Environment affecting children?
Children are the foundation of any country, and healthy children are the mainstay in the progress of a nation. The past few decades have seen a drastic rise in health-related issues in children, which can to a great extent be contributed to the changing food choices available in the market. Recent researches have proven that the food available in the markets today is laced with pesticides which pose deleterious effects on the health of the children.
Children are more affected than adults
Children have a different metabolism from adults- in utero and after birth. They are less able to detoxify chemicals and the chances of these chemicals crossing the blood-brain barrier, deposition in liver and nerve degeneration is very high. The recent research conducted has shown that even when small traces of pesticides like organo-chlorine, organo-phosphorus, carbamates, synthetic pyrethroids etc are present. They cause a harmful exposure for children and make them prone to learning disabilities, hormonal imbalances, Diabetes, cancer and neuro-psychological disorders like Autism and ADHD.
Where are the pesticides?
The pesticide residues are found in fruits (maximum in Mango, Apple, Banana, Grapes, Orange, Pear, Guava and Pomegranate), vegetables (maximum in Brinjal, Okra, Tomato, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Green Chilli, Coriander leaves, Cucumber and Capsicum), Meat, wheat and other crops, and Spices and condiments (maximum found in turmeric, cumin seeds, red chilli powder and fennel). This exposure to pesticides remains even after thorough washing of the fruits and vegetables or good cooking practices.
Conventional farming includes the use of pesticides which is the main source of pesticide consumption. Other important ways children take in pesticides:
- Yet to be born:When an unborn child is exposed to chemicals when in the womb — as the brain is under construction or organs are taking shape — the normal developmental process can be hampered and may lead to sometimes irreversible effects. Parental consumption before conception could also be an important path of exposure.
- When at home or at a day-care center: If pesticides are used in homes, lawns or gardens where an infant or toddler is exploring the world, exposure is a near certainty. In a rural setting, the child may be exposed to these pesticides if they are used in nearby farms.
- When inside schools or in a playground:Use of toxic chemicals to control pests in schools, and on playing fields can make the school environment less than safe for growing bodies and developing minds.
Pesticides and Farming
The use of pesticides during farming pollutes the soil and water sources and hence, creating a vicious cycle where the contaminated water is again used for agricultural purposes and hence increasing the percentage content of pesticides in the soil as well as in the crop.
What do FSSAI guidelines say
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed regulations for heavy metal content in a whole range of food items including vegetables to hold traders accountable and also to encourage the farmers to follow more responsible farming techniques and adopt good agricultural practices.
The presence of chemicals in the food poses risks for children which lead to these children braving life-changing disease-but “children shouldn’t have to be that brave.”