling guide- lines in place to protect farmers from unscrupulous vendors attempting to sell pesticide products that didn’t perform as
advertised.

To this day, we control pesticides through a system of registration and labeling, with a primary goal of getting products to market. The result? Each year, more than 680 million pounds of pesticides are applied to agricultural fields across
the country. This 2007 figure — the most recent government estimates available — climbs to more than a billion when common non-agricultural pesticide uses are included.

We believe this is too much. Ever-stronger science shows that even at low levels of exposure, many of these chemicals are harmful to human health— and children’s developing minds and bodies are particularly vulnerable. It is also increasingly
clear that alternative, less chemical-intensive approaches to farming are not only viable, but would strengthen the resilience of agricultural production.

Put simply, there is no need for our food and farming system to put our children’s health at risk from chemical exposure.

Kids on the Frontline builds on the findings of A Generation in Jeopardy, our 2012 report summarizing the state of the science linking pesticide exposure and children’s health harms. In addition to highlighting the latest scientific findings, this
new report focuses in on the particular health risks pesticides pose to children in rural agricultural communities.

Rural children experience the same chemical exposures faced by children in communities across the country from pesticide residues on food and applications in schools, parks and homes. They face additional exposures when agricultural chemicals contaminate water supplies or drift from nearby fields. These rural exposures and their impacts on children’s health are the primary focus of this report. We examine the particular vulnerabilities of children in rural communities,
highlight the results of studies in rural and agricultural areas, and present specific data on four agricultural states — California, Hawai‘i, Iowa and Minnesota — that tell distinct stories of pesticide exposure in rural communities.

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