A study published in Neurology found a significant correlation between milk contaminated with pesticides and neurodegeneration.
An investigation into a 1980s case in Hawaii was the first indicator of a connection between a class of pesticides known as organochlorines to the thinning of nerve networks that decreases brain function.
The study involved the examination of 449 brains from Japanese-American men who had donated their organs to research upon passing for a heart disease study. Detailed dietary information of the donors included, of particular interest for the researchers, how much milk they regularly consumed.
Their findings showed that those who drank more than two glasses, or 16 ounces, of milk a day had more nerve thinning as well as a higher concentration of pesticide than the less frequent milk drinkers.
Even though there are no milk samples from the ’80s to analyze, at the time there was an incident involving cows being fed meals that contained pineapple pieces that were high in pesticide. It was confirmed that the milk from these cows was highly contaminated with the organochloride pesticides.
To make matters worse, this pesticide compound continues to be found in human breast milk.
In fact, the research news site for top universities, Futurity, reports that a recent study discovered a link between children exposed early in life to the similar organophosphate pesticide metabolites and a decrease in lung capacity.
The longitudinal study from the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) examined the urine of 279 children from California’s Salinas Valley with decreased lung capacity.
They determined that every tenfold increase in the concentrations of the pesticide was associated with a 159-milliliter decrease in lung function. To put this into perspective, that is about 8% less air use on average when doing something like blowing out a candle.
This deficiency in lung function is even comparable to exposure to secondhand smoke.
“This study adds exposure to organophosphate pesticides to the growing list of environmental exposures — including air pollution, indoor cook stove smoke, and environmental tobacco smoke — that could be harmful to the developing lungs of children,” said study lead author Rachel Raanan.
Even though organophosphate pesticides are still widely used, the researchers note that the residential use of this pesticide was fortunately phased out in the mid-2000s in favor of more natural pest control alternatives. However, this is only one step towards completely eliminating the risks posed by pesticides.