Pesticides & Children Fact Sheet
2002, the Texas Poison Control System of The Texas
Department of Health, received calls of pesticide
exposure to children under 18 years of age, 4,726,
most were to children under age six, 4,326.
are poisons, intended to kill living insects, rodents
or plants. By their very nature, most pesticides
create some risk to all living creatures, including
are more vulnerable to pesticides than adults. That's
because they are small and their brains, immune
system and detoxification organs are still developing.
Children are naturally curious, which leads them
to touch and taste everything.
is a pesticide?
Environmental Protection Agency's definition of
a pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances
often misunderstood to refer only to insecticides,
the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides,
and various other substances used to control pests.
In Your Home and Yard
abound in homes and yard from insect repellant,
weed killer, rat poison, some flea shampoos for
the dog, pressure treated wood on children's playscape,
antimicrobials in pool chemicals, fungicides in
paints and wallpaper, pesticides in shelving paper,
mothballs, and pesticides in the "edible"
waxes on fruits and vegetables, and more. It doesn't
take an accident to expose our children to these
toxic chemicals. Applying pesticides in home and
yard, even when you follow the directions, and using
products that contain pesticides means that everyone
in home gets ongoing doses that can be harmful over
considerable number of pesticides registered by
the EPA contain suspected carcinogens. And many
pesticides are nerve poisons, which mean they can
impact the development of a child's brain. The EPA
reports that 75 percent of U.S. households use at
least one pesticide product indoors in a given year,
and that 80 percent of the typical person's exposure
to pesticides occurs indoors.
indoor application of pesticides cannot account
for the amount of pesticides found in homes studied,
according to the EPA. That suggests that we import
pesticides inside from outdoors. In fact, indoor
dust collects pesticide residues, according to numerous
studies. While most pesticides decompose rapidly
when exposed to outdoor light and heat, in an indoor
environment they can persist, sometimes for years,
buried in carpet fibers, furniture, and stuffed
toys. There are alternatives though.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Home and Yard
Pest Management is a systematic approach to pest
control which relies on prevention, identification,
and control by the least harmful means, such as
biological controls, before moving on to more toxic
prevention starts with a clean house
Sanitation represents the most basic tenet
of Integrated Pest Management, because it deprives
pests of food and shelter.
food and drink spills immediately to deprive pests
clutter, such as newspaper stacks, where pests
set up house.
food in airtight and secure containers.
leaky plumbing, which quenches pests' thirst and
moistens their air.
cracks and block holes both inside and outside
the house to bar pests from entry and freedom
advantage of the food chain
mess with Charlotte's web! Spiders serve as natural
predators to most pests, so consider spiders as
helpful housemates (most spiders are completely
ladybugs and other beneficial insects, which feed
on aphids, mites, small insects, and insect eggs.
other predatory insects, birds and other wildlife
to feast on pests by creating a hospitable habitat
in your backyard. For example, bats eat as many
as 3,000 insects a night, so build a bat-house
in your yard.
pests with the help of black lights (which attract
moths), pheromones (which take advantage of sexual
attraction), sticky paper, and good old fashioned
barriers, such as window screens, to prevent pests
from slipping in.
least toxic alternatives.
If pest problems persist after you've exhausted
all non-toxic alternatives, work your way up the
ladder of toxicity slowly, starting with the least
toxic alternatives. Beyond Pesticides, a nonprofit
organization promoting safe alternatives to toxic
pesticides, lists the following pesticides as Least
acid is an insect stomach poison that is less
toxic, more effective and more economical than
standard chemical pesticides, according to the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
gels and diatomaceous earth both dehydrate
and rodent baits containing nonvolatile chemicals
made with essential oils, such as garlic,
pepper extracts, and citrus oil, among others
soaps made from fatty acids
for an IPM practitioner.
If success in your own pest control efforts eludes
you, there are professional pest specialists who
practice Integrated Pest Management.
mulch to smother weeds.
Covering garden soil with mulch blocks weeds. Use
two or three inches of shredded bark, wood chips,
straw, cocoa bean hulls, gravel or rocks. The mulches
will also keep moisture in the soil so you'll have
to water less frequently.
weeds with boiling water.
Weeds, like humans, will burn if exposed to boiling
water. This method also kills weed seeds.
weeds to death.
Mixed 5 tablespoons of liquid soap (such as dishwashing
liquid) in one quart (4 cups) of water in a spray
bottle. Coat the weeds with the soapy water. Works
best on hot days.
weeds with vinegar.
Pour household vinegar into a spray bottle and evenly
coat weeds with it. U.S. Department of Agriculture
scientists recently confirmed this in tests. Vinegar
is really five percent acetic acid in water, and
it burns the plant, especially on sunny days. For
extra strength weed killer, look for pickling vinegar,
which is nine percent acetic acid. Don't get the
vinegar on your garden plants, as it can kill them
weeds a stiff drink of alcohol.
Mix one to five tablespoons of alcohol--depending
on how stubborn the weeds are--with one quart (4
cups) of water in a spray bottle. Shower weeds with
the spray. Don't let the alcohol get on garden plants
as it may damage their leaves.
every 5 days and leave grass clippings
on the lawn. If you have longer clippings, compost
native and pest-resistant plant
landscaping a yard or planning a garden, choose
plant varieties that are native to our region and
climate. Hearty, native plants resist disease and
infestation, and often use less water.
plants and vegetables that repel pests
these plants for you region such as marigolds
out and pick off pests
pulling weeds and picking insects out of lawns and
gardens is one of the most effective ways to keep
them from spreading. Learn to identify insect
predators of pests
and encourage the presence of insect-feeding birds,
bats, spiders, praying mantises, lady bugs, predatory
mites and parasitic flies and wasps. Beneficial
insect species, such as ladybugs, can often be purchased
things clean in the yard
areas free of debris to limit nesting sites for
insect and animal pests.