January 29, 1998

Overexposed || Organophosphate Insecticides in Children's Food: High Risk Pesticides

Analysis of more than 80,000 samples of food inspected by the federal government for pesticide residues from 1991 through 1996, revealed that 13 organophosphate insecticides were found in or on food by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The highest risk OP compounds are methyl parathion, dimethoate, chlorpyrifos, pirimiphos methyl, and azinphos methyl which account for more than 90 percent of the risk from OP insecticides in the infant and child diet.

Achieving a safe food supply for children, however, is not as simple as banning the five highest risk OPs. Home and other non-food uses must be considered, as well as the fact that other OPs will likely substitute for those that are banned in the first wave of standard setting. And most importantly, infant and child safety must be measured in terms of safety standards designed to protect these children, not in terms of the current adult-based standards.