Child Deaths in India Put Spotlight on Pesticides

Photo credit:ABC News

Many are raising questions about pesticides, following the deaths of 23 children in India who ate school lunches contaminated with the chemicals. However, experts in the U.S. say that the children didn’t show traditional symptoms associated with organophosphate poisoning, the suspected cause of death

Dr. Donna Serger, executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center and a professor of clinical emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University, explains, “They don’t appear to have had the classic clinical symptoms. Insecticides usually don’t cause sudden fainting and death… I think we need way more information to know how this happened.”

Organophosphates are commonly used in the U.S., so it’s important to make sure foods are pesticide-free before consuming them. To remove pesticides, the FDA recommends washing and scrubbing fruits and veggies with water rather than soap, disposing of the outer leaves of leafy veggies, and trimming fat from meat, poultry and fish before eating.

Symptoms for organophosphate poisoning include nausea and vomiting, a slowed heart rate, difficulty breathing, and blue lips and finger nails. The National Institutes of Health says there is an antidote, though, and those who respond to the treatment within the first few hours are usually fine and don’t typically have lasting side effects.

ABC News, 7/18/13

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