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Irva Hertz-Picciotto: Autism risk and exposure to agricultural pesticides in the CHARGE Study

this study was design, it’s actually part of this larger study we have
called the charge study “Childhood Autism Risks From Genes and the Environment” and of course we’ve
published a number of different findings over the over the last few years I and we wanted
to pick up on this theme: about pesticides and of course their different ways you
can be exposed to pesticides you can be exposed to pesticides because there’s residues in your foods, you can
be exposed to pesticides because you spray you’ve got problems pest at home insects what-have-you
your spraying for ants your putting out little baits or
your bringing in you know these foggers or some
professional services who often use the foggers and then you know that sprays into the
air it may settle on surfaces it may settle into the
house dust and get resuspended every time you can
walk around in your carpets. I and then there’s the applications that
may happen for commercial or agricultural purposes where there can be drift you know into
residential areas or you may live actually very close to fields where there might be regular
spraying and other kinds of applications so the latest study here was in fact looking
at families who have a child with autism
families who have a child with typical development and families have a child with a
developmental delay other than autism usually intellectual disability of
some type. We mapped their homes from when they
lived from from where they lived at the time
of the pregnancy and and around the time of birth and we were able to link those addresses to a database on all of the commercial
most to the commercial applications of pesticides in california
and we have a system where pesticide applicators are required to
report where they’re where they’re applying what they’re
applying the dates that they may be application and how how much they
actually apply. So it’s a lot of information and we you
know we do that linkage because it’s we have the locations and were able to
there for say you know people who are living roughly near these applications at the time when might say it was the
first trimester of the pregnancy or what have you. So what we saw was that there were
associations with several classes of pesticides it included organa phosphate pesticides. So organa phosphates are fairly
short-lived they don’t stick around too long at
least that’s what for the most part,
compared to some much longer lived ones that we use to use you know much more commonly in the 1950’s, 60’s and so forth so we have these more
short-lived organa phosphates and then we have another group called the
carbamates and then the third group were the
pyrethroids which are now more common used and all three of them had some
association with a higher risk for either autism or
for developmental delay. Other types of developmental delay. It’s actually this is actually a third
study that show some link with the organa phosphates and autism risk, but you know I think
it’s an area that people do need to think about both at the individual level if they can make some choices it may
be worth it to them you know I have certain things I
make choices about I don’t use chemical pesticides that are toxic I rely on the more you
know green approach. I’m willing to, I know it takes some
time for a bit longer to get rid of, you know if you do that. It might
take 2-3 days you can’t just eliminate them the same day sometimes when you put
out like the little baits or what have you and I’m willing to live
with that for an extra couple days where there might be
creepy crawly things.


  1. Clare Foode Author

    How is this not a violation of UC Davis' embargo of this study as reported by ISS here  It seems the whole point of embargoing a release is to give independent science media and academic reviewers time to provide input to prevent it from being "spun" without such review by the publishers or other sources who have been given access.

  2. UC Davis Health Author

    This video is an accompanies the news release for the study it references. It was briefly and unintentionally made public. There was no intent to comment prior to publication.

  3. UC Davis Health Author

    UC Davis MIND Institute study finds association between maternal exposure to agricultural pesticides, #autism in offspring, read more at

  4. Larry & Sheryl McCumsey Author

    We use Dursban within our city….I see on data sheets the half-life is 72 days in water where it is applied and that it is found in arctic ice (and many other forms of arctic media) dating back to 1972….so it can last for decades.  I think we are exposing our children needlessly to a very harmful product.


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