Family physicians can counsel to prevent or reduce pesticide exposure in several settings:
In preconception and prenatal patient encounters, counsel to reduce pesticide exposure and help reduce negative birth outcomes, neurodevelopmental problems, and childhood asthma associated with prenatal pesticide exposure. History taking should focus on occupational exposures and indoor use of insecticides. Prevention of these effects has an extended benefit in reducing the frequency of adult chronic diseases associated with suboptimal birth outcomes.
Advise parents to minimize exposure of children of all ages by reducing use of indoor and home and garden pesticides. Home exposure is common and preventable: there are multiple pyrethroid-containing products still approved for indoor use, including flea and tick sprays (for pets and homes), scabies treatments for children, indoor insecticides for plants, and ant, earwig, bedbug, and spider insecticides.
Alert new parents to the risks of paraoccupational (i.e., take-home) exposures and the protective benefits of wearing personal protective equipment for patients that have unavoidable occupational exposure.
Educate patients in occupations at high risk of pesticide exposure about the health effects associated with these exposures; identify patients, such as those with asthma or COPD, who may have special vulnerability to pesticide exposure.
Consider becoming involved in community-based education and action in circumstances in which children are being unnecessarily exposed to pesticides. Earlier bans on pesticides with high health effect burdens, such as chlorpyrifos, have been shown to reduce health risks to children and reduce detection frequency in children and the environment.
(Summary from Beth McMahon, ED - Canadian Organic Growers)