Ontario doctors issue
By ROGER WARD
TORONTO (CP) -
Ontario's family doctors are strongly urging Canadians to limit their
exposure to pesticides after reviewing their "consistent" link with serious
College of Family Physicians made the recommendation after analysing
numerous studies connecting pesticide exposure to cancer, reproductive
problems, neurological diseases and other conditions, although at least one
pesticide-industry group immediately objected to some of the findings
released Friday by the doctors' association.
Dr. Donald Cole
of the University of Toronto, one of the review's authors, could not say
whether there's a safe level of exposure to avoid the risk of developing
"Pesticides as in
many chemicals are widespread in our environment, so we can't really say,"
he told a news conference.
But Cole was
convinced of a link between pesticide exposure and a variety of neurological
disorders, including mental and emotional health problems, and diseases such
Dr. Cathy Vakil
of Queen's University in Kingston, another review author, said the links
between pesticides and various forms of cancer are "compelling."
respect to cancer this review provides compelling evidence of a link between
cancer and pesticide use both occupationally and with home use," she said.
As a result, said
the doctors, people should avoid exposure to pesticides "whenever and
wherever possible," including using alternative methods of lawn and garden
care and indoor pest control, and properly using personal protection
equipment, including respirators, for home and occupational exposures.
"Many of the
health problems linked with pesticide use are serious and difficult to
treat, so we are advocating reducing exposure to pesticides and prevention
of harm as the best approach," said college researcher Dr. Margaret Sanborn
of Hamilton's McMaster University.
The college paid
particular attention to health concerns among children, although it noted
there have been few studies on the long-term effects of pesticides on
The doctors found
no clear link to any harm to the fetus in cases of pregnant women using the
insect repellent DEET, which is commonly recommended to prevent against
mosquito bites and potentially West Nile virus.
industry group responded to the Ontario doctors' report by saying several
regulatory rulings and expert panel reviews have cleared the chemical 2,4-D.
"The decisions of
several regulatory agencies and expert panel reviews simply do not support
the allegations that 2,4-D causes cancer or poses a risk to human health,"
said Donald Page, executive director of an industry task force representing
chemical companies in Canada, the United States, Australia and Argentina.
The task force
has said, for example, that the New Zealand Environment Risk Management
Authority published a finding that determined 2,4-D does not cause cancer.
Ontario physicians of ignoring some facts.
completely ignores decisions of authorities like the World Health
Organization and recent studies by the U.S. National Cancer Institute," he
Page: "Where we do find common ground (with Ontario physicians) is the need
to improve our understanding of the actual exposure of children and other
bystanders to domestic-use pesticides."
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