Children and Pesticides

Think before you spray or are anywhere that you do not see a reassuring sign that tells you it is a "PESTICIDE FREE ZONE"

Infants and children are more sensitive to the toxic effects of pesticides than adults. • An infant's brain, nervous system, and organs are still developing after birth.
• When exposed, a baby's immature liver and kidneys cannot remove pesticides from the body as well as an adult's liver and kidneys.
• Infants may also be exposed to more pesticide than adults because they take more breaths per minute and have more skin surface relative to their body weight.
• Children often spend more time closer to the ground, touching baseboards and lawns where pesticides may have been applied.
• Children often eat and drink more relative to their body weight than adults, which can lead to a higher dose of pesticide residue per pound of body weight.
• Babies that crawl on treated carpeting may have a greater potential to dislodge pesticide residue onto their skin or breathe in pesticide-laden dust.
• Young children are also more likely to put their fingers, toys, and other objects into their mouths.
 If you choose to use a pesticide, keep these tips in mind to minimize risk to infants and children: Because of this, it is important to minimize your child's exposure to pesticides. One way to minimize exposure to pesticides is to take an approach called Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is a pest control strategy that uses a combination of methods to prevent and eliminate pests in the most effective and least hazardous manner.
Tips to prevent exposure if you use pesticides • Always be sure to read the product label first. The product must be approved for the intended use and applied according to label directions.
• Seek the least-toxic pesticide option available. Use the signal word to identify products that are low in toxicity.
• Keep children out of treated areas while pesticides are being applied, and until areas are dry. The product label may have more specific instructions.
• Allow plenty of time for the pesticide to dry and the home to ventilate before returning.
• If your lawn or carpeting has recently been treated with pesticides, consider using shoes, blankets or another barrier between the treated surface and children's skin.
• Be sure children wash their hands before eating, especially after playing outdoors.
• If you apply pesticides to your pets, be sure to keep children from touching the pet until the product has completely dried.
• Place ant, snail and rodent baits in locked bait stations or safely out of reach of children.
• Never use mothballs outside of sealed, airtight containers. Children often mistake mothballs for food when used improperly around the home.
• Never use illegal pesticides, such as Miraculous, Pretty Baby or Chinese Chalk. It looks and writes like normal chalk, and the pesticide dust can be breathed in, get on kids' hands or end up in their mouths.
• Be sure to store pesticides in their original containers. Never use food or beverage utensils or containers to mix or store pesticides.
• Store all pesticides out of the reach of children.
• If someone in the household works with pesticides, take steps to reduce the amount of pesticide residues they bring into the home. If possible, wash and dry the work clothes separate from family laundry.
• Call NPIC to learn more about the toxicity of pesticides and ways to minimize exposure.
Reseources • Protecting Children's Environmental Health - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
• Protecting Children from Pesticide: Information for Parents
• EPA Publications to Help Protect Children - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
• Play it Safe: Reduce Your Child's Chances of Pesticide Poisoning - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
• Poison-Proof Your Home: One Room at a Time - US Department of Health & Human Services
• Ten Tips to Protect Children From Pesticide and Lead Poisonings Around the Home - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
• Don't Play Around with Children and Pesticides - California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR)
• Warning Issued on "Chalk" Pesticide: Danger to Children - California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR)
****If you have questions about any pesticide-related topic, please call National Pesticide Information Center NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at
CHAMACOS study Watch the video and read about the CHAMACOS study with Brenda Eskenazi, PhD as she follows a cohort of some 600 children born in the “bread basket” of the USA where pesticides are in heavy use.

The Negative Effects of Pesticides on Children Because their body mass is so much lower than adults', toxicity testing fails to adequately take into account the negative effects of pesticides on children.
By André Leu
November 2014

Toxic Action Center Read this article about “The Problem with Pesticides.” Following is just one paragraph from that article to encourage you to read more.
Pesticides and Children
Children are particularly susceptible to the hazards associated with pesticide use. There is now considerable scientific evidence that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 12, and childhood exposure to some of the most common pesticides on the market may greatly impact the development of the central nervous system. Children have more skin surface for their size than adults, absorb proportionally greater amounts of many substances through their lungs and intestinal tracts, and take in more air, food and water per pound than adults. Children have not developed their immune systems, nervous systems, or detoxifying mechanisms completely, leaving them less capable of fighting the introduction of toxic pesticides into their systems.
Many of the activities that children engage in - playing in the grass, putting objects into their mouth and even playing on carpet - increase their exposure to toxic pesticides. The combination of likely increased exposure to pesticides and lack of bodily development to combat the toxic effects of pesticides means that children are suffering disproportionately from their impacts.

Health Effects of Pesticides

Read the complete list of healt problems for children caused by pesticides at this link