Chemicals are used around the world in order to aid crop growth and eliminate bug infestations. The pesticides are used to eliminate disease carrying insects such as mosquitos, ticks, rats and mice. Farmers tend to use pesticides more often in order to keep their crops alive and undamaged by these disease carriers. Agriculture is a large part of most societies and without it, large amounts of food supplies will diminish. These pesticides are used in order to maintain the agricultural growth which assists farmers earn their livelihood and helps citizens maintain a decent food supply. Using pesticides has advantages for the nation’s food supply, the effects on human living is far more detrimental.
Farmers, working with the pesticides in such close proximity, are at a high risk for the aftermath of these dangerous chemicals. Common effects of working around these chemicals include various forms of cancer; lung, brain, bone, breast, ovarian, prostate, testicular and liver cancers are most prominent. Some shorter term effects include headaches and nausea. A study health by the National Cancer Institution found results stating that farmers in America, who worked in close relations with pesticides, began developing leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease and various other forms of cancer. It is also known that chemicals can cause irregularities among hormone levels, reproduction and embryonic development. When these chemicals affect the reproductive system, there is a large chance that the women could be infertile and the child could be born with multiple birth defects. Living on or near a farm is very harmful to the body because, most likely, these citizens have experienced long time exposure to these chemicals. The most common long term effects are increased risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancers, depression, respiratory problems and muscle problems. These farmers use pesticides to protect their plants, but when the pesticides begin hurting the farmers, who will protect them?
Following farmers, children are the most susceptible of experiencing the hazards that pesticide use evokes. The reason child have a higher risk than most adults is due to their size and body proportionality. In other words, most food and some forms of water contain pesticides. Compared to the body weight and size, children eat a higher proportion of food compared to their adult counterparts; they ingest more food and water per kilogram. Therefore, when children digest more produce, they are, in turn, digest more pesticides. Additionally, the toxins remain in the children’s bodies longer. Children tend to play close to the ground and younger children specifically tend to put their fingers in their mouths. If they are in an area where pesticide use is common, chances are, they are putting harmful chemicals into their body. Also, children’s brains, immune systems and nervous systems are not fully developed which can lead to greater harm as a result of absorbing these hazardous substances. Without these necessities completely formed, children are less capable of fighting off the pesticides which could lead to greater impacts. It was discovered by the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry that children exposed to pesticides in their homes are two times as likely to develop brain cancer and six times as likely to develop autism. It is also very common to witness a child who was exposed to these chemicals have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, lower IQ scores and motor skill impairment. Children are innocent beings who live carefree but tend to get hurt due to these harmful chemicals.
Although the harm that pesticides cause is extensive against people, they still damage the environment. A common harm to the environment is due to the use of pesticides in lakes and other bodies of water. In 1957, there was an investigation at Michigan State University that explored robin fatalities. As a result of the investigation, it was found that DDT in the Great Lakes caused the deaths of the robins. Another result of the study about DDT in the Great Lakes was “evidence of effects on reproduction in herring gulls as a result of poor hatchability of the eggs” (Johnson). It was discovered that fish-eating birds often experience reproductive complications and failures. Additionally, eggs were gathered from the Great Lakes and were brought to hatcheries. However, nearly 700,000 young fish died during the early stages of their lives. This event occurred in other hatcheries in different states as well. The levels of DDT in Lake Michigan was much higher in comparison to other bodies of water. In fact, DDT residues in Lake Michigan is 60 times higher than the Pacific Ocean and two to three times higher than Lake Michigan.
Various types of animals are being harmed due to the process of using insecticides and pesticides. In 2006, beekeepers noticed that bees fled their hives and began dying; immediately the keepers knew something was wrong. The named this event the Colony Collapse Disorder. Shortly after this disorder was diagnosed, scientists came to the realization that pesticides were to blame for this event. Most pesticides are deadly to bees and scientists notices that there was a “cocktail of toxic pesticides in the wax and honey” in bee hives (Pesticide Action Network). Another case of animals being contaminated by pesticides is male tadpoles becoming female. A study in the 90s lead to the finding that male tadpoles, that were exposed to a certain pesticide, were growing ovaries in their testes. In fact, these tadpoles that transformed, can even mate and reproduce with other male tadpoles.
In conclusion, the harm that pesticides create is extremely hazardous to a variety of people. Pesticides have detrimental effects on people and the environment. However, the damages they cause the environment far outweigh the damages they cause to nature. These chemicals cause deathly illness, if not death, to thousands of people, specifically those who are in close proximities to the pesticides. The effects chemicals have on the environment cause a smaller amount of deaths and mutations. People who experience the downfalls of the chemicals go through tremendous suffering. Farmers and children, specifically, seem to struggle the most with repercussions of pesticides. Farmers administer the pesticides while children ingest more in comparison to body mass. All in all, chemicals may be helpful to stabilize plant growth, but they are extremely hazardous to human health.
Johnson, Howard E. "Organic Pesicide Pollution in an Aquatic Environment." Advances in Chemistry. Vol. 111. East Lansing: Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, 2009. 1-10.
Pesticide Action Network. n.d. <http://www.panna.org/resources/environmental-impacts>.
Priesnitz, Wendy. "Pesticide Use is Abuse of our Children's Environment." Natural Life 79 (2001).