most of the chemicals were pest killers
A disturbing report from the University of Texas Health Science Center found high levels of potentially dangerous pesticides in the homes of pregnant Hispanic women in the Rio Grande Valley, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"We had thought the chemicals would be from agricultural use, but it turned out that indoor use was much more common," said Dr. Beatriz Tapia, a lecturer at the Health Science Center's branch in Harlingen, told 1200 WOAI news.
Use of indoor chemicals to kill cockroaches and other pests in the Rio Grande Valley is not unusual, as many of the homes inhabited by low income individuals in the area are poorly constructed, and the climate leads to insect infestations.
But Tapia said she was worried that some of the chemicals used in the homes have been outlawed by the EPA, because they have been linked to autism, ADHD, and other conditions.
"There are definitely better alternatives than using chemicals to mitigate pest control," Dr. Tapia said.
She says the reports shows it is critical to launch an education campaign to encourage pregnant women and women with small children to use 'Integrated Pest Management' techniques like caulking doors and windows, putting away food and placing safer boric acid in walls.
"Once we educate our women of childbearing age about how they can safely and in a healthy manner diminish pests in their homes, they will bee empowered that they can make a difference in their family's life," Tapia said.
Researchers found traces of dangerous pesticides, including the banned chemical chlorpyrifos, in 60% of the homes sampled. Also found in homes was the chemical diazinon, which was also banned as being unsafe for pregnant women and children.
"These chemicals affect the physical development of their unborn children, and can also hurt their small children," Dr. Tapia said.
She says the discovery of the chemicals in the homes of women who were 30-34 weeks along in their pregnancies was very disturbing, because women that fal along in pregnancy spend 90% of their time inside their homes.