Pesticides are widely used in agricultural sectors in many countries in order to effectively kill or control pests including insects, fungi, plants, bacteria, etc. Pesticides fall into three classes which include insecticides (insect control), herbicides (weed control) and fungicides (fungi and mold control). There are any different types of pesticides which vary from DDT to glyphosate to aldicarb, etc.1. Pesticides can also be created in liquid, solid and gaseous forms and has the ability to persist in areas where it is applied for extended periods before it begins to degrade2.
Overall, pesticides can cause many issues to the human body and the environment since it there are evidence that supports the positive correlation between pesticide use/exposure and cancer3.
For many years, the human population used pesticides to help combat and control pests so that their agricultural land can remain intact as well as to prevent the spread of diseases that many pests carry. Based on the scientific research and evidence provided, it was discovered that there is a positive correlation between the continuous use/exposure of pesticides and the increase in cancer rates3.
Critical periods of exposure of pesticides were reported to cause different types of cancer including brain, kidney and prostate cancers as well as Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia amongst the adult and youth population3.
There are many environmental sources of exposure to pesticides as of 21st century – both indoors and outdoors – such as household products, garden/lawn products, pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, pesticide run-off from agricultural lands, etc.
In the past, the main source of exposure to pesticides were the direct inhalation and contact of pesticides in extreme amounts (a time where pesticides were deemed safe)4.
The exposure of pesticides is considered to be a chemical environmental hazard since an increase in exposure of pesticides can cause negative effects to the human body therefore causing an increase in the development of cancer due to its hazardous chemical ingredients/composition.
There are many policies that currently exist in Ontario to help mitigate the exposure of pesticides amongst workers which can be found in the Pesticides Act as well as the Pest Control Products Act5.
Some of the policies include:
Current policies for the exposure of pesticides do not need to be improved as it definitely helped to minimize the amount of pesticide use in order to decrease the amount of cancer within the human population (compared to the use of pesticides in the late 1930s to mid-1970s where pesticides became a huge issue).
Even though the current policies are sufficient, additional research should be implemented on the current safer/alternative pesticides to help ensure that the ingredients in the pesticides are in fact safe to use as some countries “discovered” that certain ingredients that they thought were safe weren’t safe at all and therefore cause the development of cancer and premature death. An example of this would be the glyphosate lawsuit in Canada, reported by article from The Western Producer, in which many pesticides (specially a product called Roundup) users and researchers thought that it was safe to purchase and use this pesticide on their agricultural/outdoor land but due to the lack of research, it turned out that a common pesticide ingredient called glyphosate was discovered to be the cause of the increase in cancer among the pesticide user population6.
Policymakers should also create one additional policy that indicates that agriculture-produced crop should wash/rinse their produce before distributing them worldwide since some individuals do not wash their hands or produce therefore ingesting the pesticides as well as getting direct skin contact. Washing/rinsing the pesticides off of the produce may also help prevent the human population from inhaling the pesticides off of the produce as well as preventing the pesticides from contaminating the surface areas where the produce are stored (individuals may touch the pesticide-contaminated surfaces with their hands which individuals may unknowingly touch their faces or lick their fingers).