Bug Sprays and Cancer Risk in Kids

shutterstock_76768885This week the American Academy of Pediatrics published a news release warning against the use of insecticides in the home. A recent review of the research found that:

“Exposure to residential indoor insecticides but not outdoor insecticides during childhood was significantly associated with an increased risk of childhood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma…”

In the study, the scientists specifically looked at the use of foggers and spray insecticides in the home. One of the problems with bug spray, is that it doesn’t leave the environment very quickly. It can hang in the air and coat surfaces that children often come in contact with, such as the carpet and furniture.shutterstock_284538887

Children’s bodies are still developing and their ability to process the toxins from bug sprays are not as advanced as those of adults. A child’s liver does not break down and excrete the poisons from bug spray as effectively as an adult’s. This means the poisons remain in the blood and tissues for an extended period of time.

Outdoor bug sprays did not seem to have the same effect on children, probably because they quickly dissipate. There does seem to be a connection between childhood cancers and herbicides, though. More research is not being completed to better understand this issue.

If bug sprays are used, be sure to stay out of the area for the entire time recommended on the instructions. Cover the carpet and furniture when using foggers so that residual poisons are not being absorbed by children. Explore other ways to manage the bug problem than using poisonous substances.

The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed medical professional. It is essential that you discuss with your primary care provider any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.


Residential exposure to pesticide during childhood and childhood cancers: A meta-analysis, Chensheng Lu et al., Pediatrics, doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-0006, published online 14 September 2014

American Association of Pediatrics (2015) Children’s exposure to pesticide and childhood cancer. Retrieved from: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Children’s-Exposure-to-Pesticidesand-Childhood-Cancers.aspx

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