High-Toxin Foods Dangerous to Preschoolers, Families

Davis, CA—With the growing popularity of organic foods, our nation is becoming more aware of the dangers of ingesting pesticides and toxins. Unfortunately, a recent study published in Environmental Health journal shows that food-borne toxin exposure is still high in children and their families.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, chief of the division of environmental and occupational health at UC Davis, CA, researched the consumption of high-toxicity food items in 364 preschool and school-aged children. She and her team compared the consumption levels of arsenic, dieldrin, DDE, dioxins and acrylamide to the benchmarks for cancer and other non-cancer health risks. They found that all of the children were ingesting levels of arsenic, dieldrin, DDE and dioxins that exceeded the benchmarks for cancer, and that more than 95% of the preschoolers also had non-cancer risks for acrylamide.

This study specifically focused on young children due to a lack of information on how early exposure to multiple toxins affects brain and overall development.

The toxins that were reported on in this study are commonly found in pesticides and can lead to a range of possible risks, such as cancer, developmental disabilities, birth defects and other conditions. A list of high-pesticide items that were pinpointed in this study includes tomatoes, peaches, apples, peppers, grapes, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, spinach, dairy, pears, green beans and celery. Acrylamide, while not found in pesticides, is a dangerous cooking byproduct found in potato and tortilla chips.

It was also noted that these risks could be lowered by simple diet changes. Families with young children are advised to decrease food-borne toxin exposure by buying organic foods when possible. Also, because pesticides are found on many food items, it is important to eat a wide variety of foods so that one type of pesticide does not accumulate in the body.

More research is still needed to understand the effects that multiple toxins can have on the body, especially in young children.

published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2013 (online 12/11/12)