Pesticides are dangerous by design. Their job, after all, is to wipe out living organisms, so it’s no surprise that they may cause health risks to people in some cases. Health risks depend not only on the toxicity of a pesticide’s ingredients, but also how much you’re exposed to them. In addition, some people, like children, pregnant women, sick people and the elderly may be more sensitive to the effects of pesticides than others, points out the National Pesticide Information Center, a project of Oregon State University and the EPA.
Many studies look at people who come in direct contact with pesticides because they apply them as a profession or because they are exposed to them in their homes, work or schools. Ingesting small amounts of pesticides in food may be cause for concern, but often studies do not clearly differentiate between direct contact, limited exposure and ingestion.
I – Word Understanding
Pesticide – a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals
Toxicity – the degree of being poisonous
Ingest – to swallow or absorb food, drinks or another substance into the body
II – Have Your Say
A. Are you worried about pesticides in food? What do you do to avoid these harmful substances?
B. Several studies have examined the link between pesticides and various health issues, including:
1. Research has found links between some pesticide exposure and childhood leukemia, brain cancer, and lymphoma, as well as associations with breast cancer.
2. Pesticide exposure prenatally and in children has been investigated as a source of behavioral problems, neurodevelopmental delays and impaired motor skills.
3. Some chemicals in pesticides can disrupt chemicals such as estrogens, thyroid and androgens, which may impact reproduction and fertility.
4. Farmers exposed to certain pesticides have a 70 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
5. Like other chemicals, pesticides can result in irritation for some people depending on how much they are exposed.