Here’s another reason to go organic: A new study of nearly 10,000 rural China residents has found that people with higher levels of pesticide exposure are more likely to have suicidal thoughts. According to the study, the agricultural pesticides commonly used in China are organophosphates, which are in wide use in many lower-income countries but have been banned in many Western nations. One exception being the United States, which has yet to ban all organophosphates. However, the U.S. EPA did recently announce plans to limit the use of some organophosphates in order to protect endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead fish in certain states.
Organophosphates are certainly dangerous if ingested and are sometimes used in suicide attempts, but researchers are now looking at the mental health risks of prolonged exposure—in other words, whether storing pesticides at home is related to the possessor’s suicidal notions. Apparently, this is the first population study to suggest the possible effects of organophosphate pesticides on suicidal thoughts.
Sure, the findings are a long way from showing that, say, eating conventional produce that had been sprayed with pesticides can damage mental health, but it’s an area of research to keep an eye on.