Protect Children from Pesticides: UN picture book warns of dangers to children

| May 25, 2015

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Nearly 100 million children between the ages of five and 17 work on farms, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO warns that many children are directly exposed to toxic pesticides while working, whilst others come into contact with pesticides when playing outside, or through the food they eat.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, children are particularly vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their still-developing organs are less able than those of adults to remove the chemicals from their bloodstreams.

ILO and FAO have published a new picture book in English, French and Portuguese. The book shows how to best handle the toxic pesticides that many of these children are exposed to in their farm work. The organizations are distributing the book to rural teachers, farm workers and producer organizations to help reduce the risks of children being exposed to pesticides, and to help identify signs of pesticide poisoning. It is also available online.

In the book, an image marked “DANGER” shows a woman and child with sores on their arms and legs and without protective gear. They are pouring pesticides onto crops out of plastic bowls. Another page warns, “Do not let children clean equipment used to apply pesticides.” Above a picture of a woman washing vegetables in a large bowl, another page reads, and “Ensure that food grown where pesticides have been used is washed thoroughly before cooking or eating.”

According to Christine Fuell of the FAO, “The colourful illustrations are built on local knowledge and refer to … real situations. They also appeal to children, raising their own awareness of the risks posed by pesticides.”

You can use the book as a tool to promote discussion on safe working practices for children on farms, as well as food safety in the home.

To read the book online, or to download and print, go to: