July 8, 2014
A recent pesticide study out of California is notable not just for its findings but also because of what it says about the importance of pesticide reporting for public health. The study found that women living near fields where organophosphate pesticides were sprayed during their pregnancy were 60 percent more likely to have children with autism spectrum disorders.
This study – and others like it – would not have been possible without the existence of the California Pesticide Use Report, a publicly available database that was established by law in 1990. The researchers linked 970 women’s addresses during their pregnancies with commercial pesticide application data available in the California database.
Marylanders should take note of this fact because for several years there has been an effort afoot – remarked upon here and here – to require pesticide use reporting in this state. The Smart on Pesticides Coalition has attracted more than two dozen organizations, including the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, to its efforts to pass a law similar to California’s.
Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician and children’s health advocate, points out that the California database is, unfortunately, a rare bird. But he encouraged concerned parents to push for similar registries in their home states.
That’s good doctor’s advice.