EHS Center Member Update

Center Director, Irva Hertz-Picciotto testified on chronic neurodevelopmental effects of pesticides at a Hearing of the California Senate Committee on Environmental Quality on new regulations proposed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). The new regulations would impose limitations on pesticide applications near schools, and were created in response to a 2014 report from a study by the California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP), Agricultural Pesticide Use Near Public Schools in California. The 15-county study looked at over 2500 public schools and found that although a majority of the schools (64%) did not have any pesticides of public health concern applied within a quarter mile of the school property, more than half a million pounds were applied nearby the over 1/3 of schools that did. Moreover, the schools located within 1/4 mile of pesticide applications were attended by a higher proportion of Hispanic children. The proposed regulatory action by DPR would require growers to notify public K-12 schools, child day care facilities and county agricultural commissioners about planned pesticide applications near school sites and some types of pesticide applications would be prohibited during certain times. Laura Van Winkle has been invited to serve as an associate editor for the journal Toxicological Sciences, the official journal

Carolyn Slupsky, PhD – Department of Nutrition

Maternal Metabolome, PON1 Status, Organophosphate Exposure and Childhood Autism With the rapid rise in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses over the last three decades, identification of the causes and mechanisms of this condition is urgently needed. Building on recent findings that children prenatally exposed to pesticides have an increased risk of an ASD diagnosis, serum from children was previously analyzed. A distinct metabolic pattern was found in children with ASD who were exposed to pesticides in utero that revealed associations with insulin regulation. Given the correlation between insulin resistance and decreased activity of paraoxonase 1 (or PON1, an enzyme involved in detoxification), we hypothesize that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy coupled with reduced maternal PON1 activity is associated with the metabolic health of the mother and the neurological outcome and metabolic health of her child. Most of the evidence about environmental factors in autism provides sparse information about the biologic mechanisms of neurodevelopment. This project seeks to generate preliminary data on perturbations in basic biochemical pathways and reduced PON1 status as a consequence of pesticide exposure, and its association with autism in children.