By Ferris Jabr for Scientific American:
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Chemicals derived from flowers may sound harmless, but new research raises concerns about compounds synthesized from chrysanthemums that are used in virtually every household pesticide.
For at least a decade, pyrethroids have been the insecticide of choice for consumers, replacing organophosphate pesticides, which are far more toxic to people and wildlife. But evidence is mounting that the switch to less-toxic pyrethroids has brought its own set of new ecological and human health risks.
About 70 percent of people in the United States have been exposed to pyrethroids, with children facing the highest exposure, according to a study published this month. Although the human health threats are unknown, animal studies have found evidence of damage to neurological, immune and reproductive systems.
In addition, pyrethroids are flowing off yards and gardens, contaminating some streams and rivers at concentrations that can kill small creatures vital to the survival of fish and other aquatic life.