Chronic exposure to a widely used pesticide may delay sexual maturity in boys, according to a new study in India.
Endosulfan is an organochlorine used around the world to protect squash, melons, strawberries, and other produce. A 2001 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 1.4 million pounds of the pesticide are used annually on U.S. crops. It's also the third most commonly used pesticide in India, where concerns about endosulfan have surfaced.
For example, for irrigation water and fish, the southern Indian town of Padre relies on streams that run through a cashew plantation where the trees had been sprayed with endosulfan a few times a year for 2 decades until December 2000. Residents then demanded that the spraying stop because they suspected it was increasing the local rates of several cancers and neurological diseases.
"Because of the particular topography, people were exposed to high concentrations of endosulfan," says Habibullah Sa