Are Pesticides Lowering Our Intelligence?

I’ve been studying the effects of toxic industrial chemicals and heavy metals for 25 years and with greater intensity for my upcoming brain health book, 60 Seconds to Boost Your Brain Health (Rodale, 2015) and came across some fascinating research originating from Harvard’s School of Public Health. Published in Lancet Neurology, Philippe Grandjean, MD and Philip Landrigan, MD assessed five chemicals and metals known as “neurotoxicants” which are substances that are toxic to the brain and nervous system.  This study follows their earlier study of 6 other neurotoxicants.

While the study is packed with impressive research and results and is definitely worth a read, I was particularly astounded by the doctors’ assessment of the intellectual and economic implications of pesticide exposures since this is a little-explored area to date. The researchers analyzed the effects of a group of pesticides known as “organophosphates.”

After assessing the effects of typical organophosphate exposure in children aged 0 to 5, the Harvard researchers found that this class of pesticides caused a collective drop in IQ of 16,899,488 points.  Worse than that, they indicate that “Because brain functions develop sequentially, the full effects of early neurotoxic damage might not become apparent until school age or beyond.”

Because early childhood exposure to pesticides through playing on sprayed lawns and eating produce containing the toxins can result in a loss of cognitive skills, the exposure reduces these children’s intellectual and economic potential.  Obviously the health implications to children (and potentially adults as well, since this study only explored the effects on children) is of serious concern.

But it isn’t the only concern: after assessing the full economic impact, the scientists estimated that for each loss of one IQ point a persons estimated lifetime earnings capacity also dropped by USD $18,000 or €12,000

Earlier studies like the one published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives established a link between pesticide exposures and autism.

With the mounting evidence of the health, social, environmental, and economic implications of our continued use of toxic pesticides, isn’t it time for a total ban of these toxic substances?

Check out my earlier article “Scientists Declare ‘Bee Killing Pesticides Must Be Banned’” to learn more about some of the environmental implications of pesticides.

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Barb Hansen
Ba H4 years ago

no just lack of motivation

JL A4 years ago

reason to be concerned indeed

Andreas Ioannou

I believe that most of the chemical substances widely used nowadays e.g. fluoride ars intentionally used exactly for this purpose as well as population control.

philippe r.
Past Member 4 years ago

Yep !!!

When i look around, sure it had already fried somes brains, for sure ;)

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa4 years ago

Thank you

Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Francesca A-S
Past Member 4 years ago

Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams4 years ago


Anna Wang
Anna Meng Wang4 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O4 years ago

It's definitely a possibility since as of late they have been doing much more harm than good. Thanks Michelle.