Pesticides lower intelligence

Exposure to pesticides lowers the intelligence quotient (IQ) of children, claims a US study.

Conducted by researchers from the University of North Dakota (UND) in the US, the study examined two groups of 64 children each, aged 7-12 years. One group comprised of children living on or near farms and the other of children living at least one-and-a-half km away, who had lower chronic exposure to pesticides. Both the groups took standard IQ tests.

The scientists found that children living on or near farms had, on an average, an IQ score of 98, while the other group performed better, scoring 103. The difference was significant, according to Patricia Moulton, an experimental psychologist at UND, and one of the researchers, though both the scores were within the normal IQ range of 85-115.

"That's just the raw IQ,' Moulton said of the findings. "We're going to look at a dose-response relationship. We're going to be able to associate the test scores with (pesticide) concentrations in the blood and urine.'

Children living on farms also had lower scores in verbal comprehension, visual perceptual reasoning, memory and mental processing speed, the study found. Preliminary results of the study were released recently.

Moulton said though pesticides played an important role in agriculture, the use of non-toxic pesticides should be encouraged wherever possible.