The impact of pesticides on humans
What is the negative impact of pesticides on human health and body. Pesticides are considered a quick, simple and inexpensive solution to weed and pest control in urban landscapes. However, their use is associated with a negative impact on the human body.
The number of deaths and chronic diseases due to pesticide poisoning worldwide is about 1 million people a year!
Pesticide production began in India in 1952 with the opening of a BHC plant near Kolkata, and India is now the second largest pesticide producer in Asia after China and the twelfth largest in the world. Industrial pesticide production in India has grown steadily from 5,000 metric tons in 1958 to 102,240 metric tons in 1998. The main use of pesticides in India is in cotton (45%), followed by rice and wheat.
What are pesticides?
A pesticide is a chemical used to kill, repel, or control certain plant or animal life forms that are considered pests. Pesticides include herbicides to control weeds and other unwanted vegetation, insecticides to control a wide range of insects, fungicides used to prevent the growth of mold and mildew, disinfectants to prevent the spread of bacteria, and compounds used to control mice and rats.
In other words, any pesticide contains a biologically and chemically active substance against the target pest, be it an insect, weed or fungus. By definition, pesticides are chemicals that kill living things.
Why are pesticides dangerous?
If you’re wondering why pesticides are so dangerous? Let’s look into this issue in more detail.
Forms of adverse effects of pesticides include:
- pollution of almost all forms of life on earth
- poisoning the air, lakes and oceans
- destruction of fish in the waters and birds that feed on fish
pesticides pollute soil, water, grass and other vegetation
- the application of pesticides to flowering crops kills honey bees, which act as pollinators
- it also reduces pollination and crop reproduction
- hazardous chemicals contained in pesticides have a particular negative impact on all living beings, especially on animals and the human body
Why are pesticides dangerous? Another danger of pesticides lies in their inert ingredients. If you were to go to your local hardware store and look at the label of an ant and cockroach killer, the contents would look something like this: “5% permethrin, 95% inert ingredients.” After reading the label, you may wonder what the other 95% is made of. This is because pesticide manufacturers are required to list only the active ingredients of the pesticides, leaving consumers and users with no knowledge of possible toxic substances present in the inert ingredients of the pesticides they use. They also do not know how they can be dangerous.
Pesticide manufacturers claim that they cannot disclose information about inert ingredients because they are trade secrets, and if they are published, their products can be copied. Quite often, inert ingredients make up over 95% of a pesticide product. Inert ingredients are mixed with pesticides as a binder, but are often just as dangerous as the active ingredient itself. Some inert ingredients are even more toxic than active ingredients.
Impact of pesticides on human health
Pesticides can cause short-term adverse human health effects, referred to as acute effects, as well as chronic adverse effects, which may appear months or years after exposure.Examples of acute health effects include burning eyes, rashes, blisters, blindness, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, and death. Examples of known chronic effects in humans are cancer, birth defects, reproductive harm, immunotoxicity, neurological and developmental toxicity, and endocrine disruption.
Some people are more vulnerable to pesticides than others. For example, infants and young children are known to be more susceptible to the toxic effects of pesticides than adults. Other high-risk groups exposed to pesticides include production workers, formulators, sprayers, loaders, and agricultural farm workers. In short, all people who use pesticides are at greater risk because they are exposed to more.
Acute (immediate) effects of pesticides on human health
Immediate human health effects from exposure to pesticides include irritation of the nose, throat, and skin causing burning, stinging, and itching, as well as rashes and blisters. Nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea are also common. People with asthma can have very severe reactions to some pesticides, especially pyrethrin/pyrethroid, organophosphorus and carbamate pesticides.
In many cases, the symptoms of pesticide poisoning mimic those of a cold or flu. Because pesticide-related diseases appear similar or identical to other diseases, pesticide poisonings are often misdiagnosed and underreported.The immediate symptoms of pesticide exposure in humans may not be strong enough at first to prompt people to seek medical attention, or a doctor may not even consider asking about pesticide exposure. However, seek immediate medical attention immediately if you think you may have been poisoned by pesticides.
Chronic (long-term) effects of pesticides on human health
Chronic effects on health and the human body include cancer and other tumors; damage to the brain and nervous system; birth defects; infertility and other reproductive problems; damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and other organs of the body. Chronic effects may not appear until weeks, months, or even years after exposure, making it difficult to find links to pesticide effects on health and the human body over time.
Pesticides have been found to cause disease in human studies with leukemia, lymphoma, and brain, breast, prostate, testicular, and ovarian cancers.
Reproductive harm from pesticides is also known, which includes birth defects, stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, and infertility. Therefore, they are also called as endocrine disruptors.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that disrupt important bodily functions by mimicking or blocking hormones. Pesticides, called endocrine disruptors, cause many adverse effects by mimicking or counteracting natural hormones in the human body. Their long-term exposure (even in small doses) has consequences for human health, such as: immune suppression, hormonal imbalance, decreased intelligence, reproductive disorders and cancer.
Children are more vulnerable to pesticide exposure because their organs, nervous system and immune system are still developing. Children are also less able to detoxify and eliminate harmful substances from the body. Exposure of pesticides to children during certain early developmental periods can lead to irreversible effects.
In addition to being more vulnerable to pesticide toxicity, children’s behavior and physiology make them more susceptible to pesticides than adults. Most pesticide exposure occurs through the skin, and children have a larger skin surface area than adults. Children have a higher respiratory rate and therefore inhale pesticides in the air at a higher rate than adults. Children also consume proportionately more food and water and pesticide residues than adults. Because children have more contact with floors, lawns, and playgrounds, children’s behavior also increases their exposure to pesticides.
Effects on health and the human body of some classes of pesticides
Organophosphates and carbamates: These pesticides are similar to nerve gases: they act on the human brain and nervous system, interfering with the transmission of nerve signals. Symptoms of adverse health effects include headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, chest pain, diarrhea, muscle pain and confusion. In severe poisoning, symptoms may include seizures.
Soil fumigants: these pesticides are applied to the soil, producing a gas that is toxic to nematodes, fungi, bacteria, insects, and plants in the soil. Because they are gases, they are released from the soil into the air and endanger people living or working nearby. Commonly used soil fumigants include 1,3-dichloropropene, chloropicrin, metham-sodium, and metham-potassium. Symptoms of adverse effects on the human body of the fumigant include skin, eye and lung irritation (dichloropropene and chloropicrin) and severe eye and lung irritation (sodium metham and potassium metham). Dichloropropene, metham-sodium and metham-potassium are cancer-causing chemicals, and metham-sodium harms the reproductive system. Preterm births are more common in counties with high fumigant use than in counties with low fumigant use.
Pyrethroids: these insecticides are synthetic chemicals that are structurally similar to plant compounds but are more persistent.They are toxic to the nervous system and there is concern that during pregnancy the fetus cannot break down these chemicals efficiently. Symptoms of pyrethroid poisoning in humans include tremors, salivation, headache, fatigue, vomiting, burning and itching of the skin, and involuntary twitches.
Many pyrethroids also cause long-term health problems. For example, resmetrin causes both cancer and reproductive harm. Cypermethrin, fenvalerate and deltamethrin cause genetic damage and damage to the reproductive system. Data from the National Biomonitoring Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention link pyrethroid exposure to heart disease.
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