Use of Pesticides led to numerous advances in many spheres of human life. However, it is necessary to know what the disadvantages of pesticides are when we start using it excessively. Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Pesticides used to suppress or kill particular species of pests. These pests include all types of insects, rodents, plants, molds, and fungi.
China, Brazil, U.S.A, and the European Union are four of the largest agricultural producers and users of agricultural pesticides in the globe.
During the Vietnam War, the United States military forces sprayed nearly 19 million gallons of herbicide on approximately 3.6 million acres of Vietnamese and Laotian land to destroy forests in these areas. This effort was known as Operation Ranch Hand and continued from 1962 to 1971. Various herbicide formulations were used, but most were mixtures of the 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. Approximately 3 million Americans served in the armed forces in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Some of them were exposed to defoliant mixtures, including Agent Orange. There was evidence on cancer risk of Vietnam veterans and some of the American army personals.
In all over the world, pesticides are used on fruit and vegetables to increase yields. Pesticides are used in gardens and homes to destroy insects and weeds. At homes, pesticides are used against flies, cockroaches, termites, and wood-boring insects. Notwithstanding the beneficial effects of pesticides, they underwent serious reevaluation. Pesticides are toxic substances and can cause serious health conditions. Professionals advocate for reasonable awareness of the dangers of pesticides. Although pesticides must be lethal to the targeted pests so that it can kill the insect, but at the same time not to non-target species, including humans and animals. Unfortunately, this is not the case, so the controversy of the use and abuse of pesticides has come to the picture. The rampant and unjustified use of these chemicals has played havoc with human and other life forms like animals and birds.
The world-wide deaths and chronic diseases due to pesticide poisoning number more than 1 million per annum.
What are the disadvantages of pesticides for the environment?
Pesticides are very detrimental to the environment and affect much damage to ecosystems. Some time Insecticides and herbicides may be harmful to non-target species. Pesticides pollute the air, water, and soil. Carried by the wind, pesticide suspensions contaminate other areas. Pesticides affect considerably natural biological equilibrium. Pesticides adversely impact on biodiversity. Pets may also become affected by strong pesticides.
What is pesticide resistance?
Long time use of some pesticides may contribute to the development of resistance among the pests. Extensive use of herbicide use resulted in genetic modifications in some weeds with resistance to pesticide compounds. The use of the same herbicide compound repeatedly in the same areas for many years led to the development of immunity to the herbicides among targeted plant species. Resistance makes weed control considerably difficult and costly.
What are the disadvantages of pesticides for health?
People working in a field exposed to dangerous concentrations of pesticides. Farmers, pesticide applicators, veterinarians, forestry, horticultural, and park workers are very vulnerable and may contact with pesticides in their professional environment. Several millions of cases of pesticide poisoning are reported every year from almost every country. Risks of poisoning depend on toxicity, dose, the period of exposure, and sensitivity. Pesticides may cause many medical health problems which include neurological and psychiatric complications, brain tumors, cancers, spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and birth defects. Excessive Pesticide exposure is damaging to the human immune system. The endocrine system is particularly sensitive to pesticides. Many pesticides are endocrine disrupters and can produce a detrimental effect on the hormonal balance of the human body.
Direct impact on humans
A study on workers in four units manufacturing HCH in India revealed neurological symptoms (21%) which were related to the intensity of exposure of pesticide.
Surface water contamination
There are reports of Contamination of water by pesticides is widespread. The results of a comprehensive set of studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey on major river basins across the country in the early to mid- 90s revealed that More than 90 percent of water and fish samples from all streams contained at least one pesticide. In some cases more than one pesticide residue found. Pesticides were found in all samples from major rivers of the united states with mixed agricultural and urban land.
Groundwater pollution due to pesticides is a global problem. According to the study of USGS, at least 143 different pesticides and 21 transformation products have been found in groundwater which including pesticides from almost every major chemical class. Groundwater contamination is found in almost every state during the last two decades.
During one survey in India, more than 58% of drinking water samples taken from various hand pumps and wells around Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh were contaminated with Organo Chlorine pesticides above the EPA standards. Once groundwater is contaminated with toxic chemicals, it may take decades for the contamination to completely remove. Cleanup is very costly and complex and it is almost impossible to do it on a large scale.
Effect on soil fertility (beneficial soil microorganisms)
Heavy treatment of soil with pesticides has a very detrimental impact on beneficial soil microorganisms. Excessive use of pesticides has effects on the soil organisms might work for a few years, but after a while, there aren’t enough beneficial friendly soil organisms to hold onto the nutrients” and productivity of crop reduces considerably.
Contamination of air, soil, and non-target vegetation
There is every chance that Pesticide sprays can directly hit non-target vegetation during spraying, and contaminate around the air, soil, and non-target plants. Some pesticide drift occurs during every application, even from equipment used from the ground. Drift can account for a loss of up to 25% of the chemical being applied, which can spread over a distance of a few yards to several hundred miles. As much as around 90% of an applied pesticide can be volatilized within a fortnight of application. Many pesticides have been detected in air at more than half the sites sampled nationwide. Herbicides are designed to kill plants, so it is not surprising that they can injure or kill unintended desirable plants if they are applied directly to such plants or such plants directly exposed to the chemical, or if they drift or volatilize onto them. Phenoxy herbicides, including 2,4-D, can injure nearby trees and shrubs if they drift or volatilize onto leaves. Exposure to the herbicide glyphosate can severely reduce seed quality. Plants can also suffer indirectly when soil microorganisms are destroyed by chemical spray.
How to circumvent the disadvantages of pesticides
To avoid the disadvantages of pesticides one can use several approaches and methods which includes:
• Only Consume food which is grown in ecologically favorable conditions and without the use of excessive pesticides.
• Organic Farming is need of the time
• You must wash fruit and vegetables before consuming it.
• Grow your own food so that you can have your control on chemical use and also the type of pesticide.
• avoid consuming raw vegetables as much as possible and cook them before eating.
• Meat must be cooked carefully.
• try to avoid fatty foods as much as possible because some pesticides can accumulate in fat tissue.
• Do not enter in areas which sprayed with pesticides recently to reduce the exposure.
• All professionals exposed to pesticides must use proper protective equipment.