The Dangers of Pesticides
You didn't really think I would skirt around the dangers of pesticides, did you, especially with approximately 59% of homes still using them on a regular basis? As the following studies will show, even a slight exposure to pesticides can have deadly affects on our health and most especially the health of children, whose nervous systems are still developing.
The real problem is that pesticides are EV. RY. WHERE. Even if we don't use them in our home we are still exposed to them through non-organic foods, public parks, the routine spraying of businesses, even our doctors offices! Why? Because we've been convinced of their safety and of the dangers of insects by the very people profiting from the propaganda.
An Unwarranted Bug-Phobia
Let's just start off by saying our culture has a very unhelpful view of insects and bugs in general. If you ask anyone they will likely say it's because bugs are dangerous or harbor disease. But in most cases, the dangers of pesticides far outweigh the dangers of insects.
For starters, of all the common household insects very few actually pose a real threat: most commonly the black widow spider and brown recluse spider. However, because spiders do not clean themselves to digest the poison, they rarely respond to pesticides. Therefore preventative measures and common sanitation practices are far more effective against poisonous spiders than pesticides.
As for disease-carrying insects, the instances of disease caused by insects is very low, only seven insects out of a total of approximately 900,000 insects on Earth.1 Seriously, folks. But as you're about to see, the dangers of pesticides are much higher and we're trading our health for a false sense of security.
There is also the idea that without pesticides modern farming would not be possible. However, nature has already proven this idea to be false. Through the use of organic gardening practices, insect invasion can be avoided with little to no impact on our food supply.
The Dangers of Pesticides
Countless studies have been done on the dangers of pesticides. I could easily fill page after page with the data collected against its common use.
Please don't view the following information as a death sentence. If you limit your exposure now with things like buying organic food or using natural non-toxic pesticide alternatives and take action toward sustainable care of your health, as well as oppose pesticide use whenever possible, you can stop and even reverse the dangers of pesticides in your body.
Cancer and Tumors Linked to Pesticides
A 2005 study2 showed a linked between breast cancer and a pesticide called heptachlor epoxide. This pesticide was commercially banned in 1988 but is still being used to control fire ants. Heptachlor epoxide is also connected to liver and kidney disease and cancers, convulsions, infertility, and fetal development.3
A report published in 2000 by the American Cancer Society, shows children are three to seven times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma when exposed to household pesticides than children who are not exposed.4
One report showed an increased risk of childhood leukemia in households that used pesticides. The risk increased when the pesticide use increased. (This study also showed an increased risk in association with other toxins.)5 Another study stated, "Indoor use of some insecticides by the owners and pesticide use in the garden and on interior plants, in particular frequent prenatal use, was associated with increased risks up to severalfold in magnitude." 6
One German study linked leukemia and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in childhood to the use of professional and home pesticides.
Insecticides used occupationally have been classified as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.7 Organochlorine insecticides with Soft Tissue Sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and leukemia.8
According to an Oxford study, "use of chlorinated pesticides among applicators over 50 years of age and methyl bromide use were significantly associated with prostate cancer risk."9
A University of California at Davis study shows household pesticide use during the prenatal period or early postnatal period was linked to autism.10
Infertility, Miscarriage, and Birth Defects
A 1998 study has linked the dangers of pesticides and other toxicants to subfecundity, infertility, pregnancy loss, growth retardation, intrauterine fetal demise, birth defect, and ovarian failure.11
Twenty-one largely banned persistent and bioaccumulative pesticides were found in the cord blood of newborn babies. (266 other chemicals were also found.) 12
Numerous forms of the pesticide chlordane can be found in breast milk, along with many other contaminents.13 (This is NOT a reason to stop breastfeeding! Breast milk is still, by far, the best choice.)
Pesticide usage has also been linked to fetal death, malformations, miscarriages, long term infertility, male infertility, and brain damage during pregnancy.14
ADHD Linked To Pesticides
One article showed a connection between organophosphate exposure, at levels common among US children, and ADHD prevalence.15
From the University of Mississippi, a study shows a link between hyperactivity and pesticides and other chemicals by affecting the central nervous system.16 Similar results were found in relation to the pesticide chlorodane.17
One study showed that ADHD may be caused by damage to neurotransmitters in the frontal lobe of the brain, with evidence showing that pesticides cause damage to brain cells.18 Because insecticides kill insects by attacking their brains and nervous systems, it stands to reason it would affect the development of childrens' brains.19
Other Diseases Showing the Dangers of Pesticides
A University of Wisconsin, Madison study showed pesticide seeped into groundwater and mixed with agricultural fertilizers is linked to immune and endocrine systems as well as neurological health.20
One research report states "suggest that both acute high-intensity and cumulative pesticide exposure may contribute to depression in pesticide applicators."21
The cause of Parkinson's disease (PD) is unknown, but epidemiological studies suggest an association with the dangers of pesticides and other environmental toxins.22
Pesticides Affecting the Environment
The dangers of pesticides on the natural world are largely untested. Since Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, it's been a concern but very little has done since the widespread grassroots efforts as a part of her research. Below are just a few studies that show us there may be dangers of pesticides we have yet to understand.
- Probabilistic risk-assessment model for birds exposed to granular pesticides
- Bird populations as sentinels of endocrine disrupting chemicals
- Scared sick? Effects of sublethal exposure to predators and pesticides on life history traits and disease susceptibility in wood frogs
- Effects of agricultural landscape and pesticides on parasitism in native bullfrogs
- Distribution of Endocrine-Disrupting Pesticides in Water and Fish from the Oder River, Poland
- PCBs and Organochlorine Pesticides in Ducks of Fereydoon-kenar Wildlife Refuge in Iran
- Handbook of toxicity of pesticides to wildlife. Second edition.
- An integrated laboratory and field approach for assessing hazards of pesticide exposure to wildlife.
Is it any wonder we're all sick? The dangers of pesticides are a very real and very scary thing.
Learn About Pesticide Alternatives
The crazy thing about all these dangers of pesticides is how EASY it is to go pesticide-free (or at least use natural pesticides that don't pose such a risk to your health). The cool thing about the dangers of pesticides is also just that: It's easy to make the switch. Click one of the two banners below to learn safe, eco-friendly alternatives to chemical pesticides, or click here to learn how to afford organic foods.