Are pesticides linked to childhood
On-going debate exists in the popular media and
elsewhere about the link between childhood asthma
and exposure to pesticides. Current research compiled
from Health Canada and other accredited medical
Health Canada. The Prevention and Management of
Asthma in Canada: A Major Challenge Now and in the
Canada states "the exact cause of asthma is
not known, but it appears to be the result of
a complex interaction"1 of factors:
is a lack of research on the effectiveness of
interventions to prevent the onset of asthma,
according to Health Canada. Based on the epidemiological
evidence, the following could contribute to
a reduction in the incidence of asthma2:
factors (a greater tendency to allergic
reactions to foreign substances);
factors which may sensitize the airways
(such as cat and other animal dander, dust
mites, cockroaches, workplace contaminants);
factors, which may include cigarette smoke
during pregnancy and childhood, respiratory
infections, and indoor and outdoor air quality.
exposure in the workplace to airborne contaminants;
exposure to passive smoke, both in the uterus
and among young children;
breastfeeding and delayed introduction of
exposure of young children to house dust
mites, cockroaches and moulds through regular
cleaning; and adequate ventilation; and
exposure of children who have a genetic
predisposition to asthma, to known sensitizers.
against childhood asthma largely concerns breastfeeding
and avoiding exposure to mites and cockroaches,
animal dander and cigarette smoke2.
of a study of 5,000 children showed that
breastfeeding might protect against asthma;
breastfed children have a lower incidence
of asthma and breathing difficulties.
A Report from The National Asthma Control Task Force.
Health Canada. The Prevention and Management
of Asthma in Canada: A Major Challenge Now and in
A Report from The National Asthma Control Task Force.
claims relating pesticides to childhood
On-going debate exists in the popular
media and elsewhere about the link between
childhood cancers and exposure to pesticides.
Critics erroneously attribute rising
cancer rates in children to pesticides
and argue that they should be banned.
exposure to pesticides cause cancer?
Only pesticides that do not pose an unacceptable
risk of cancer in humans are registered for use
in Canada. Detailed risk assessment and very
large margins of safety are built into the human
health evaluations that Health Canada's Pest Management
Regulatory Agency (PMRA) carries out on proposed
pesticides so that Canadians will be protected from
risks such as cancer.
The first step in a human health evaluation is an
examination of scientific studies to determine if
the pesticide causes adverse effects in laboratory
animals. One of the effects that are looked for
is whether the pesticide causes cancer in animals.
The majority of pesticides registered for use in
Canada do not cause cancer in laboratory animals.
If there is evidence that a proposed pesticide causes
cancer in laboratory animals, a special type of
assessment called a quantitative risk assessment
is conducted to determine if the use of the pesticide
would cause an unacceptable risk of cancer in human.
PMRA's risk assessments consider how the caner is
caused in laboratory animals and all potential exposures,
e.g. food, water, workplace, that may occur over
a lifetime. Only pesticides that are proven not
to pose unacceptable risk of cancer in humans are
Direct quotation from - Health Canada, PMRA web
Current research compiled from
Health Canada, and other accredited medical sources,
focus on physical activity and a healthy diet as
beneficial in cancer prevention.
Canada promotes "Healthy behaviours among young
people" - including physical activity and a healthful
diet - as a worthwhile method of cancer prevention.
"Avoidance of smoking, excess exposure to sunlight
and early sexual activity" are also recommended.
has one of the most rigorous regulatory systems
in the world to protect all Canadians, including
Health experts - from the Dieticians of Canada
to the Canadian Cancer Society - consistently
advocate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and
grains as one of the best ways to prevent cancer
and heart disease.
Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency
(PMRA), responsible for the pre-market evaluation,
re-evaluation and special review of all pesticides,
includes consideration of all population groups
including adults, teenagers, children, infants and
embryos; as well as extensive environmental considerations.
What risks do humans and pets
face after the lawn application of pesticides?
Safety factors or margins are currently built into
the evaluation of pesticides as a conservative approach
to assess the risk of products.
For cancer risk assessment, the PMRA uses a complex
process that utilizes animal toxicology testing
data and daily lifetime exposure estimates. This
type of assessment is also used by the International
Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the United
States EPA and other government and academic organizations.
It takes into account pesticide exposure from all
sources, including food and water, and considering
cumulative effects of pesticides that act in the
Canada's stringent regulatory system requires pest
control products to undergo a rigorous testing and
clearance process. These examinations include safety
to the applicator and consumer, and the impact on
Before a product can be sold...
Current toxicological testing requirements assess
potential impacts of pesticide use, including possible
effects in children, the developing fetus, pregnancy
Are golfers at risk from exposure
to pesticides when playing on a golf course?
There is no scientific evidence that golfers face
any health risks from the pest control products
properly used to maintain golf courses. Once a liquid
product is applied and the turf grass is dry or
a granule product has been watered in, there is
a very low risk of exposure to golfers or others
who enter the area.
Hudson Institute declared that pesticides
have been primarily responsible for reducing
cancer rates because their use has introduced
more fruits and vegetables into the North
American diet. This view has been reiterated
in a November 15, 1997, issue of Cancer magazine.