Pesticides are any substance, man made or otherwise, that protect plants and animals, that includes you, from the negative effects of pests. Essentially, pesticide substances accomplish their protective work by preventing, destroying or repelling pests. And pests are any living organism that cause damage or are unwanted, for instance:
Two of the major reasons pesticides are used is to prevent crop loss and disease.
Pesticide is an overall term used to refer disinfectants, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and rodent control compounds. A disinfectant controls the spread of bacteria, a herbicide destroys unwanted vegetation, an insecticide curbs insect infestation and a fungicide prevents mold, mildew and fungus growth.
Synthetic pesticide use is widespread and very little is known about the health effects from their exposure. For now, most information relating to pesticide toxicity health effects are potential and possible risks because proof through research is incomplete. In the interest of your health and until such time more is known, your personal exposure to man made pesticides is best kept to a minimum.
You can be exposed to pesticides by inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption. Typical sources of pesticides are:
- pets ~ insecticide used for fleas
- food ~ grown with pesticide use
- skin, clothes insecticide repellent ~ mosquitoes
- drinking water ~ land pesticide use into water runoff
- around the house ~ disinfectant, herbicide insecticide, fungicide use
- work exposure ~ pesticide applicators, laborers working around pesticides
Because the use of pesticides is so prevalent, a low level exposure is likely impossible to avoid.
The potential health effects from the exposure are divided into acute and chronic. Acute health effects usually involve eye irritation and skin problems. Although, you could experience other health effects like headache, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, pneumonitis and tremors as well.
Health effects of chronic exposure continues to be debated, but some research is focusing on possible connections with:
- birth defects
- ovarian function
- immune problems
- Parkinson’s disease
- growth & development
- autoimmune disorders
- energy metabolism issues
- menstrual cycle irregularity
- nervous system, nerve damage
- endocrine disruption affecting regulation of hormones
- cancer ~ sarcoma, melanoma, leukemia, lymphoma, brain, lung, breast, prostate
Though research evidence regarding pesticides remains inconclusive, are these lurking health effects worth it? If not, then when you want to control pests, consider using pest control methods that don’t entail chemical exposure type pesticides. And this EPA Pest Guide is a great resource for ways you can accomplish this.