“Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as the main threat to health. The diseases we’re beginning to see as the major causes of death in the latter part of this century and into the 21st century are diseases of chemical origin” -- Dick Irwin, Toxicologist at Texas A & M Universities.
PESTICIDES are poisons designed to kill a variety of plants and animals such as insects (insecticides), weeds (herbicides),and molds or fungus (fungicides). Pesticides include active ingredients (chemicals compounds designed to kill the target organism) and inert ingredients which may be carcinogens or toxic substances. They also include rodenticides and wood preservatives.
PESTICIDES can be absorbed through the skin, swallowed or inhaled (Most Toxic). During application pesticides drift and settle on our environmental surroundings and can be tracted into our homes. Only 5% reaches the intended target, the rest runs off into our rivers & streams and dissipates into the air and can range in drift from a few feet upto almost 15 miles. Most serious effects appear to be produced by direct inhalation of pesticides sprays than by absorption or ingestion of toxins.
PESTICIDE “safety test” used to test products are fundamentally inadequate: they test for acute (not chronic) effect of single (not multiple) chemical on healthy (not sick, chemically sensitive or immuno-suppressed etc) adult (not fetal or young ) aminals (not human) subjects exposed over short (not long) periods of time. Some of the companies testing pesticides have been charged and convicted on falsifying residue and environmental studies that were used to support pesticide registration in Canada and the US. Some pesticides become even more toxic as they break down. In the US. it is a violation of federal law to state that the use of pesticides is safe.
Pesticides initiate and propagate multiple chemical sensitivities. About 16 million Americans are sensitive to pesticides (i.e. they have compromised immune functioning as a result of pesticide exposure).
BESIDES SENSITIVITY AND TOXICITY, WHAT OTHER HEALTH RISK ARE THERE?
Increased risk of leukemia
Cancer (lung, brain, testicular, lymphoma)
Increase in spontaneous abortion
Greater genetic damage
Liver and pancreatic damage
Disturbances to immune systems (asthma / allergies)
Increases in stillbirths
Decreased sperm count
WHAT ARE THE MAIN RISKS FOR CHILDREN?
Cancer: leukemia and brain cancer
Asthma and allergies
Polyneuritis with numbness and pain in lower limbs
Altered neurological functioning and long-lasting neuro-behavioral impairments
Gangrene ( tissue death ) of the extremities
Children whose homes and gardens are treated with pesticides have 6.5 times greater risk of leukemia than children living in untreated environments.
WHO IS MOST SUSCEPTIBLE?
· Children, infants and fetuses - relative to adult, children have more rapid breathing and metabolic rates, greater surface to body mass ratios, thinner skin, spend more time in contact with the ground, more frequently place their fingers in their mouths, and are less likely to be able to read hazard signs.
· Adults - especially those with asthma, lupus erythmatosus. vasculitis, dermatitis and chemical sensitivities.
· Animals - pets, wildlife of all kinds and their habitat.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS AND WILDLIFE?
EXAMPLE: 2,4,-D - the most common herbicide used lawn companies:
is found in one third of all pesticides
is present in pesticides and fertilizers, under the name that sounds safe like “Weed ’n Feed”
is a component of agent orange
contains dioxin contaminants
2,4,-D is under special review by the Environmental Protection Agency because of concerns about chronic health and environmental effects and it is still being used !
Developmental and behavioral effects in various animal species.
Associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Reproductive and endocrine disruptions
Associated with cancer in dogs (canine malignant lymphoma)
Increased number of abnormal sperm in exposed farmers
Decreased fertility in rats
WHAT ARE SYNERGISTIC EFFECTS ?
Simultaneous exposures frequently cause synergistic effects, where tonicities of individual toxins can be vastly magnified. Most pesticides contain more than one chemical and during spraying seasons most people are exposed to more that one product as they move around their neighborhoods.
Studies for synergistic effects are not required by EPA for registration of these substances even though these effects regularly occur when chemicals interact in nature.
WHAT ABOUT UNLISTED “INERT” INGREDIENTS?
· 3700 chemicals can be legally concealed in pesticides. -- Dr. J. Irwin.
· They can comprise up to 97% of products like weed killers
· These so called inerts are often insecticides such as DDT or contaminants such as dioxin
· “Inerts” may be even more toxic that the active ingredients which are listed of the label (E.I.. Reyes Syndrome was linked to an ingredient additive that allowed the pesticide to stick on the trees.
· Chemical Fertilizer sprays also contain poisonous solvents
· Applicators do not know the danger of their product because they don’t know the identity of the “inert” ingredients
· Inerts sometimes include benzene, known human carcinogen, if it were spilled on the highway it would be considered a toxic chemical spill
HAZARDOUS WASTE IS LEGALLY RECYCLED INTO PESTICIDES AND LABELED “INERT”
This is not something you want to put on your garden, yet that is where pesticide manufacturers intend to put it, with the blessing of state and federal environmental agencies. These finding are documented and supported by the US. Federal Government, private agencies, and other experts
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
Non-toxic chemical- free lawn and tree care is available. Indoor and out doors Bio-tool kits are available for institutions, golf courses, green houses, landscapers, crop production and many other applications.
Chemical Pesticides have only been in existence for about 50 years , Gardeners, farmers and foresters have always had to control pests, using methods like crop rotation, companion planting. and biological controls. It is only recently that pest management has become virtually synomous with the use of chemical pesticides. We must reverse this unsustainable trend . Ecological methods of pest control must replace the over-dependence on chemicals that now threatens us all.
WHY ARE PESTICIDES USED?
Most people are unaware of pesticide dangers (most companies claim they are “Safe”).
Most people do not know that non-toxic alternatives are available
There is a powerful economic incentive for large chemical companies to promote pesticides. In 1987 the companies ranked by pesticide sales include Dupont - $510 million, Monsanto - $480 million, ICI - $460 million, Ciba Geigy (now Norvartis) $450 million. This, today, is considered a growth “toxic” industry.
HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THESE CHEMICALS?
Chemical fertilizers and pesticides, weaken the trees, plant and crops and destroy the natural balance of microbes and beneficial insect predators, thus promoting weed and insect proliferation.
· Despite a 10 - fold increase in insecticide use, studies have shown a proliferation in types of pest from fewer than 10 to more than 300
· Of the 25 most serious insect pest in California in 1970, 24 were secondary pests (produced because of insecticides) and 73% are resistant to one or more insecticides.
INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS When is comes to pesticide use, we are a human experiment without records being kept. We have chemical warfare going on in our neighborhoods.
The spreading and the spraying of chemicals on lawns, trees and in houses is against the common right of all citizens to breathe clean air and remain in good health. -- Dr. J. Irwin.
The source material of this article contains excerpts from a publication compiled by “RATE” (Real Alternatives to Toxins in the Environment) P.O. Box 25188, Halifax, NS
There is a lot of information available on the web regarding PESTICIDES, use your search engine or visit our Related Links page.............
http://www.getipm.com/government/pesticide-registration.htm http://www.emcom.ca/health/fecundity.shtml http://www.kidsforsavingearth.org/mnchec/articles/pesticides.htm