Columbia UniversityChlorpyrifos was supposedly generally utilized in some neighborhoods until it was prohibited for use in US households by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2001. Apparently, it is still being applied as an agricultural pesticide on fruits and vegetables. Well, exposure to pesticide chlorpyrifos is seemingly linked to early childhood developmental delays. At least this is what a study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health claims.

The study investigated the connection between exposure to the pesticide and mental and physical damages in children living in low-income regions of New York City neighborhoods in South Bronx and Northern Manhattan. The study seems to signify that elevated chlorpyrifos exposure, more than 6.17 pg/g in umbilical cord blood during the time of birth could be linked to a 6.5-point reduction in the Psychomotor Development Index score and a 3.3-point drop in the Mental Development Index score in 3-year-olds.

Gina Lovasi, PhD, lead author and Mailman School of Public Health assistant professor of epidemiology, commented, “This study helps to fill in the gaps about what is known about the effect of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on the development of young children by showing that there is a clear-cut association between this chemical and delayed mental and motor skill development in children even when there are other potentially harmful environmental factors present.”

Out of the 266 children involved as study volunteers, around 47 percent were male, 59 percent seemed to be Hispanic of Dominican descent and roughly 41 percent were Black. Moreover, children living in neighborhoods with the maximum levels of poverty also encompassed lower test scores, a discovery that did not appear to be affected by pesticide exposure.

Young children apparently have higher exposure to pesticides as opposed to adults, as they are inclined to play on the floor or in the grass, regions where pesticides are usually used. Moreover, pregnant women exposed to pesticides may also expose their unborn children to the chemicals.

Those who advice for more restrictions on the use of pesticides, counting chlorpyrifos, challenge that such chemicals apparently float from treated agricultural fields to close by yards, homes and schools, posing a risk for pregnant women and children.

The study was published online in the American Journal of Public Health.