It is essential to understand what are the risks of using pesticides so that you can follow the practices that can help in minimizing your exposure and other people’s exposure to pesticides. Some pesticides are so poisonous that even small quantities are enough to kill a person.
The symptoms of pesticide poisoning may range from mild skin irritation to coma or even death. Health effects from pesticides may occur right away, while some take several hours after exposure.
Pesticides can often make their way to bodies of water such as rivers, oceans, or ponds. If that body of water gets contaminated with chemicals, animals may get sick and die, making the whole ecosystem unbalanced.
Pesticide Exposure Symptoms
A pesticide can also have a negative impact through a process called volatilization. It happens when a pesticide turns into a gas or vapor after spraying it, enabling it to travel through the air and spread to many places.
Some effects of pesticides develop at the site of pesticide contact and are a result of either the pesticide’s irritant compounds or an allergic response by the victim. Dermatitis can be associated with pesticide exposure which is characterized by reddening of the skin and the presence of rashes and blisters.
Mild symptoms of pesticide exposure include irritation of the throat and skin, headache, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, thirst, diarrhea, sweating, weakness, restlessness, and insomnia. Moderate symptoms include salivation, abdominal cramps, blurring of vision, trembling, and muscular incoordination.
Severe symptoms of pesticide exposure include the inability to breathe, increased rate of breathing, intestinal disorders, changes in heart rate, convulsions, and coma, which may soon lead to death.
How Do Pesticides Enter The Body?
Pesticides may enter the body dermally(through the skin), orally (through the mouth and digestive system), and by inhalation.
Dermal exposure happens when the skin comes in contact with pesticides. It accounts for 90% of pesticide users’ exposure to non-fumigant pesticides.
Our skin can absorb wet and dry pesticides, and the seriousness of dermal exposure depends upon the dermal toxicity of the pesticide, rate of absorption through the skin, size of the affected area, amount of pesticide on the skin, and the length of time the material is in contact with the skin.
Oral exposure may happen because of an accident, but it’s more likely a result of recklessness such as blowing out a clogged nozzle with your mouth, eating without washing your hands after using a pesticide, and eating a fruit that has recently been sprayed with a pesticide containing residues above the level of tolerance set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Inhalation exposure results from inhaling pesticide vapors and spray particles. It occurs by breathing air containing vapor, aerosol or small particles from pesticides.
It can occur from inhaling fumes while mixing and pouring pesticides. Always read the instructions from the labels of the pesticides, as some require the use of a specified respirator.
How Is Toxicity Measured?
The chances of developing health effects depend on the type of substances that make up the pesticide, your amount of pesticide exposure, and how long your exposure has been.
A pesticide’s risk depends on two things, exposure and toxicity. Exposure is the amount released into the environment, while toxicity measures how poisonous it is to the environment.
All pesticides undergo necessary tests to identify the toxicity and dose required to generate a toxic reaction. A toxicity test is conducted in many labs, and strict testing procedures are observed.
Acute toxicity refers to the measure of pesticide’s toxicity in a one-time exposure. A pesticide with high acute toxicity can be deadly even in small amounts.
Chronic toxicity pertains to the harmful effects of long-term exposure to pesticides. Less is known about the chronic toxicity of pesticides because, unlike acute toxicity, chronic toxicity is gradual rather than immediate.
The Right Way To Select Pesticides
Carefully read the label and any supplemental information before selecting or applying any pesticide. The pesticide label has all the information necessary for the proper use of the chemical, treatment for accidental exposure, and instructions for disposal of the pesticide container.
Ensure that you use pesticides only for the purposes specified on the label. Don’t forget to follow proper mixing, loading, and application recommendations.
Choose a pesticide that’s appropriate for the pest you’ll eliminate. Proper selection is essential for effective and economical pest control performance.
You may check out this article here to know why is it important to read the pesticide labels first?
Precautions You Should Consider To Minimize Pesticide Exposure
- Adopt an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach. IPM emphasizes sanitation, prevention, exclusion and only considers pesticides the last resort when all other options have failed.
For further information about IPM, you may want to read this article to identify the benefits of IPM.
- Check the active ingredients of the pesticide, and choose the product with the lowest toxicity level. You may call National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) to assist you in comparing products.
- Remember to check the product’s label as some pesticide requires the use of protective equipment, like goggles or gloves, to minimize your exposure even further.
- Ensure that the pesticide label indicates the specific location where you can use the product. It is illegal and unsafe to use a pesticide in locations that are not specified on the product’s label.
- Don’t allow pets and children in treatment areas to prevent accidental exposures during pesticide applications.
- Stay out of the treated area after the pesticide application for the time specified on the label.
- It is crucial to ensure that all food, toys, pet bowls, and clothing are stored in a safe place and are free from residues of pesticides.
What are the risks of using pesticides? Some pesticides are so dangerous that even absorbing a small amount can end a person’s life.
Some of the mild symptoms of pesticide exposure are throat and skin irritation, headache, nausea, and dizziness. Severe symptoms include increased rate of breathing, changes in heart rate, and convulsions.
Always keep in mind to read the label of a pesticide so that you’ll know the proper handling of the following chemical. Recklessness in using pesticides may endanger your life and the lives of the people surrounding you.