80% of adults, children in US have pesticides in their bodies from food

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SAN ANTONIOMore than 80% of urine samples drawn from children and adults in a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contained a weed-killing chemical linked to cancer.

It’s a finding that scientists have called disturbing and concerning.

Pesticides are chemicals used to kill weeds, pests, bacteria and fungi in agriculture. And now they are in our bodies. So how is that possible?

“The major exposure or pathway we see is to our food,” said Dr. Saugatta Datta, a professor of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of Texas San Antonio.

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Datta said it can also end up in our water from agricultural runoff.

That’s because more than 200 million pounds of glyphosate (a widely used weed killer) are used annually by U.S. farmers in their fields.

That’s not accounting for other pesticides sprayed daily.

Datta said this can be harmful to us, and the health risks depend on the amount in their systems and the toxicity of the chemicals.

“There are several categories of these chemicals that can include anti-microbial or anti-virus,” Datta said. “Properties which may interfere with normal body functioning of the human body.”

He said some can damage the nervous system, cause cancer or create hormonal balances or disrupt the endocrine system. It’s why Datta said that over the last decade, laws have been put in place.

“There was a collective effort that was done from the EPA side and the pesticide data program that prohibited use of certain pesticides for certain crops and certain fruits,” Datta said.

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Certain pesticides are banned from potatoes, grapes, strawberries, green beans, soybeans and almonds to name a few.

This doesn’t keep us completely safe from consuming pesticides in our food, but taking certain precautions may help.

Shopping at organic grocery stores that provide true organic produce and food can protect you from pesticides.

For example, Whole Foods lists what’s in their products on their website and are a USDA Organic-certified store.

Washing, peeling and cooking your food can also protect you from most of the pesticides sprayed on your food.

Datta said we shouldn’t panic, but the real solution is balance and transparency between farmers and the consumer.

“To have a notification of what type of pesticides, what is the quantity, I think, and when it comes as a bulk to the market, these information have to be transferred,”

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Datta said it’s especially important to know the toxicity level, and the amount of pesticides being sprayed on food is key.

“I think the sustainability of the environment will be coming from a limited and also usage that will be usage of these pesticides and also accounted for,” he said. “And as to have a balance, I think this sticking together will help in a conjoint way for the, you know, the best of the community.”

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