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Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill wrote the article about the new evidence on Tics and Toxins. It was written in July 2012. In the month of September 2011, schoolchildren at Leroy Junior-Senior high school were affected by tic disorder.
Eighteen students were affected and after tests, the State Health Department reported that they had symptoms of dust called Tundra. Although its effect is mild and is considered safer by the US than the original DDT, its use is not allowed in Europe because of its environmental effect.
How the Event Happened
The pesticide that was sprayed in a cornfield caused the outbreak of the tic disorder. This was in Western New York, Genesee County. Harris Farms managed the Cornfield whose owner was Donald Pangrazio.
The Cornfields in that region are sprayed twice a year and the effect of the pesticide was evident when the State Health Department confirmed the case in two students from two adjacent schools. In the process of spraying, the molecules of DDT and DDE spread cross to the softball fields.
The aim of spraying the cornfield was to kill earthworms. The pesticide kills the earthworms by destroying the nervous system. The investigation did not expose any environmental contamination yet a neurologist from a clinic within the vicinity diagonized the students with a conversion disorder.
This psychiatric condition causes emotional disturbance. Initially the political leadership of New York State backed this statement,
The Impact of the Event
The effect of what happened caused an immediate reaction from the government as the New York State banned the use of pesticides on all fields near school playgrounds. Parents of the children who were diagonized with illness resisted the diagnosis claiming that their children were not emotionally affected.
This however, did not stop the political leadership in New York State from taking action. According to Olmsted and Blaxill, the investigating agencies of the government did not do a good job.
The evidence they collected from the responsible authorities did not show any prove of testing the bifenthrin that is the modern pesticide. The focus was instead on the types of DDT that were banned long ago.
Much of the information relied upon by both the testing agencies and Olmsted and Blaxill, was given by Don Dessert a resident of Leroy township. At first, both the school and the government department of Environmental Conservation dismissed pesticides as the likely cause of the tic outbreak.
The reasons given for this overlooked the idea that the spraying of the fields took place at a time the region was receiving the highest amount of rainfall.
The decision by the government was because no pesticides had been sprayed on the ground since the use of DDT was banned. That was just an example of how the impact of toxicology can be quite challenging.
The despite the fact that a pool of water next to the playground was ignored during investigation was a sign that the investigation was not comprehensive. Furthermore, the results did not include testing of the current pesticides that are used.
All this important elements were overlooked when the Leader of Professionals Services announced the lack of evidence that linked the soil, water, and air around the school to the contaminated molecules. Mark you, the report was said be extensive.
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The parents, professional bodies, and the government agencies received enough media coverage to dispel the fact that toxicology was having an impact on earth. This was partly contributed by the nature of conversion disorder.
Some of the symptoms shown by the girls at LeRoy were similar to those shown by animals such as rats when exposed to bifenthrin at high doses.
Documented research from California on pyrethrins a chemical that is in the same class a bifenthrin could cause autism in pregnant mothers if they exposed to it.
Relations with Toxicology and How to Prevent the Event
I have never been in such a situation. However, the best way to prevent such an occurrence is to have the laws regulating the use of pesticides very precise. Genesee County for instance does not have such laws in place. Another way of preventing this effect is to use the information availed by scientists very well.
In a separate article, the Leader of Professionals Services documented that elements of DDT were found in two soccer fields (Winas, 2011).
The body however, quickly issued a statement to add that DDT was already banned in the US. Such contradictions are a cause for confusion as Toxicology takes effect. This might be realized when it is too late and therefore little would be done.
An independent medical diagnosis of the girls from LeRoy was accompanied by the report from the doctor cautioning that co-factors should not be ignored in such a case. The regulations should be enforced to make sure that those with agricultural farms put in mind the lives of other people.
The topic is directly linked to toxicology. The effect of Toxicology is cumulative. It has not been established how bifenthrin that affected the girls will influence them in future. Chances are not zero that since the girls are teenagers another effect is suppressed and it will surface later in life.
Winas, B. (2011). Environmental toxicants and the developing immune system. New York: Repro Toxicol abstract.