Is it safe to be exposed to pesticides?
A. While there's no concrete proof that normal exposure to these chemicals poses a significant risk to your baby, recent studies have suggested that larger quantities may harm the fetus. For instance, one study found that pregnant women who lived within a mile of locations where agricultural pesticides had been regularly applied were at increased risk for fetal birth defects. The takeaway: If you're a mom-to-be it's probably safest to avoid pesticides whenever possible. In addition to pesticides, don't use insect repellents that contain the chemical deet. Although its effects have not been thoroughly studied in pregnant women, there are some concerns about its toxicity.
However, if you must have your home or property treated with pesticides, follow the guidelines below:
- Steer clear. Have someone else apply the chemicals, and leave the area for the amount of time indicated on the package instructions.
- Be prepared. Before pesticide treatment, remove all food and utensils from the affected area, including those in your cabinets, closets, and drawers, if your kitchen is involved. Vacate your home for several hours and keep it well ventilated by opening windows. However, if pesticides are used outdoors, be sure to close all windows and turn off the air-conditioning so fumes won't be drawn into the house.
- Cover up. Wear rubber gloves when gardening to prevent skin contact.
- Clean up. Reduce your exposure by carefully washing or peeling store-bought produce.