Living Within 2.5 Miles of Chemical Farming Increases Risk of Childhood Brain Tumors

April 6, 2021 | Pregnant women living within 2.5 miles of agricultural pesticide applications have an increased risk that their child will develop central nervous system (CNS) tumors, according to a study published in Environmental Research by a team at University of California, Los Angeles. The results are particularly concerning as they reveal that individuals do not have to be in close contact with pesticides for risky, health-harming exposures to occur. “This transition from farmland to residential neighborhoods is abrupt across California, and, of course, constantly changing as farmland is developed,” said study coauthor Myles Cockburn, PhD. “The simplest way to mitigate these risks is by reductions in exposure to pesticides, through restrictions to aerial spraying and air blast that lead to increased drift, and by farming methods that decrease reliance on pesticides.” Researchers note that the present study is unique in that it was able to pinpoint the specific pesticides related to the development of specific types of tumors. To make these determinations, scientists made use of California’s Cancer Registry records. Diagnosed children ages 0–5 were matched to maternal residences where pesticide applications were made within 4000 meters (~2.5 miles). Pesticide application records were obtained from data recorded by California’s public agencies, as California is one of the only states that require pesticide use reporting to a centralized database. Results show that some pesticides increase the risk of certain childhood CNS tumors by 2.5 times compared to an unexposed child. [Lombardi Christina et al. Residential proximity to pesticide application as a risk factor for childhood central nervous system tumors. Environmental Research. 197: 111078, 2021.]