A new study draws a link between exposure to two pesticides and gynecological disorders in women. The report was published by researchers at the University of Washington on November 4 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The authors of the paper found that women who were exposed to beta-hexachlorocyclohexane and mirex were more likely to suffer from endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus grows outside of it and causes pain and even infertility.
"Since endometriosis is an estrogen-driven condition, we were interested in investigating the role of environmental chemicals that have estrogenic properties, such as organochlorine pesticides, on the risk of the disease," Kristen Upson, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said in a news release. "We found it interesting that despite organochlorine pesticides being restricted in use or banned in the U.S. for the past several decades, these chemicals were detectable in the blood samples of women in our study."
Although the study's authors were careful to point out that this doesn't necessarily mean there is a direct cause and effect relationship between the pesticides and endometriosis, it's still a troubling finding. The case against pesticide use has been building for decades, largely because of its affect on public health, in addition to the disastrous consequences for eco-systems. As the Pesticide Action Network points out, these chemicals are becoming more prevalent because farmers have had to increase their reliance as pests develop immunity and defenses against the chemicals
Furthermore, what this study points out is that even after such substances are banned, they can have serious affects on humans long after they've been removed from use. It's another reminder that if the United States wants to make progress on developing more sustainable agriculture, it needs to start now, and not later.