Elemental sulfur is the most commonly used pesticide across Europe and the state of California, and although deemed safe for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it has been shown to cause eye, skin, and respiratory issues with farmworkers.
Sulfur’s effect on the health of people living near treated crops hadn’t been studied until recently, and researchers are finding a lot of information of how detrimental sulfur can be on the lung health of children.
A study was recently performed to see how sulfur could affect respiratory function in children, and it was found that it can lead to poorer lung function, higher chances of having respiratory issues, and an increased usage of asthma medication in those affected.
Dr. Rachel Raanan and her colleagues conducted research to see how children living near farms were affected by the pesticides that were used on crops.
The children that participated were enrolled in the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) study, which was to see how environmental elements and exposure to various substances affected children in San Salinas, California.
The mothers of the children responded to various questions about their children and what sort of health issues they displayed, with all 347 participants being 7 years of age. Out of this group, 237 of the mothers provided information about their child’s respiratory medications and proximity to agricultural fields treated with sulfur.
It was found that, out of the 237 children, 89.0% were born into immigrant families and 63.4% lived with at least one agricultural worker.
The researchers also discovered that children living within 1 km of a field treated with pesticides that contained sulfur had worse lung function and higher chances of needed medication for respiratory issues such as asthma.
The researchers said that “potential respiratory toxicity of elemental sulfur deserves more regulatory attention” due to the fact that pesticides that use sulfur are so common.