Monday, January 16, 2006

whether it proves a link or not

This study suggesting that the use of household insecticides and lice shampoos increases the risk of childhood leukemia should give folks pause. Not to cause panic, or further something that might prove untrue, but if there is a chance that there's a link, isn't it worth our cutting down on the use of these products? Particularly since they're not critical to good health?

I understand that, as the Leukaemia Research Fund (spelling's deliberate, they're British) notes, it was a small study and relied on parental memory, which can be inaccurate. Also, it's French, so the snarky bit of me wonders if the British are disinclined to accept it just on principle. But there's a reason we don't use DDT anymore, and as a DES daughter I am very sensitive to the prospect of man-made teratogens, mutagens, and carcinogens.

And there are other options to both types of products. Physical removal of human head lice is laborious but effective, especially on straight hair. Benefical insects are better for the garden than malathion anyway, and careful companion planting (basil with tomatoes, for example) will create an atmosphere that discourages infestation.

But we like our answers quick and simple. What a travesty it will be if it turns out that this tendency is killing our children.