If you’ve cleaned up your diet, added exercise, and managed your stress on behalf of conceiving, congratulations. Now let’s look a little outside of yourself to your home and work — to chemicals in your work and home environments that interfere with hormone function.
California’s Department of Food and Agriculture has, recently announced a change in its approach to eradicating crop pests, in a way that steps up the use of pesticides. While crop productivity is important, due to California’s huge agriculture industry, this has significant implications for women in Los Angeles and other cities, far from the crops this move targets.
A recent study conducted in the California Central Valley reported that women who lived within 200 feet of an agricultural field or who used pesticides in their home, took longer to conceive. 402 women were asked about their use of and exposure to pesticides, and found that occupational-level exposure to pesticides rendered a woman 30 percent less likely to conceive in any given month than women who were not. Of course, if you’re eating the same foods that these workers harvested, you share some of the same risk. Though researchers conducted their study on farm workers, they did clarify that any exposure to pesticides, occupational or not, could have similar effects.
Another study, also conducted in California farm workers, reported that level of pesticide exposure during pregnancy was positively correlated with the incidence of developmental problems in children, particularly with regards to focus and attention span.
Many pesticide chemicals are endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with hormone function. Many of them have structures that are so similar to our natural hormones that they confuse the body and prevent real hormones from doing their job.
The debate on this issue can take awhile to settle. In the meantime, be sure to take care in as many ways as you can, to reduce your exposure to pesticides and pesticide residues.
One of the most important reasons to eat organic is to reduce exposure to pesticides and their health effects. If you do not buy everything organic, you can at least be aware of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables and invest your money organically when you wish to use those in your cooking. You can also wash your fruits and vegetables with vinegar to remove the pesticide residue.
Become aware of safe, natural pesticide brands such as EcoSMART, which is available at Albertson’s, Ralph’s, and Home Depots all over the Los Angeles area.
If you would like to learn more about safe ways to keep your home, garden, and hotel room pest-free, check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s web page for information and ideas.
Harley, KG, AR Marks, A Bradman, DB Barr and B Eskenazi. DDT exposure, work in agriculture and time to pregnancy among farmworkers in California. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 50(12): 1335-1342, 2008.
Rosas LG, Eskenazi B. Pesticides and child neurodevelopment. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2008 Apr;20(2):191-7. Review.