Negative Effects of Pesticides Essay

Negative Effects of Pesticides Essay

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Pesticides are an enormous benefit to society when used properly. Crop production is increased, produce is preserved, and infestations and exotic species are controlled. There are over a billion pounds of pesticides used annually in the US with over 20,000 marketed products. Unfortunately, it is estimated that there are 10,000 to 20,000 people diagnosed with acute cholinergic syndrome from pesticide poisonings that occur every year in the United States. People who are at the highest risk for exposure account for more than 2 million workers. These include agricultural workers, fumigators, groundskeepers, pet groomers and others. Their main exposures include insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides, fungicides and sanitizers.¹
Pesticide sales in the United States at the user level amounted to $12.5 billion. In 2007, this accounted for 32% of the world market. In addition, the US used 22% of the estimated world supply of pesticides. From 2000 to 2007, the use of conventional pesticides decreased from 1.2 to 1.1 billion, approximately 8%. Of the billion pounds of pesticides, 857 million pounds of the active ingredient were applied to crops in 2007. Specifically, organophosphate pesticide use decreased over 60% from 2000 to 2007, with 33 million pounds being used. Eighty percent of pesticides were used by the agricultural industry in the United States.²
The aforementioned statistics are simply to show the magnitude of the use of pesticides. Although they may be critical for the success of the agribusiness industry, they pose significant health risks to the handlers, the ecology and general public health. Pesticides that contain organophosphates (OP) are used to inhibit acetylcholinesterase (AChE) which leads to overstimulation o...

... middle of paper ...

... hallucinations, cerebellar ataxia and other psychiatric symptoms.
Concerns regarding the health effects of OP pesticides will always be present among researchers and enforcers. Remembering that these compounds were once used as a chemical war agent, the adverse affects of the anti-cholinesterase inhibiting pesticides are varied and extreme at acute and accumulating doses. The delicate balance of chemistry within the biological system must be maintained or the previously mentioned range of symptoms can occur. However the use of OPs remains high even despite advances being made in new classes of pesticides. With little or no control over agricultural use of pesticides, home consumers should be aware that many insects can be managed without insecticides. Physical removal, biological and organic control, and sanitation can eliminate most home and garden pests.

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