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Pesticides and the Immune System

The Public Health Risks

Brings together an extensive body of experimental and epidemiological research from around the world documenting the effects of widely used pesticides on the immune system and the attendant health risks.

Executive Summary

Although some pesticides have been restricted or banned because they pose risks of cancer, birth defects, or neurological damage, little attention has so far been given to what may be their greatest risk: impairment of human and animal immune systems. According to this new report, there is considerable evidence that widely used pesticides may suppress immune responses to bacteria, viruses, parasites, and tumors, making people significantly more vulnerable to disease.

Pesticides and the Immune System: The public health risks brings together for the first time an extensive body of experimental and epidemiological research from around the world documenting the effects of widely used pesticides on the immune system and the attendant health risks. In so doing, it documents that pesticide-related health risks are much more serious than generally known, especially in developing countries where exposure is widespread and infectious diseases take a heavy toll.

The authors show that steps now underway to resolve this issue are far from adequate. If pesticides are undermining people's ability to withstand infectious and parasitic diseases -- still the world's main causes of death -- then pesticide policy must be profoundly altered. This report may be a path-breaking step in that direction.

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