How Harmful are Pesticides?

Pesticides are quick poison. Spraying pesticides is like spraying poison all over. They have lethal effects on almost every living being. They are one of the leading causes of soil, water, and air pollution.

What are pesticides? 

Pesticides are chemical substances used to kill pests, insects, rodents, fungi, and unwanted weeds on the farms. They are also sprayed to kill mosquitoes and other insects present in the air. Pesticides include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, larvicides, etc.

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Pesticides are not only used in agricultural lands but also in schools, homes, hospitals, workplaces, and other public places to control the disease-causing insects and microbes. 

Effects of pesticides

Pesticides cause short term adverse health effects known as acute health effects as well as chronic adverse health effects. Acute health effects are caused due to short exposure to pesticides. They include stinging of eyes, rashes, blisters, nausea, blindness, diarrhea, and even death. 

Chronic health effects are caused due to long exposure to pesticides. They include cancers, neurological disorders, reproductive system disorders, organ failures. Pesticides are harmful to both living beings and the environment. 

Health hazards caused due to pesticides 

  • Inhaling pesticides causes serious damage to the nose, throat, and lung tissues. 
  • It causes respiratory tract irritation and cough.
  • Long term exposure to pesticides causes asthma and cancer
  • It also leads to leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • It causes various cancers like brain cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer.
  • It also causes reproductive system diseases like prostate cancer, ovaries cancer, and testis cancer.
  • It has adverse effects on pregnant women. It leads to birth defects, sterility, stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, and infertility. 
  • It causes disruptions in the regular metabolism of the body. 
  • Exposure to pesticides leads to hormonal imbalances, sleep disorders, and brain damage.
  • Children are most affected by exposure to pesticides since they have less immunity. 
  • The organs in children are immature and can be damaged quickly.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common illnesses caused due to exposure pesticides.
  • Alzheimer’s and diabetes are also caused due to pesticides.

Effects of pesticides on the environment

  • Pesticides are absorbed by soil which may end up in underground water. This causes soil pollution and water pollution. 
  • Consuming such contaminated water leads to several diseases in human beings and animals. 
  • Pesticides are often sprayed. Less than 1% of the pesticides reach the targeted areas, while the remaining pesticide gets mixed with the air. This causes air pollution.
  • Pesticides contain a lot of chemicals that are non- degradable and cause bioaccumulation.
  • Pesticide residues present in the air, water, and soil lead to physical and biological degradation.
  • They reduce the fertility of the soil which leads to frequent uprooting of trees. 
  • Soil pollution makes it difficult to grow plants and crops in that area. 
  • The harmful chemicals in pesticides contribute to climate change. They release many harmful greenhouse gases which reduces the oxygen levels in the air.
  • The presence of greenhouse gases beyond the limit in the atmosphere causes global warming. 
  • The pesticide residues are carried along the food chain causing severe threats to the ecosystem. For example, a fish in a contaminated water body consumes any smaller fish or aquatic plants that have pesticide residues in them. The bigger fish now has pesticide residues which cause damage to it. Now, if this contaminated fish is eaten by humans or other living beings, the harmful residues are carried into the bodies of the consumer. In this way, the pesticide residues are transferred from one organism to another.

How to identify the presence of pesticide residues?

The most efficient way of detecting the presence of pesticides in food, water, and the soil is through pesticide residue analysis. The determination of parent compounds and its by-products through various specialized chemical methods is known as pesticide residue analysis.

Pesticides are present in almost all food items, but they lead to lethal effects if they are present above the accepted levels. The pesticide residue analysis plays a crucial role in maintaining these pesticides at safe levels. It ensures food safety, making them safe for consumption. It helps in preventing foodborne and water-borne diseases. Also, it helps in reducing various forms of pollution and global warming

Pesticides help in healthy crop growth. They not only affect insects and pests but also a variety of organisms including human beings. They are one of the major factors contributing to environmental pollution and global warming. Although the complete removal of pesticides from eatables is nearly impossible, it can be controlled. All thanks to the various techniques in pesticide residue analysis that help us control the amounts of pesticides present in food items, making them safe to eat. 


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