NPMA Responds to AAP's ‘Pesticide Exposure in Children’

NPMA Responds to AAP's ‘Pesticide Exposure in Children’

The association has provided an overview and speaking points about a recent American Academy of Pediatrics study asserting that pesticides have acute and chronic health effects on children.

December 3, 2012
Related: Warning - This Study Could Scare Customers

April 2011 PCT included the feature "Warning - This Study Could Scare Customers," in which PCT reviewed why pest management firms need to develop a communications plan that helps employees deliver the facts to their customers.

Editor’s note: The National Pest Management Association has provided an overview and speaking points about a recent American Academy of Pediatrics study asserting that pesticides have acute and chronic health effects on children.

On November 26, 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) posted a policy statement, Pesticide Exposure in Children, asserting that pesticides have acute and chronic health effects on children. The online article, will also run in the December 2012 print issue of its PEDIATRICS® journal.
The AAP states that children are exposed to pesticides (a collective term for chemicals intended to kill unwanted insects, plants, molds and rodents) every day and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity. According to the AAP, this exposure can have both immediate and long-term health implications as evidenced by "associations between early life exposure and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavior problems." The group also claims that these epidemiological findings are supported by related animal toxicology studies, which provide supportive biological plausibility.
•    The statement touches on diet, agricultural settings (spray drift, teen agricultural workers), unintentional ingestions and inhalational exposure.
•    It references that "there is no current reliable way to determine the incidence of pesticide exposure and illness in US children," and calls for improved physician education, biomarkers and diagnostic testing methods to better track pesticide exposure and acute illnesses.
•    Concedes that EPA labels contain information for understanding and preventing acute health consequences, but does not address chronic toxicity and labels are only in English. Labels also don't specify the pesticide class or list the "other"/"inert" ingredients that may have toxicity and can account for up to 99% of the product.
•    Mentions significant use of illegal pesticides and off label use, underscoring the importance of education, monitoring and enforcement.
•    States that IPM is  "an established but undersupported approach to pest control."
•    Urges pediatricians to become more knowledgeable in pesticide identification, counseling and management; Governmental actions needed to improve pesticide safety.
The policy statement has been summarized online with articles on Yahoo! News, and several more. We are closely monitoring this story to see whether it receives further attention by national and other local media outlets and we recognize it may generate inquiries from customers and/or employees.
NPMA Statement
"The professional pest management industry supports and has long advocated for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approaches to control household pests. IPM is more difficult and requires a thorough knowledge of pest biology and behavior. Treatment options in IPM can vary from proactive measures like sealing cracks and removing food and water sources to reactive measures, such as utilizing pest control products, when necessary.  It is important homeowners turn to pest professionals to eliminate a pest problem, because if pesticide treatment is necessary, professionals will ensure products are applied correctly, with minimal exposure, and in strict adherence to product labels.
Products used by the industry are registered by the EPA after it has reviewed extensive heath and safety data and made a determination that the product meets or exceeds the federal government's rigorous health standards. Consumers should feel confident that the application of these products is safe to both family and home when applied correctly by qualified and licensed pest professionals as directed on the product label.
The professional pest management industry's primary concern is for the health, safety and protection of its customers, the American public and especially our children. Common household pests pose significant health risks including the transmission of bacteria and disease, and can exacerbate respiratory issues such as allergies and asthma, particularly in small children. As such, pest control should not be taken lightly, but rather it should be handled in partnership with a licensed pest professional to properly identify, assess and treat the infestation. Consumers should discuss Integrated Pest Management solutions with their pest professional."
Speaking Points
•    IPM is a process involving common sense and sound solutions for controlling pests by helping to eliminate sources of food, water and shelter. Pest professionals work with customers every day to find the best strategy for dealing with pest problems - which often times isn't the simplest solution.
o    Trained and certified pest professionals never employ a "one-size-fits-all" method when faced with an infestation, but rather utilize a three-part practice: inspection, identification and treatment, and always in partnership with the customer.     
•    The professional pest control industry and the products used by pest professionals are highly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as state agencies.  The EPA regulates pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). 
o    Each of these acts has put in place requirements and protections to ensure there are no unreasonable adverse effects on human health or environment as well as providing special protections for infants and children as they are recognized as a sensitive group.   
•    The professional pest management industry can confidently say that professional products used in the treatment of residential pest infestations are rigorously reviewed and registered by the EPA to be used by certified applicators for pest management. The National Pest Management Association works closely with the EPA to ensure that all products used in pest management are rigorously reviewed, re-registered and provided with accurate and comprehensive labeling for use.    
•    Additionally, licensed and trained pest professionals must keep abreast of any regulatory changes related to pesticides and their use in residential and commercial environments and must stop use of any products that are banned by the EPA.   
•    Professional pest management plays a vital role in protecting public health and property. Household pests pose serious risks to our health by spreading bacteria and disease, contaminating food and causing respiratory problems such as asthma. Some household pests can also severely damage property. Wood destroying insects eat away at a home's structural stability and rodents gnaw away at drywall and electrical wires, posing a serious risk for fires.
Additional background regarding FIFRA, FFDCA and FQPA
•    Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA registers pesticides for use in the United States and prescribes labeling and other regulatory requirements to prevent unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment.      
•    Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA establishes tolerances (maximum legally permissible levels) for pesticide residues in food.    
•    The 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) established a more consistent, protective regulatory scheme, grounded in sound science by:
o    mandating a single, health-based standard for all pesticides in all foods;   
o    providing special protections for infants and children;  
o    expediting approval of safer pesticides;   
o    creating incentives for the development and maintenance of effective products; and   
o    requiring periodic re-evaluation of pesticide registrations and tolerances to ensure that the scientific data supporting pesticide registrations will remain up to date in the future.
•    Additionally, FQPA dramatically changed the safety standards EPA uses in evaluating potential pesticide risks, especially to infants and children. Since FQPA was enacted, effective protection of children, already a priority, received additional emphasis through the addition of an extra tenfold Children's Safety Factor.  This additional factor is now standard in dietary risk assessments, unless reliable data support a different factor.
o    Other protective measures require EPA to assess the aggregate impact of exposure to pesticides in the food we eat and water we drink, along with exposures resulting from residential pesticide uses and other non-occupational sources of exposure. Finally, FQPA mandated that EPA's safety assessments consider the cumulative effects on health from exposures to multiple different pesticides that cause the same biological effects in humans.