PESTICIDE USAGE: BENEFIT, CHALLENGES AND RECOMMENDATION FOR SAFETY
In the US, over 4.5 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year, with 75% used in agriculture and 25% in homes and gardens. The prevalence and widespread use of pesticides has increased our exposure to a variety of chemicals, while the long-term health implications are still being studied (Seaman, 2010).
People of any age with asthma or other chronic diseases may be more likely than healthy individuals to get sick after pesticide exposure. Some individuals are also more sensitive to the odor or other irritant effects of certain pesticides.
But no matter what their individual sensitivities, people in the greatest danger of pesticide illness are those whose exposure is highest, such as workers who mix or apply pesticides. People who use pesticides in their homes may also be overexposed and become ill, especially if they do not carefully follow the directions on the product label. People living near agricultural fields are more likely than urban residents to be exposed to farm chemicals (although their exposure may not necessarily be high enough to cause harmful effects).
The term Pesticide covers a wide range of compounds including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, molluscicides, nematicides, plant growth regulators and others. Among these, organochlorine (OC) insecticides, used successfully in controlling a number of diseases, such as malaria and typhus, were banned or restricted after the 1960s in most of the technologically advanced countries. The introduction of other synthetic insecticides – organophosphate (OP) insecticides in the 1960s, carbamates in 1970s and pyrethroids in 1980s and the introduction of herbicides and fungicides in the 1970s–1980s contributed greatly to pest control and agricultural output.
Pesticides can be incredibly beneficial and have most certainly increased food production. They were of great importance in saving the United States' potato crops during the 1940's from insect and fungal pests, as well as controlling the boll weevil in El Salvador in 1953.
Benefits of Pesticides
The benefits of pesticides include increased food production, increased profits for farmers and the prevention of diseases. Although pests consume or harm a large portion of agricultural crops, without the use of pesticides, it is likely that they would consume a higher percentage.
Due to the use of pesticides, it is possible to combat pests and produce larger quantities of food. By producing more crops, farmers are also able to increase profits by having more produce to sell. Pesticides also increase farm profits by helping the farmer save money on labor costs. Using pesticides reduces the amount of time required to manually remove weeds and pests from fields.
In addition to saving crops and livestock, pesticides have also had direct benefits to human health. It is estimated that since 1945, the use of pesticides has prevented the deaths of around seven million people by killing pests that carry or transmit diseases. Malaria, which is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, is one of the most commonly known and deadly diseases that has decreased in prevalence due to the use of pesticides. Other diseases that were minimized due to the use of pesticides include the bubonic plague, which is carried by rat fleas, and typhus, which is transmitted by both fleas and body lice
Negative Effects of Pesticide Use
Chemical pesticides are known to pollute the environment. While their intended effects are often short-lived, studies have shown that chemical pesticides linger in the atmosphere, the ground and in our waterways long after the job is over
Effects on Soil and Crops
When farmers across the world began to rely on chemical pesticides, a drastic change in soil health followed. When the health of soil is compromised, the nutritional value of the food it yields is compromised as well
Pesticides have been linked to a myriad of diseases. The Pesticides Literature Review, which is based on studies conducted by a multi-university research team in Toronto, concludes, "people should reduce their exposure to pesticides because of links to serious illnesses. Results of this study found consistent evidence of serious health risks such as cancer, nervous system diseases and reproductive problems in people exposed to pesticides…through home and garden exposure."
Exposure to chemical pesticides often continues while the users are inside their home. Pesticides are easily tracked indoors by you, your children or your pets, and from there they can be absorbed into your body through your skin or lungs. It’s frightening to think that you could be breathing in the very chemicals used to make grass grow or kill pests, while you are sitting at the dinner table or fast asleep in bed.
Solution for Safety
Using pesticides safely depends on many things. Some of the most important factors include selecting the appropriate product, and using that product according to the label directions. The label directions are written to minimize the risk of problems and to define the legaluses for the product.
In addition to reading and following the label directions, consider these tips when using pesticidesake sure kids, pets, and anyone non-essential to the application is out of the area befor.
- Be sure to wear clothing that will protect you when using pesticides. Consider wearing a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and closed-toe shoes in addition to any other protective clothing or equipment required by the label.
- Mix pesticides outdoors or in well-ventilated areas.
- Mix only what you need to use in the short term to avoid storing or disposing of excess pesticide.
- Be prepared for a pesticide spill. Have paper towels, sawdust or kitty litter, garbage bags, and non-absorbent gloves on hand to contain the spill. Avoid using excessive amounts of water, as this may only spread the pesticide and could be harmful to the environment.
- Read the first aid instructions on the label before using the product.
- Remove personal items, such as toys, clothing, or tools from the spray area to avoid contamination.
- When spraying pesticides indoors, make sure the area is well ventilated.
- When applying pesticides as a spray or dust outside, avoid windy conditions and close the doors and windows to your home.
- After using pesticides, wash your hands before smoking or eating.
AREMU Fakunle John is an Agricultural Economist and certified Health Safety and Environmentalist. He engaged the farmers and value chain actors on best agricultural practices and give policy recommendations to decision makers on making agriculture a business. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org. Whatsapp, +2348063284833