Guillaume Simon: Member, Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board,Ministry of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs
FROM September 20 – 26, 2015 Saint Lucia will join the rest of the Caribbean in the observance of Pesticides Awareness Week – under the theme: “Protect Children From Pesticides”. During and post this recognized event, it is expected that persons will become more aware of the need to minimize the exposure of children to pesticides by ensuring the practice of some simple measures such as:
1) Proper handling of pesticides in the home
2) Proper storage of pesticides in the home
3) Washing all fruits properly before consumption
The National Academy of Sciences reports that children are more susceptible to chemicals than adults and estimates that 50% of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs during the first five years of life. According to EPA and the American Association of Poison Control Centers, every year more than 10,000 children are poisoned by rodenticides. Rat poisons are by far the leading cause of pesticide-related visits to health care facilitates in children under the age of six years and the second leading cause of hospitalization.
A 2010 study conducted by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences found certain foods eaten by children contained either an organophosphate or parathyroid pesticide, leading researchers to believe that government agencies may be under-estimating children’s dietary exposure to pesticides and, therefore, their inherent risks to children’s health.
It is incumbent therefore, that as consumers we pay particular attention to our more vulnerable ones, the children, in reducing their exposure to harmful chemical and toxic substances, particularly in the home. Simple preventative measures such as washing all fruits and vegetables purchased from the market or supermarket, spraying aerosols in a controlled manner and not subjecting children to inhalation, placing chemicals such as bleach, household cleaners, rat and ant poisons, among others, in areas beyond the reach of children will reduce their risk of exposure.
The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that over 30% of the global burden of disease in children can be attributed to environmental factors, including pesticides.
In keeping with the global theme for the commemoration of World Pesticides Day, the Consumer Affairs Department implores all consumers to exercise greater responsibility in their everyday use of pesticides in the home, in a manner which safeguards the health and lives of our vulnerable children. As consumers we all have a fundamental Right to Safety and the right to information: meaning that we have the right to be protected against products and services which are hazardous to life or health and to be given truthful and honest information on products or services in order to make informed choices and decisions. With those fundamental rights come contingent responsibilities such as following instructions on product labelling, or asking all relevant questions about products and their usage.
Consumer – Take Charge! Let us do our part in safeguarding our health and life and protecting our children from over exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals.