Your Health

Your Health


Pesticides are poisons. The properties that make pesticides toxic to insects and weeds can also make them toxic to other forms of life, including us.

There are more pesticides on our food now than a decade ago, and we can’t just wash these pesticides off our food. Most non-organic food contains residues of multiple different pesticides.

More than 90 percent of Americans have detectable pesticides in their bodies, and government testing finds at least 29 different pesticides in the average American.

Pesticides don’t belong in our bodies

Decades of data shows that pesticides can disrupt and derail the healthy functioning of our bodies. Pesticide exposure is linked to cancers, asthma, neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and ADHD and to adult neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Exposure is also associated with reproductive disorders like infertility and other disorders related to the endocrine system.

Small exposures to pesticides matter

Consider the fact that chemicals prescribed by doctors to alter behavior, like the drug Ritalin, are active at levels that are the same or lower than some pesticides detected in children’s bodies. We now know that small amounts of pesticides can act like drugs and alter our brain development, hormones, immune systems and more. Chemicals that affect our hormone systems, called endocrine disrupting chemicals, can be especially problematic at very low doses.

Over 50 pesticides are associated with endocrine disruption. Endocrine disrupting chemicals can scramble, block or mimic the cellular mechanisms responsible for developing and managing the body’s reproductive, neurological, metabolic or immunological systems. Endocrine disruptors are associated with hormone-influenced cancers such as thyroid, breast and prostate, as well as learning disabilities, brain development problems, birth defects, obesity, diabetes and reproductive disorders.

Cumulative exposures add up

Scientists are just beginning to understand how our real-life exposure to multiple pesticides impacts our health. One study found that approximately 40 percent of children may be exposed to a cumulative amount of nerve agent pesticides called organophosphates at levels beyond those associated with neurological harm like ADHD and learning disabilities.

Organic food reduces the amount of pesticides in your body

An organic diet is a scientifically proven way to reduce exposure to pesticides and can help protect your health. Organic farmers produce abundant food without the use of an estimated 17,000 pesticide products approved for use in conventional farming in the U.S.  An organic diet has been shown to reduce cancer risk by 25 percent and to improve fertility.

Health Impacts of Pesticides Detected in the Organic for All Study

Pesticide Class

Associated Health Problems


  • Developed during World War II as toxic nerve agent weapons.
  • So toxic to developing brains, even at extremely low levels of exposure, that scientists have called for a complete ban.
  • Associated with endocrine disruption, autism, learning disabilities, reduced IQ, attention disorders, delayed motor development, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, decreased sperm quality, and cancers.
  • Children ages 1 to 2 are exposed to chlorpyrifos, a pesticide in this class, at levels 140 times those deemed to be safe.


  • Food residues cannot be washed off because the pesticide penetrates the tissue of plants.
  • Among the most commonly reported pesticide residues in infant and toddler foods.
  • May affect the developing fetus and child, possibly leading to changes in behavior and attention, including an association with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Associated with endocrine disruption.


  • Associated with endocrine disruption, adverse neurodevelopmental, immunological, and reproductive effects.
  • Associated with learning disabilities and behavioral and attention problems in children, increased risk of Parkinson’s, and sperm DNA damage.

2,4-D Herbicide

  • One of two ingredients in the Vietnam War defoliant Agent Orange.
  • Among the top five most commonly used pesticides in the U.S.
  • Associated with endocrine disruption, thyroid disorders, damage to the liver, immune system, and semen quality, a 3-fold increased risk of Parkinson’s, increased risk of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and developmental and reproductive toxicity.

Glyphosate (aka Roundup)

  • Probable human carcinogen; associated with increased risk of non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma in farmers and pesticide applicators.
  • Associated with kidney disease, fatty liver disease, shortened pregnancy, decreased sperm function, endocrine disruption, DNA damage, and disruption of the gut microbiome.
  • The most widely used pesticide in the world. Along with agricultural uses, it is also used extensively on yards, schoolgrounds, parks, golf courses, and other public places.
Fetal development, infants and children

Babies in the U.S. are born pre-polluted with pesticides. Research has found over 20 pesticides in infant umbilical cord blood, and nearly all children are exposed to pesticides through the foods they eat. 

This is concerning because children have unique susceptibilities to the harms of pesticides during fetal development and the early years of life. Their brains and bodies are developing so rapidly that small exposures can results in lifelong impacts. They can increase the risk of autism, birth defects and asthma, permanently decrease a child’s IQ and lead to cancers in childhood or later in life.

Children also have greater exposure to pesticides than adults because they eat and drink more per pound of their body weight than adults, and they consume more foods that have higher amounts of pesticide residues like fruits, fruit juices and milk.

Creating a food system where organic is for all is essential to protecting the health of future generations.