Pesticide Use: What You Should Know

pesticide use and health

Pesticide use poses a real health risk and is often misunderstood or simply ignored. Scientific research has already proven the negative effects of pesticide exposure to many sectors of the population.

For obvious reasons, pesticide companies that manufacture these chemicals for both indoor and outdoor use, are not going to broadly publicize the unhealthy effects of pesticide exposure to humans, animals and the environment.

In order to minimize or avoid toxic exposures, it’s wise to be aware of the many uses of pesticides that pervade our everyday lives.

What Are Chemical Pesticides?

For anyone who is unsure of the toxicity levels, these facts should provide ample evidence of the dangers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives this definition of pesticides:

Pesticides are any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Pesticides can cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment because they are designed to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms.

BOOM! That says it all.

Side Effects of Pesticide Exposure

How about these facts:

  • 59% of all pesticides on the market are carcinogenic.
  • According to Dr. Herbert L. Needleham and Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, authors of the book, Raising Toxic Children, 80 to 90 percent of all cancer in children is due to environmental exposure to carcinogens.
  • The New England Journal of Medicine cited a study in 2000 that suggests humans are more likely to develop cancer from pollution and pesticides that from heredity.
  • Behavioral issues in children is related to their genetic makeup influenced by what their parents ate and the foods they were fed as young children. Charles Benbrook of the Organic Center states that:

A child with pesticides in their genetic makeup faces problems later in life, this is one of the things no doubt behind the big increase in ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. These behavioral problems in a lot of kids today are likely to reach back, for some of the kids, to what their parents ate and what they were fed as young children.

The World Health Organization, the EPA and Natural Resource Defense Council have cited these health risks as linked to pesticide exposure:

  • 20,000 annual deaths related to agricultural pesticide poisonings
  • 3 million chronic health issues are associated with exposure to agricultural pesticides
  • Neurological problems
  • Weakened immune system
  • Lack of development in reproductive systems
  • Higher incidents of leukemia, birth defects and cancer in children who were exposed early in life to pesticides
  • Nerve damage
  • Birth defects
  • 70% risk of developing Parkinson’s disease when exposed to low levels of pesticide, according to a 2006 study by Harvard School of Public Health

hazardous pesticide useFarmers and farm workers have an unusually high risk of developing prostate cancer and are 6 times more likely to bediagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma than non-farm workers.

2 Important Steps to Avoid Exposure to Pesticides

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to avoid pesticide exposure except by avoidance, which can be a difficult thing to do without intentionally changing lifestyle habits.

1. Eat organic foods

About Fruits and Vegetables

Many people think that pesticides in food can simply be removed by washing fruits and vegetables. This is not the case.

Not only is farm grown produce directly sprayed with chemical pesticide treatments, but it is also fumigated…meaning that the chemicals seep into the soil, which is then absorbed through the root system of each plant.

In other words, pesticides in foods are “baked in” conventionally grown fruits and vegetables and cannot simply be washed off.

About Meats

Choosing to eat grass-fed, free range meat is also important in reducing pesticide intake. Pesticides are also found in the grains, grass and other products used to feed conventional animals used for food.

Sticking with meat, poultry and fish that is organic is a great way to avoid more toxic exposure.

2. Use natural pest control methods

There are many commercially produced non-toxic pest control products that can easily replace their more toxic counterparts. Also, there are many homemade, natural solutions that can be used to control most pest problems around the house, both indoors and outdoors.

Pesticide Exposure can be Reduced by Nearly 90%

But exposure can be reduced to a whopping 90% simply by avoiding some of the most common contaminated vegetables and fruits, according to The Environmental Working Group!

Eating organic food and choosing non-toxic pest control methods goes a long way in protecting human health as well as protecting the environment from the side effects of pesticide use.

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