From: Robina Suwol
Date: 04 May 2004
Time: 03:32:37
Remote Name:


A Warning on Long-Term Use of Pesticides CTV News and Current Affairs Mon 26 Apr 2004 Time: 08:08:15 ET Network: CTV O'REGAN: Before you start hauling out the pesticides to control those unwanted bugs this summer, the Ontario College of Family Physicians is issuing a warning, asking Canadians to limit exposure to pesticides . And with more on the reason behind the warning we're joined by Dr. Douglas Cole from the University of Toronto. Good morning, sir. COLE: Good morning. O'REGAN: First of all, what prompted you to issue this warning? COLE: We spent about a year carrying out a review of studies of the health effects associated with pesticides . And we discovered lots of chronic conditions -- cancers, reproductive effects, effects on the nervous system like Parkinson's disease -- and we were concerned, particularly as we head into spring and summer. O'REGAN: But I thought that Health Canada tests pesticides excessively so that the ones we are using are okay. COLE: They certainly do. And much of that is based on toxicology studies. We were looking at human epidemiological studies which looks at groups of people who are using mostly mixtures of pesticides over lifetimes. And that's the kind of evidence we were looking at. O'REGAN: Now, the report says that people should avoid pesticides whenever and wherever possible. I mean, is that too excessive? Or is that reasonable, in your mind? COLE: We think it's reasonable, taking a precautionary approach. In other words, when we are concerned that there may be some health effects, particularly from mixtures of pesticides over time, we think it's best to reduce as much as possible -- you know, use other integrated pest management, use other ways of controlling weeds and insects and the like, before you turn to pesticides . O'REGAN: Dr. Cole, break it down for us. How much is too much? If you are getting three or four treatments on your lawn a year, I mean, how many years before you start seeing health effects either on yourself or your children? COLE: We would like to be able to answer that more precisely, but unfortunately the studies don't give us that kind of information that well. For example, a study done by a Montreal researcher, Claire Infante-Rivard, looked at leukemia in kids. And some of the kids who had a particular gene couldn't break down pesticides easily and reported home and garden use -- their parents reported home and garden use -- they had an increased risk of cancer. There didn't seem to be a whole lot of use, but we don't have decent quantification to give you some kind of threshold at the moment. O'REGAN: So, without decent quantification what we are really talking about here is more recaution than fact? COLE: Precaution is based on evidence. That includes facts. And extrapolation from the evidence with some kind of judgment, yes. O'REGAN: So what you are saying is, you know, for parents out there or anybody who takes care of their lawn, you are saying it's better to err on the side of caution. COLE: That's what we are saying. To reduce use as much as possible, and then if you have to use -- and we certainly understand that that happens -- use protective equipment and store your pesticides safely. O'REGAN: Dr. Cole, lastly, it's one thing to talk about residential lawns. What about farmers? What about people who are exposed to large quantities of pesticides over their lifetimes? COLE: Well, a lot of the studies we reviewed did involve looking at health risks of farmers. And farmers seem to be at greater risk because of that higher exposure. A lot of them have a lot of training now and certainly take precautions. But they also, we are advising them to move towards integrated pest-management approaches where they're using less pesticides as much as possible. O'REGAN: Dr. Cole, thank you very much. A lot of gardeners and farmers out there who are interested in your study. We appreciate it. COLE: You're very welcome. Length: 652 words Guest: Dr. Donald Cole, University of Toronto

Last changed: March 14, 2006