New research shows that farmers who used agricultural insecticides in the last decade experienced increased neurological symptoms, even when they were no longer using the products. According to another study, the rate of new illnesses associated with pesticide exposure at schools increased significantly in children from 1998 to 2002.
Data from almost 19,000 North Carolina and Iowa farmers linked use of insecticides to reports of reoccurring headaches, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, hand tremors, numbness and other neurological symptoms. Some of the insecticides named in the study are still on the market.
Dr. Walter Alarcon says, "Exposure to pesticides in the school environment is a health risk facing children and school employees." Pesticides continue to be used both on and around school property, with some schools at risk of pesticide exposure from neighboring farms. Currently, there are no federal laws limiting pesticide exposures at schools.
Alarcon examined 1998-2002 data from 2,600 people with acute pesticide-related illnesses associated with school exposure. He estimates that during that period, there were 7.5 cases of pesticide poisoning per million children, and new cases increased significantly from 1998 to 2002. Children were often misdiagnosed with other diseases, when pesticides were actually the cause of their symptoms.
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