Researchers at the University of Montreal and Harvard University looked for organophosphate pesticide metabolites, an indicator of pesticide exposure, in the urine of 1,139 kids ages 8 to 15 and found that close to 95 percent had at least one of these chemical byproducts in their system. Those with the highest levels were 93 percent more likely to have received an ADHD diagnosis than children with none in their system. Those with above-average levels of the most common organophosphate byproduct — they made up a third of the whole group — were more than twice as likely as the rest to have ADHD.
So what fruits and vegetables are pesticides found in?
If you’re concerned, there is a wealth of information establishing just how many chemicals we consume, starting with the Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program, which tests thousands of food samples a year, tracking specific residue levels. According to its most recent report in 2008, for example, a type of organophosphate called malathion was detected in 28 percent of frozen blueberries, 25 percent of fresh strawberries and 19 percent of celery. “It’s easy to have a dozen exposures [to different pesticides] in the course of a day,” says Richard Wiles, senior vice president for policy at the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based environmental advocacy group .
‘A subset of the“obesity network” mapped by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler
Each dot, or “node,” represents one person (red borders indicate women; blue, men).The yellow dots represent obese people—those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more—and node sizes are proportional to BMI. Colors of “ties,” or links between nodes, indicate relationship type: purple for friend or spouse, orange for family. Note the visible clusters of obese people….’
The two men started publishing their findings with a splash: a 2007 article in the New England Journal of Medicine reporting that obesity spreads through social networks, as people are apparently influenced by friends’ weight gain to become obese themselves. More perplexing is their finding that obesity spreads through up to three degrees of separation. If a subject named a friend who was also in the study, and that friend’s friend became obese, the first subject’s chances of becoming obese were roughly 20 percent greater. Across one more degree of influence (husband’s friend’s friend or friend’s sibling’s friend—i.e., three degrees away), the risk was 10 percent greater. Weight gain appears to ripple through friend groups via some unseen mechanism such as altered eating or exercise behavior, or adjustment of social norms regarding weight.
The authors found similar patterns for happiness, loneliness, depression, alcohol consumption, the decision to stop smoking, and even divorce. “Our health depends on more than our own biology or even our own choices and actions,” they write in Connected. “Our health also depends quite literally on the biology, choices, and actions of those around us.”
We are our brother’s keeper, and our brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents, children, friends, colleagues, and neighbors are our keepers.