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Home arrow News arrow Widespread Herbicide Use Linked to Teen Brain Function Decline

Widespread Herbicide Use Linked to Teen Brain Function Decline

HealthReporter author Nadzeya Sankovich
Written by Nadzeya Sankovich
Last update: October 11, 2023
1 min read 552 Views 0 Comments
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Widespread Herbicide Use Linked to Teen Brain Function Decline

Key Takeaways

  • A study led by researchers at the University of California San Diego shows that exposure to the popular herbicides glyphosate and 2,4-D, which are commonly used in agriculture and homes, may affect brain function in adolescents.
  • Researchers found that 98% of adolescents in an agricultural area in Ecuador had traces of glyphosate, with 66% containing 2,4-D. Higher levels of 2,4-D were associated with poor attention, memory, and language skills, while glyphosate correlated with lower social perception.

Scientists at the University of California San Diego have uncovered troubling links between common herbicides and a decline in brain function among teenagers. They looked at two common weed killers: glyphosate and 2,4-D.

In Ecuador, where these weed killers are extensively used, researchers studied 519 teenagers. What they discovered is alarming – nearly all of these teens (98%) had traces of glyphosate, and a significant number (66%) had detectable levels of 2,4-D in their bodies.

The scientists then assessed how well these teenagers’ brains were functioning, looking into areas like attention, memory, language skills, and social perception. 

The results were also troubling. Those with higher levels of 2,4-D didn’t perform as well in attention, memory, and language tasks. Similarly, higher levels of glyphosate were associated with challenges in understanding social cues.

The study also pointed out a worrying trend – the increased use of these weed killers due to genetically modified crops resistant to them. These crops, known as “Roundup-ready” for glyphosate and 2,4-D resistant, have led to a surge in the use of these herbicides globally. This could have potential health effects, especially during important growth phases like adolescence.

The researchers urge further investigation into the safety of these chemicals and their long-term effects on human health. The complex landscape of numerous chemicals, with limited knowledge about their safety, adds another layer of concern.

The study draws attention to the rising challenges in mental health among teenagers and young adults globally. With significant percentages facing diagnosable mental health conditions, scientists are exploring links between these conditions and environmental factors, such as exposure to weed killers.


  1. Commonly Used Herbicide is Harmful to Adolescent Brain Function. (2023, October 6).
  2. The Study of Secondary Exposures to Pesticides among Children and Adolescents – Estudio de la Exposición Secundaria a Plaguicidas en Niños y Adolescentes. (n.d.).
Written by Nadzeya Sankovich
Nadzeya Sankovich is the Vice President of Communications at Health Reporter. Previously a professional journalist, she continues to write scientific articles and conduct research. With a background in sociology and medicine, she has worked with various healthcare organizations, from charities to telemedicine platforms.

Nadzeya is also a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and a volunteer for a non-profit organization that helps underserved communities. Through her work, she empowers people to take charge of their health and well-being.
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