For years epidemiologists have seen hints of a link between pesticide exposure and autism. As of July 30, 2007, these days are over. Scientists working for the California Department of Health Services have found that pregnant women living near fields sprayed with the common insecticides dicofol and endosulfan were six-times more likely to give birth to children with "Autism Spectrum Disorders" (ASD) than women living many miles from treated fields.
Six-times higher risk - it is very rare for such a large and statistically significant difference to be found in a study of this kind. Plus, the authors report that the closer a mother lived to treated fields, and/or the more pounds of pesticides applied, the greater the risk.
These two insecticides are the last widely used organochlorines - the family of insecticides including DDT, chlordane, aldrin, and toxaphene, among others. Both are known endocrine disruptors, they are persistent in the environment, and bioaccumulate up food chains. Residues of these insecticides, in particular endosulfan, are common in conventional fruits and vegetables, especially imports. This study should compel the EPA to finally take decisive action to end exposures to these two insecticides.