Belgian bedrooms contain as many as 23 different harmful pesticides, according to a study by the action group Velt, which campaigns against the chemicals.
Velt (Association for Ecological Living and Gardening) is behind the anti-pesticide campaign Red Bijen en Boeren (Save Bees and Farmers). It carried out a study involving testing bedrooms across Europe for the presence of harmful pesticides.
The study covered 21 European countries and detected a total of 24 pesticides. Belgium tested positive for 23 of them.
"These results are worrying," said Geert Gommers, pesticides expert at Velt. The source of the problem, he suggested, is intensive agriculture.
When the land is being forced to produce more crops than the seasons would allow and monoculture is the predominant trend, then crops are highly vulnerable to attack from pests that could ruin an entire crop.
Then the farmer turns to pesticides to resolve a problem created by the industry itself. Meanwhile, chemicals companies are happy to oblige, given the huge market there is for their products.
But if members of the public living in the vicinity of farms come in contact with these pesticides – without realising and without the protective equipment used by farm workers – the result can be harmful, even leading to fertility problems and cancer.
In the study, it was found that 17 out of 21 samples found had adverse effects on fertility or the health of the foetus. One in four was potentially carcinogenic.
"Babies crawl all over the floor in their bedroom. In the countryside, they come into constant contact with hormone-disrupting or potentially carcinogenic pesticides via dust. That is unacceptable," Gommers told the VRT.
The researchers point out that the results only apply to the specific locations where the samples were taken. So it is not possible to draw general conclusions for an entire country based on the test results.