Limit Pesticide Use

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Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in and around your home.

Lawn pesticide image

Pesticides that are used to kill plants, insects, and rodents may also be toxic to humans.

Here are the facts:

Sources of Pesticide Exposure and Healthier Choices:

Instead of: Use:
Antibacterial SoapRegular Soap
Mothballs Lavender Sachets, Cedar
“Bug-free” Shelf Paper Butcher Paper
Anti-mold Wallpaper Paste Regular wallpaper Paste
Mold/Mildew Resistant PaintRegular, Low-VOC Paint

Safer Ways to Eliminate Household Pests

If you must use pesticides store them securely out of the reach of children, do not use outdoor pesticides inside the home, follow the directions closely, keep children and pets (and their toys) away from the application site, and thoroughly wash your hands when you have finished applying.

Get More Information:

Clapp RW, Jacobs MM, Loechler EL. Environmental and occupational causes of cancer: new evidence 2005–2007. Rev. Environ. Health. 2008;23:1–37.
This report chronicles the most recent epidemiologic evidence linking occupational and environmental exposures with cancer.

Infante-Rivard, C. & Weichenthal, S. (2007). Pesticides and Childhood Cancer: An Update of Zahm and Ward’s 1998 Review. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B: Critical Reviews, 10(1), 81-99.
Children are exposed to pesticides through a number of sources, including residential and agricultural applications. Parental occupational exposure to pesticides is also a concern because exposures occurring during pregnancy and carry-home residues also contribute to children’s cumulative burden. A number of epidemiological studies consistently reported increased risks between pesticide exposures and childhood leukemia, brain cancer, neuroblastoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Wilms’ tumor, and Ewing’s sarcoma. An extensive review of these studies was published in 1998 (Zahm & Ward, 1998). Fifteen case-control studies, 4 cohort studies, and 2 ecological studies have been published since this review, and 15 of these 21 studies reported statistically significant increased risks between either childhood pesticide exposure or parental occupational exposure and childhood cancer. Therefore, one can confidently state that there is at least some association between pesticide exposure and childhood cancer. However, an unambiguous mechanistic cause-and-effect relationship between pesticide exposure and childhood cancer was not demonstrated in these studies, and modifying factors such as genetic predisposition, rarely considered in the reviewed studies, likely play an important role. While the time window of exposure may be a crucial determinant for biological effects associated with pesticide exposure on children, studies have not contributed definitive information on the most vulnerable period. Accurate exposure assessment remains a challenge; future epidemiological studies need to assess gene-environment interactions and use improved exposure measures, including separate parental interviews, specific pesticide exposure questions, and semiquantitative exposure measures that can be used to confirm information obtained through questionnaires.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Household Product Database
Provides health and safety information on household products.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — Pesticides: Health and Safety
The information in this area provides an overview of EPA’s pesticide human health risk assessment processes. It also describes EPA’s efforts to reduce risks for workers and the public, as well as to protect the public from such pests as mosquitoes.

Contact the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute ( for updated information and evidence-based resources.