Pesticides – Impact on Health and Environment

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Do you know that worldwide pesticides consumption is around 2 million tonnes per year? That’s huge. Moreover, the global expenditure on pesticide at producer level are nearly $56 billion, of which 14% of the expenditure is taken by insecticides.

Pesticides have become an integral part of modern life and widely used to prevent the growth of unwanted living organisms. Due to the increasing population, the amount of food produced is important but there are other organisms that are striving to consume the crops meant for humans. When this happens, it results in huge economic losses.

 

Due to this huge loss in food production, pesticides are often used to prevent the pests. This results in so much money spent on pesticides. The benefits of pesticides can be categorised into two types – primary and secondary.

Primary Benefits

  • Controlling pests and plant disease: This includes controlling invasive species and improved crop quality and reduced soil disturbances.
  • Preventing organisms that harm human activities and structures: Pesticides products like Suspended SC help us prevent organisms that attack or destroy properties such as termites, cockroaches Infestation, etc.

Secondary Benefits

  • Community Benefits: Benefits like nutrition and health improvements, food safety and reduced maintenance costs.
  • Global Benefits: Less pressure on uncropped land and international tourism revenue.

Risks

  • Toxic to humans.
  • Negative impacts on ecosystem and environment

Pesticides are meant for harming only the targetted pest, but when used incorrectly it could harm people and environment. Here are the studies on the potential health effects of pesticides.

Lack of Regulations

Poisoning by pesticides is a global public health problem. This poisoning is more serious in the developing countries despite the fact that pesticides are sold in large quantities in the developed countries. One of the reasons for this is the lack of pesticide control laws and training programmes for pesticide users and inspectors in the developing world. Studies shows that around 25% of developing countries lacks rules and laws regulating pesticide use and its distribution.

Pesticides Regulations

In most countries, pesticides are regulated when it is approved for sale and should be used by Government Agency. During the registration process, the pesticides are given labels which mention the safety and hazard warning along with its usage. It also undergoes measurement of acute toxicity test and then classified into one of the toxic classes. Almost all deadly categorised pesticides and insecticides with severe health hazards are banned in most countries. The ban is imposed on pesticides which shows risk at very low level of exposures.

Environmental impact of pesticides

The environmental impacts of pesticides are either direct or indirect damage they cause to plants, animals and microorganisms and varies from minor injuries to death.

Environmental impacts can be categorised into two parts:

  • Damage to animals (Vertebrates & Invertebrates) & plants.
  • Pest resistance to pesticides

Pesticides use has two main unintentional effects on vertebrate wildlife by feeding on the contaminate plants and prey or exposure to high doses and poorer survival, growth and reproduction.

Apart from pesticides impacts on the environment, pesticides help farmers to combat pests and produce larger quantities of food. Farmers also able to earn more profit by having to sell more. Pesticides help farmers save money on labour costs as well.

Malaria, a deadly disease caused by infected Mosquitoes and others like bubonic plague and fleas transmitted by Rats and flea or body lice is reduced due to the usage of pesticides in agriculture sectors, as discussed in the research studies.

An Entomology, Matan Shelomi a published writer on Quora says in his answers that you’re ingesting pesticides and it is no problem at all and he explains it why is it not a problem. He explained that not all pesticides are toxic at all and said many pesticides degrade over time, by the time food reaches you there will be no traces of pesticides in it.

Many edible parts of the food are not sprayed with pesticides. He mentioned that what is deadly to plants and insects is not deadly for mammals and vice versa. Remember again that organic farmers use pesticides and sometimes much more than necessary.

Many NGOs and residents are against pesticides. Some are against due to the lack of knowledge or they believe that we are being exposed to many pesticides and government is literally helping it in the causes.

It is also encouraged by some organic food companies that conventional food companies are using a lot of pesticides and making wrong impacts on people and creating issues of using pesticides which don’t even have an impact on the people eating that food. Pesticides cause health problem to the people working in the field, like farmers, and even people living nearby.

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Salman Zafar