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Pesticides Linked With Childhood Leukemia

Like we needed one more reason to keep nasty pesticides away from our homes and children. They’re linked to respiratory problems and asthma. And a recent study shows that children up to age 7 have a harder time ridding their bodies of the chemicals.

Now a new study shows that kids with childhood leukemia have elevated levels of household pesticides in their urine. The study was performed at the Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

These aren’t industrial-level pollutants, either. These are everyday chemicals people pick up at the hardware store and use in their very own backyards.


In our study, we compared urine samples from children with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) and their mothers with healthy children and their moms. We found elevated levels of common household pesticides more often in the mother-child pairs affected by cancer. We shouldn’t assume that pesticides caused these cancers, but our findings certainly support the need for more robust research in this area.

While epidemiologists don’t put this as a cause/effect case, they say that there is enough correlation to warrant concern. From the AFP:

Pesticides were found in the urine of more than half of the study’s participants, but levels of two OP metabolites — diethylthiophosphate (DETP) and diethlydithiophosphate (DEDTP) were higher in the children with ALL.

The other thing? Moms with children who had ALL were much more likely to use pesticides around the house–33% versus only 14% of the healthy population.

Which should make us all worried. Even if you live a green gardening life, do your neighbors? If not, how could those pesticides affect your family.

Image: cekrypton2 on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.


  1. Steve Savage says:

    Pesticides are not all the same (as you imply here). They differ in toxicity by factors of thousands. Pesticides are used on Conventional and Organic crops too – otherwise we wouldn’t have much to eat. “It is more noble to inform than to alarm”

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