By Science Daily, June 20, 2013
Pregnancy and infancy are the periods of greatest vulnerability to the use of household insecticides. This is one of the findings of the first study of its kind to be carried out in Spain, which concludes that more than half of expectant mothers routinely use these chemical compounds.
The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, also considers the socio-demographic and lifestyle factors most strongly linked to the use of these pesticides.
In 2003 and 2008, the authors monitored the women who agreed to take part in the project from the beginning of their pregnancy until birth and during their offspring's first few years of life.
2% of women used other kinds of measures to control infestations in their bedrooms and 5% in the rest of the house. These other measures included cockroach traps, powder insecticide and chemical methods such as wave devices. Only 1% of women used insect repellents during pregnancy.
"Multiparous women, born in Spain, with a lower level of education, who have a garden, whose residence is near crops, and/or from Sabadell or Valencia are the most likely to use household pesticides," Llop asserts.
The main ways of being exposed to these substances are inhalation, skin contact and unintentional ingestion. In babies and children, ingestion of contaminated dust in the house is the most significant route of exposure to pesticides in the home.
The authors attribute this to babies spending more time at home and in general wearing fewer clothes than adults. In addition, their breathing zones are closer to the ground, where pesticide residue levels can be higher, and they are more likely to have close contact with plants, grass and other surfaces.
"Fetuses and children are especially vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their detoxification mechanisms and immune systems are not fully developed," Llop concludes.