Five Ways Pesticides Can Affect Your Health

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The use of pesticides in farming to maximize the harvest is sometimes justified by the notion that the levels used to kill insects are low and won’t affect humans. Unfortunately, this is not entirely true.

It has been shown that even small concentrations of pesticides can have effects on humans, especially over the long term as pesticide concentrations may build up in the body and cause certain diseases to develop slowly.

The most alarming feature about some pesticides is their resistance to degradation, which makes them persistent organic pollutants that remain in the environment for decades.

Such pollutants can travel long distances and become even more concentrated over time, thus poisoning organisms and becoming a risk factor for humans.

Pesticides that are sprayed on fruits and vegetables can leach into the soil and underground water, thus ending up in drinking water, too.

The weight of scientific evidence suggests that long- and short-term exposure to most pesticides can cause significant adverse effects on human health in general. Following are the five most common health problems that pesticides may pose:

Hormonal Disturbances: Common pesticides found in food have been described to affect the body’s hormonal balance, leading to abnormalities in behaviour and in the development of reproductive organs.

Neurological Deficits: Recently, one of the nastiest pesticides in the market, dichlorvos, was withdrawn after being proven to cause problems to the human nervous system, potentially leading to death. This pesticide was originally developed by chemical weapon engineers in World War II as a nerve gas relative, but it was used occasionally in homes and restaurants to kill insects!

Weakening the Immune System: Reports suggest that exposure to organochlorine pesticides in children can increase their rates of infection up to 15 times. Other reports indicate that the number of natural killer lymphocytes decreases in populations exposed to pesticides.

Food Poisoning: An episode of pesticide food poising was reported in southeast Turkey in 1955 resulting in the death of 90% of those affected. Similar episodes were reported in the United States in the 1980s. Most of the cases were related to misuse or overuse of pesticides.

Carcinogenisis: Laboratory studies provide convincing evidence that some pesticides can act in promoting cancer cell growth and lymphomas.

More and more people are wisely avoiding pesticide contamination by opting for organic or pesticide free food. Others argue that governments must act by creating controls that ensure pesticide safety

Interestingly, current standards for approved usage of many pesticides have been established with adults in mind, not children or the elderly, meaning some people may still be at risk, even when guidelines are adhered to.

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