Live Greener: Pesticide’s Dirty Little Secrets
by Heidi Toy
When we think of pesticides, we focus on farmers spraying conventional crops; however, it is important to realize that our exposure isn’t all related to farm use. The US homeowner uses two to six times more pesticide per acre than do farmers. We are being exposed to pesticides on a daily basis, yet most people are unaware of the consequences they have to our health and that they are powerful neurotoxin, carcinogen, and endocrine disruptors.
If you have ever bug bombed, sprayed for ants, mosquitoes, rodents, fleas, ticks, lice, bees, wasps, fungus, molds, bacteria, weed prevention or abatement, you have used a pesticide. Pesticides are also contained in plastic shopping bags and water bottles, retail store receipts, detergents, disinfectants, and some cosmetics. The word pesticide is interchangeable with insecticide, herbicide, fungicide, and fumicide.
A neurotoxin is something that is harmful to the brain or brain function. Pesticides were discovered during World War II as a part of a chemical warfare initiative and given the name “nerve gas”. These chemicals worked so well at the destruction of living things that they decided that giving them in small doses to kill the pests in our lives was acceptable.
It was determined by the FDA that they only posed negative effects if given in large quantities, and this has been a decades-old strategy to expose lab rodents to high doses then extrapolate down for real-life human exposure. However, manmade neurotoxins are able to bioaccumulate in our tissue, namely our fatty tissue. The brain is predominately made up of fat and cholesterol, and the sheath that covers our nerves called myelin is also made up of fat and cholesterol.
Eating one chemically treated poison apple will not make you contract disorders and dysfunctions like ADHD, autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or dementia, but repeated exposure to a long list of toxic harmful chemicals in our lives can. It also makes it difficult to pinpoint what caused these disorders or what role these harmful toxins play, leaving the manufactures of these chemicals blameless.
Hormones are the chemical messengers secreted by endocrine glands that travel through the body in order to elicit a response from other endocrine glands and tissues. They help guide the development, growth, reproduction, and behavior of animals, including humans. Hormones work in very small doses, and they literally “run the whole show” when it comes to how our body functions.
As stated above, these endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) are only tested in large doses; however, our endocrine system operates on a low dose behavior. In 2012 the journal Endocrine Review published a study where twelve scientists, after investigation of 800 scientific studies concluded “very small amounts of hormone-disrupting chemicals to have profound, adverse effects on human health.”.
EDC can interfere with the body’s natural hormone system in three ways. First the EDC can mimic the natural hormones action by binding to and activating the receptor sites of the cells, thus making it so that the endocrine system is overwhelmed with both natural and synthetic hormone. Next, EDC can bind to these receptor sites without activating them. Finally, EDC decrease the concentration of natural hormones by interfering with the synthesis, transport, metabolism, and elimination of hormones. The endocrine system is complicated, and disruption of it is not just that of sex hormones. Insulin, for example, is a hormone, and disruption of insulin as a messenger and the receptor sites of the cells could lead to diabetes or insulin resistance. Additionally, thyroid hormone production, which influences every cell in our body, can be inhibited by some ten endocrine disruptor pesticides.
What you can do to decrease your pesticide exposure?
1. Buy organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables. If you cannot afford to purchase all of your produce organically, become familiar with the dirty dozen (the twelve most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables). 2. Grow your own fruits and vegetables. 3. Find non toxic ways to clean your home: vinegar and water work great. 4. Find non-toxic ways to rid your home of bugs and pests. Spiders are great for outdoor pest control. Let their webs remain intact. Don’t knock them down, and please, do not kill spiders. 5. Leave your shoes at the door. The residue from chemically treated lawns clings to our shoes and tracks into our homes, thus increasing toxic exposure. 6. Stop spraying your lawns and shrubs with harmful chemicals. It is both harmful to you and to bees. Our bee colonies are declining at such an alarming rate due to pesticides that we are on the brink of an agricultural disaster. 7. Use natural remedies to remove weeds. Here again vinegar can be used. Mix one cup salt into one gallon white vinegar and one tablespoon of dish soap. 8. Know what is in your cosmetics, lotions, and potions. It might sound drastic, but if you cannot eat it, you really should not be putting it on your skin.
We live in a toxic world, and while much of the pesticides for which we are exposed cannot be avoided, much of them can be, if we make a conscious choice to avoid them. You and your health are worth the effort.
Heidi Toy is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and the owner of “Educated Nutrition”, located in Altoona, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on autoimmune disorders.