[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Skip to Main Content

Latest News

Advertise Here
June 15, 2010
DOI: 10.1021/cen062410144754

Household Insecticides Appear In Umbilical Cord Blood

Chemical Exposure: The presence of "non-persistent" pesticides suggests that pregnant women experienced recent or chronic exposure

Quinn Eastman

Pesticides and Babies: Newborns show exposure to the pesticides bendiocarb (left) and cis-permethrin
Pesticides and Babies Newborns show exposure to the pesticides bendiocarb (left) and cis-permethrin.
  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Latest News

October 28, 2011

Speedy Homemade-Explosive Detector

Forensic Chemistry: A new method could increase the number of explosives detected by airport screeners.

Solar Panel Makers Cry Foul

Trade: U.S. companies complain of market dumping by China.

Novartis To Cut 2,000 Jobs

Layoffs follow similar moves by Amgen, AstraZeneca.

Nations Break Impasse On Waste

Environment: Ban to halt export of hazardous waste to developing world.

New Leader For Lawrence Livermore

Penrose (Parney) Albright will direct DOE national lab.

Hair Reveals Source Of People's Exposure To Mercury

Toxic Exposure: Mercury isotopes in human hair illuminate dietary and industrial sources.

Why The Long Fat?

Cancer Biochemistry: Mass spectrometry follows the metabolism of very long fatty acids in cancer cells.

Text Size A A

Common household insecticides reached detectable levels in the blood of the majority of babies born at an urban hospital, new research in Environmental Science & Technology (DOI: 10.1021/es1009778) reports.

The researchers studied the "non-persistent" pesticides bendiocarb, propoxur, and permethrin, which are common consumer products for lawns, backyards, and indoor pest control. Because scientists think that they disappear from the human body within a few days, the new finding suggests that the pregnant women received regular, chronic exposure, which may perturb fetal development, or that they were exposed shortly before childbirth -- perhaps even in the hospital, the authors speculate.

The study is one of the first in the U.S. to analyze cord blood, and thus to assess in utero exposure. Previous studies of permethrin, for example, monitored pregnant women who used it to treat scabies or head lice, and assumed fetal exposure without measuring it. The studies found no adverse health consequences for the babies.

Lynn Goldman and her colleagues at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed umbilical cord blood from 185 children born at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 2004 to 2005. Using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry the researchers detected the carbamate insecticides bendiocarb and propoxur in 73 and 55 percent of cord blood samples, while they found trans and cis isomers of permethrin in 52 and 41 percent of samples. They also tracked organophosphate pesticides such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon, as well as DDT, chlordane, and their metabolites.

"We can see that they've been exposed, but we don't know if there are health consequences," says first author Gila Neta, an epidemiologist who is now at the National Cancer Institute.

Using principal component analysis, a statistical method to identify pesticides and metabolites that tend to appear together, the authors found that newborns rarely received exposure to both permethrin and carbamates. Permethrin levels were higher among infants of mothers who did not complete high school, possibly because of pest problems in their homes. The authors found higher DDT levels among babies from Asian mothers than from babies with Caucasian mothers. The researchers think that recent DDT use outside the U.S. may explain this result, since a majority of Asian mothers in the study were immigrants.

The results, says Donald Wigle, an epidemiologist at McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment at the University of Ottawa, point to questions that could be resolved by the mammoth National Children's Study. The study, among many other goals, plans to look at pesticide exposure patterns and their possible effects on pregnancy and child health.

More On This Topic

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Services & Tools

ACS Resources

ACS is the leading employment source for recruiting scientific professionals. ACS Careers and C&EN Classifieds provide employers direct access to scientific talent both in print and online. Jobseekers | Employers

» Join ACS

Join more than 161,000 professionals in the chemical sciences world-wide, as a member of the American Chemical Society.
» Join Now!