OP pesticides, organic diets, and children's health: Lu et al. respond.Krieger et al. criticize the misrepresentation misrepresentation
In law, any false or misleading expression of fact, usually with the intent to deceive or defraud. It most commonly occurs in insurance and real-estate contracts. False advertising may also constitute misrepresentation. of our recent paper (Lu et al. 2006) with respect to the relevance to health risk reduction of dietary organophosphorus or·gan·o·phos·pho·rus
organ·o·phos (OP) pesticide exposure in children. They argue that current OP exposures, measured in the form of urinary metabolites in children, are well below the "safe" level and therefore pose "zero" risk.
The basis for Krieger et al.'s extraordinary statement is the claim that "specific health risks" have never been associated with dietary pesticide exposures, and that "zero cases of disease" have occurred that can be attributed to such exposures. However, Krieger et al. must be aware of the tragic misapplication misapplication,
n the use of incorrect or improper procedures while administering treatment; results from inadequacy in experience, training, skills, or knowledge. May also result from impairment or incompetence. of the carbamate carbamate /car·ba·mate/ (kahr´bah-mat) any ester of carbamic acid.
A salt or ester of carbamic acid. insecticide aldicarb aldicarb /al·di·carb/ (al´di-kahrb) a carbamate pesticide used as an insecticide; in some countries, also used as a rodenticide.
a carbamate pesticide. to watermelons in California in 1986, resulting in 6 deaths, 17 hospitalizations, and > 1,000 probable or possible poisoning cases (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agency of the U.S. Public Health Service since 1973, with headquarters in Atlanta; it was established in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center. 1986). The probability of such an event occurring again is certainly greater than zero. In fact, such an event was reported recently in Taiwan for an OP pesticide found in vegetables (Wu et al. 2001). Krieger et al. also ignore the fact that some pesticides are categorized as carcinogens and that dietary exposures to these compounds carry some risk. For example, the fungicide fungicide (fŭn`jəsīd', fŭng`gə–), any substance used to destroy fungi. Some fungi are extremely damaging to crops (see diseases of plants), and others cause diseases in humans and other animals (see fungal infection). chlorothalonil chlo·ro·thal·o·nil
A colorless crystalline compound, C8Cl4N2,used as a fungicide on a variety of vegetable crops, peanuts, lawns, and turfs and as a preservative in paints and adhesives. is classified by the State of California as a carcinogen [Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA OEHHA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment ) 2006], and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), independent agency of the U.S. government, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1970 to reduce and control air and water pollution, noise pollution, and radiation and to ensure the safe handling and (EPA EPA eicosapentaenoic acid.
n.pr See acid, eicosapentaenoic.
n. ) estimated that the cancer risk from dietary exposure to chlorothalonil is 1.2 x [10.sup.-6] (U.S. EPA 1999). Although one might agree with the U.S. EPA that this is a de minimus risk, the risk cannot be characterized as "zero."
Krieger et al. appear to dismiss the possibility that pesticides can produce non-acute adverse health effects, but recent studies have shown an association between adverse neurologic and growth outcomes in children exposed to OP pesticides in utero (Jacobson and Jacobson 2006; Whyatt et al. 2005; Young et al. 2005). To our knowledge, no epidemiologic studies of children's dietary OP pesticide exposures and adverse health effects have ever been conducted. To quote our current Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, "Absence of evidence is not necessarily the evidence of absence" (Rumsfeld 2003). A final judgment of the potential for OP pesticide exposure to cause adverse developmental or neurologic health effects in children will require rigorous epidemiologic studies that include sound exposure assessment.
Risk is a probabilistic concept and is generally considered to be dependent on exposure and toxicity. If exposure is reduced, then the corresponding risk is reduced. We believe that the jury is still out on the risk, particularly on the chronic neurologic health risk in young children. In our article (Lu et al. 2006) we raised the hypothesis that by reducing children's dietary exposure to OP pesticides, the risk of the associated health effects may be reduced. We look forward to future scientific evidence sufficient to either accept or reject this hypothesis. If our article has heightened unnecessary anxiety and fear among the public, this was not our intent. However, the perception of risk in the world of public health depends on individual attitudes and beliefs. Krieger et al. have misinterpreted our conclusion (Lu et al. 2006) as much as they have misunderstood the enforcement of the speeding limit, which is obviously not to issue citations to parked cars, but rather to minimize the possibilities of automobile accidents. The relevance of health risk reduction of dietary OP exposure in children is analogous to many public health campaigns in this county, such as the use of seat belts, smoking cessation, and HIV HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), either of two closely related retroviruses that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDS. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States. (human immunodeficiency virus human immunodeficiency virus
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
A transmissible retrovirus that causes AIDS in humans. ) prevention, which are not adopted to penalize or inconvenience individuals, but are intended for public health protection.
The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.
Department of Environmental Health
Rollins School of Public Health The Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) is the public health school of Emory University. Founded in 1990, RSPH has more than 850 students pursuing master's degrees (MPH/MSPH) and over 100 students pursuing doctorate degrees (PhD).
Richard A. Fenske
Department of Environmental and
Occupational Health Sciences
University of Washington
Dana B. Barr
National Center for Environmental Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1986. Aldicarb food poisoning from contaminated melons--California. MMWR MMWR Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report Epidemiology A news bulletin published by the CDC, which provides epidemiologic data–eg, statistics on the incidence of AIDS, rabies, rubella, STDs and other communicable diseases, causes of mortality–eg, Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 35:254-258.
Jacobson SW, Jacobson JL. 2006. New evidence of effects of organophosphate pesticides on neurodevelopment in children. Pediatr Res. 60(1):22-23.
Lu C, Toepel K, Irish R, Fenske RA, Barr DB, Bravo R. 2005. Organic diets significantly lower children's exposure to commonly found organophosphorus pesticides in food. Environ Health Perspect 114:260-263.
OEHHA. 2006. Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity, August 11, 2006. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Sacramento, CA:Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) was created in 1991 by Governor Pete Wilson, through an executive order. The agency combined six board, departments, and offices into one cabinet-level office:
Rumsfeld D. 2003. Attributed quote. Available: http://en. wikiquote.org/wiki/Donald_Rumsfeld [accessed 29 August 2006].
U.S. EPA. 1999. R.E.D. Facts: Chlorothalonil. EPA-738-F99-008. Washington DC:Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Whyatt RM, Camann D, Perera FP, Rauh VA, Tang D, Kinney PL, et al. 2005. Biomarkers in assessing residential insecticide exposures during pregnancy and effects on fetal growth. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 206(2):246-254.
Wu ML, Deng JF, Tsai WJ, Ger J, Wong SS, Li HP. 2001. Food poisoning due to methamidophos-contaminated vegetables. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 39(4)333-336.
Young JG, Eskenazi B, Gladstone EA, Bradman A, Pedersen L, Johnson C, et al. 2005. Association between in utero organophosphate pesticide exposure and abnormal reflexes in neonates. Neurotoxicology 26:199-209.