Scientists have found that low-level exposure to organophosphates (OPs) damages the brain and nervous system. 1. A meta-analysis (combining the results of many studies) found that at even at low levels, these OPs affect neurological and cognitive function. Memory and information processing speed was most affected. Derived from World War II nerve gas agents, organophosphate pesticides are the most widely used insecticides in the world. They are used extensively in agriculture, by the military and also for domestic purposes. How do they affect the brain and nervous system? They work by irreversibly blocking an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase that’s critical to nerve function in both bugs and people. Studies to date have focused mainly on organophosphates and neurological/behavioral function in children.
For example, a study conducted in children aged 8 to 15 years of age supports the hypothesis that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among US children, may contribute to to ADHD prevalence. 2. The neurotoxic effects of acute poisoning by organophosphates are well established. The possibility that low-level exposure causes ill health in humans has been controversial. This new meta-analysis finds a significant association between low-level exposure to organophosphates and impaired cognitive function. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want is to eat foods that have been sprayed with OPs that have the potential to negatively impact my memory! I need all the help I can get! The next time I go to the farmers’ market or grocery store and buy my organic produce, I will think of my brain health!
1. University College London – UCL. “Brain and nervous system damaged by low-level exposure to organophosphate pesticides.” ScienceDaily, 2 Dec. 2012. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.