How do pesticides affect humans?
More pesticides, more detrimental health impacts – a well-known fact
If you’re someone who knows one-fifth of the tip of the iceberg or even less and wants to explore the impact of foreign substances on our bodies, this guide is for you.
This is a beginner’s guide. A beginning beginner.
Growing up, as children, we stay close to Earth, basking in nature’s wonder, but somewhere along the line, the awareness of how our actions ruin the very planet that nurtures us cease to grow, often even living a whole life without an ounce of understanding.
As one moves to adulthood and goes through the various life trajectories, certain situations invoke interest in understanding the politics of food. The passion for learning about health might stem from educational background, occupational requirement, love for nature, exposure to media, or growing health concerns with the advent of COVID-19.
Growing awareness of health is a refreshing sign of changing times.
Reading health topics can become a tedious task full of intricate details. Hence, this guide offers a glimpse of an essential component of the food production process: pesticides.
What are pesticides?
Pesticides are a combination of chemical formulas used to protect plants and animals from pests.
What are the health effects of pesticides?
Pesticides can cause both acute and chronic adverse effects based on the exposure span.
Acute effects: irritation of the nose and throat, skin problems such as rashes and blisters, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea
Chronic effects: cancer; brain and nervous system damage; birth defects; reproductive problems; and damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and other body organs
Pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable.
What are the health effects of certain classes of pesticides?
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, in short, DDT, is an organochlorine pesticide widely known for its harmful impact on the environment and human health. Various other organochlorines are used pesticides; however, DDT’s popularity paved the way to complete ban in use in many countries.
Organochlorine pesticides are associated with various health effects — endocrine disorders, embryonic development abnormality, lipid metabolism, and hematological and hepatic alterations.
Although the scientific community is yet to conclude its carcinogenic properties, its potential can’t be underestimated.
Organophosphates, introduced as a more ecological alternative to organochlorines, refer to a great variety of pesticides: glyphosate is the most common one.
Studies reveal possible relations between exposure to organophosphates and various adverse health effects. This might impact cholinesterase enzymes, insulin secretion, the nervous system, reproductive system, cellular metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and cardiovascular diseases.
Scientists are conducting further studies to study its possible relation with hypertension, autism, diabetes, strokes, kidney failure, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and cancer.
Popular pesticides aldicarb, carbofuran, and ziram belong to chemical pesticides called carbamate pesticides. These are related to endocrine disruption effects, breast cancer, and reproductive problems.
Over 1,000 different types of pesticides are used worldwide. Our risk of exposure to pesticides increases each year as more and more millions are invested for higher yields and greater profits.
Production workers, formulators, mixers, sprayers, loaders, and agricultural farmworkers are worst hit by exposure to pesticides.
Make no mistake, no one is spared from pesticide exposure.
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