Crop dusters are often used to spray organophospate pesticides on many crops.
The study measured pesticide residue in the urine of pregnant women working in the Salinas valley. Research showed the children whose mothers had the highest pesticide levels scored lower on IQ tests at the age of seven.
UC Berkeley Child Health Professor Brenda Eskenazi said, "It suggests that there may be a shift downward of IQ of children related to organophospate metabolized in the pregnancy and that shift might result in more children needing special services."
Sarah Sharpe is the Environmental Health Director for Fresno Metro Ministry and a member of Californians for Pesticide Reform. She said, "Unfortunately it really validates what some of our concerns have been for many years. This is a serious problem because it affects our school systems."
Sharpe said people should be very concerned with the results because many valley residents live in rural areas. "If you live in the San Joaquin valley you're not untouched by this because we live too close to the fields."
Fresno allergist Dr. A.M. Aminian said the wind often carries pesticide drift beyond valley farms. He urged those who live in the country to minimize their pesticide exposure, even taping your windows when fields are being sprayed. Dr. Aminian said, "We've always known these chemicals could cause some side effects especially if you have a constant exposure, repeated exposure over time."
UC Berkeley researcher Brenda Eskenazi said pregnant women should not stop eating fruits and vegetables. They should just make sure they wash them thoroughly. But the Alliance for Food and Farming said the study represents a snapshot in time from over a decade ago, when the research began.
It said the use of older, more stringently regulated pesticides in California has dropped almost 60-percent in during that time.