Pesticides and Their Impact on
                              Key  Facts  and  Talking  Points
While pesticides have benefits for society and can
be powerful tools for controlling pests, they are also
inherently toxic and can severely harm children's
health if stored or used improperly.

The following data-driven talking points can be useful
when talking with Head Start staff, families and others about
the risks associated with pesticides and the importance of
pesticide poisoning prevention.
Why are we talking
about pesticides?
• 50 percent of the 2 million poisoning incidents each year
  involve children younger than six years old, and 90 percent
  of these incidents occur in the home.
• The American Association of Poison Control Centers data
  reports more than 70,000 calls made to poison centers
  with concerns about potential exposure to common
  household pesticides.
• Among households with children under the age of five,
  close to half stored at least one pesticide product within
  reach of a child.
• Nearly 75 percent of households with no children under the
  age of five stored pesticides in an unlocked cabinet within
  a child's reach — a significant figure since 13 percent of all
  pesticide poisonings occur in homes other than that of a child.
Why are children
especially vulnerable?
Due to key differences in physiology and behavior, children are
more susceptible to environmental hazards than adults.

Differences in Physiology
• Children's nervous, immune, digestive and other systems
  are still developing. Developing systems are less able to
  detoxify and excrete these pollutants compared to adults.
• Children's systems provide less natural protection than
• Children breathe in more air than adults, inhaling
  almost 2 times as many pollutants.

Differences in Behavior
• Children spend more time outdoors on grass, playing fields,
  and play equipment where pesticides may be present.
• Children crawl on the floor and therefore have full body
  contact with carpets.
• Children's hand-to-mouth contact is more frequent,
  exposing them to toxins through ingestion.
   Decaying cockroaches and mouse dander are among the top triggers in asthmatic children. People
   with roaches in their homes are 1.5 times more likely to have asthma. People with rodents in their
   homes are 2 times more likely to have asthma.

      For more information on pesticides or pesticide poisoning prevention, refer to EPA's Pesticides Program
    Web site at, or call the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378.
How can  pesticide poisoning
affect a child's health?
Pesticide poisoning is especially harmful to children since
their brain and nervous systems are at early critical stages of
development. Because their bodies are still growing, children
have fewer natural defenses and can develop serious health
effects if overexposed to pesticides. There are two categories
of health effects of pesticide exposure. Acute exposure
refers to an intense exposure over a short period of time; for
instance, a child sitting in the  room during a spraying. Low-
dose and long-term exposure is exposure that occurs over
a period of time.

Acute exposure to  pesticides may
cause short-term effects such  as:

• Headaches;
• Dizziness;
• Muscle twitching;
• Weakness;
• Tingling Sensations; and
• Nausea.

Long-term exposure to  pesticides may
cause serious health effects such as:

• Birth defects;
• Learning disabilities;
• Behavioral changes;
• Organ damage;
• Forms of cancer, including leukemia,
  breast cancer, and brain tumors; or
• Asthma symptoms.
What can we do?
One of the most effective ways you can help prevent pesticide
poisonings is by adopting Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
practices to reduce children's exposure to pesticides. IPM is a
safer method of pest management that makes use of a variety
of control techniques and focuses on eliminating the causes
of pest infestations instead of merely treating the symptoms.
Since children spend so much of their day at home and in
school, IPM provides an opportunity to create a safer learning
environment—to reduce children's exposure to pesticides as
well as eliminate pests. IPM involves the following six steps.
• Keep Pests Out — If pests can't get inside, then you won't
  need to use any pesticides to kill them.
• Starve and Dry Pests Out — Every creature needs food
  and water to survive. Eliminate your pests' access to these
  things and they won't hang around for long.
• Eliminate Safe Havens for Pests — Roaches can live in any
  nook and cranny. Anywhere you see a small crack leading
  to a spot that people can't access, make sure to seal it up.
• Monitor for Pests — Monitoring is key to successful IPM.
  It lets us know when there is a problem so we can
  address it early.
• Create an IPM Plan and Keep Proper Records —
  An IPM plan is a document that indicates how you plan to
  monitor for pests and what you will do if pests suddenly
  arrive. Having  this tool will help you avoid the urge to use
  dangerous pesticides.
• Treat Existing  Pest Problems —To get rid of existing
  pests, use traps, vacuums, gels and baits. If pesticides
  are necessary, use spot treatments rather than area-wide
               United States
               Environmental Protection
               EPA 735-F-07-003