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Which type of insecticides persist in household dust, carpets, and kids?

You may wish to check out the February 25, 2014 Sacramento Bee news article by Edward Ortiz, "Insecticides linger in homes, study finds." In the Sacramento and Davis area, the University of California has found in a new study that the synthetic chemicals found in pyrethroid insecticides found in roach sprays, flea bombs, ant traps and pet shampoos persist indoors for years after use and collect in the bodies of both adults and children, for whom they may pose risks to each person's health, particularly children.

Which type of insecticides persist in household dust, carpets, and kids?
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

In the study, "Urinary Pyrethroid and Chlorpyrifos Metabolite Concentrations in Northern California Families and Their Relationship to Indoor Residential Insecticide Levels, Part of the Study of Use of Products and Exposure Related Behavior," recently published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, researchers tested participants from the local Sacramento and Davis area.

UC Davis looked at levels of pyrethroid insecticides in Northern California children in the Sacramento and Davis area

The results of the recent study revealed to UC Davis researchers that levels of the pyrethroid insecticides in a majority of the 173 children and adults tested from 2007-09 in local areas here, that is Northern California. The Sacramento Bee article explains that of those families, 22 of the study's participants came from the Sacramento city region, with 11 from Sacramento County, and five from Yolo County.

Kelly Trunnelle, postdoctoral scholar in environmental toxicology at UC Davis is the lead researcher of the study, according to the February 27, 2014 article, Controversies - Insecticide Chemicals Found in Two-Thirds of Homes Tested. Authors of the study are Kelly J. Trunnelle, Deborah H. Bennett, Nicolle S. Tulve, Matthew Scott Clifton, Mark D. Davis , Antonia M. Calafat , Rebecca Moran, Daniel J. Tancredi, and Irva Hertz-Picciotto. You can check out the abstract of the study.

Pyrethroids, which are synthetic chemicals, have been linked to respiratory ailments, heart palpitations, and nausea in farmworkers and have been identified as an endocrine disruptor in lab animals

You also may wish to check out the article, "Mass Honeybee Deaths Linked to Insecticide, by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov. Also noteworthy are articles such as "Pyrethroid Insecticides Increasing in People, Homes," Environmental Health News, and "Pesticides are Everywhere, and More Dangerous than You Realize,"by Shruti Ravindran, The Verge.

Children were getting higher levels of the insecticide chemicals in their systems

Insecticides used in household bug sprays have been found in two-thirds of individuals and homes tested by academic researchers. Pyrethroids, the main ingredient for household pest control products, appeared in the urine of more than 100 family members who participated in the University of California, Davis study, out of a total of 173 people.

Furthermore, 99% of floor samples taken from test homes and 65% of the study participants, all in Northern California, had traces of chlorpyrifos, a chemical banned for household use in 2001 because of the risks it poses to children’s brain development, notes the Sacramento Bee article which also mentions that chlorpyrifos are still allowed for use on crops.

The study revealed that 50 of 83 children and 58 of the 90 adults tested positive for pyrethroids

Pyrethroids, a manmade version of compounds found in chrysanthemum flowers, are used in more than 3,500 commercial products, including many kinds of insect repellants, aerosol bombs, pet shampoos, and lice treatments. It's usually in various types of shampoos for pets, but you'd have to take a look at the thousands of other commercial products containing those chemicals to realize that it's not just in pet shampoo, lice treatments, or inspect repellant.

High doses of the chemical can cause neurological effects, including dizziness and nausea. The consequences of low-dose exposures are mainly unknown. But in farmworkers, contact with pyrethroids also has been linked to nausea, as well as respiratory ailments and heart palpitations.

Researchers took wipe samples from floor surfaces of homes and also measured urine levels of mothers as well as children born between 2000 and 2005

The study found levels of multiple pyrethroids in 50 of 83 children tested, and 58 of the 90 adults tested. Exposure differed between mothers and children, and the study found the levels of the pyrethroids found in the floor samples are statistically related to what was found in the urine levels of the children tested.

The same correlation was not found with the mothers, revealing that a child is getting more pyrethroid exposure from the home environment. The levels in the mothers could have come from the outdoor environment or from insecticides on foods such as fruits and vegetables exposed to pyrethroid insecticides, used in farming that not specifically organic.

Other studies such as the one in 2008 study found that the pyrethroid esfenvalerate delayed the onset of puberty in laboratory rats. A UC Davis study that same year found mothers of autistic children had shampooed their pets with antiflea and antitick shampoos during pregnancy. In that study, the mothers reported they did so twice as much as mothers that gave birth to typically developing children, notes the Sacramento Bee article

Pyrethroids have various names such as bifenthrin, cypermethrin, and esfenvalerate

The botanical variant is called pyrethrin. Farmers who are not growing organic product use such chemicals for controlling pests and insects. Farmworkers with respiratory problems may have been exposed to such chemicals.

You can check out the issues from the California Department of Public Health. The problem for those exposed to the chemical is that in 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency found that pyrethroids do not pose any significant health risk concerns for children or adults. You also may wish to check out the article, "Walmart Fined for Misdemeanor Dumping of Hazardous Waste All over the State," by Ken Broder, AllGov California.

On the other hand, toddlers can be exposed to the insecticide embedded in carpeting

Another way of getting the chemicals into your system or your child's is from frequent foggers used to kill fleas or other insects. One of the big issues parents are concerned with is the neurological effects on the health of families, especially children because those chemicals last a long time in the home, even when the home is sold. Indoors, the chemicals have no way of degrading in sunlight.

So they last and are found indoors in the house dust, no matter how many times you clean, the chemicals keep appearing in the household dust, at least in the Sacramento area. One question to ask experts is at what level does the chemical make a difference in your health depending upon your age or size?

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