Goal: Limit Pesticide Use

The major problems we face today with pesticides is its ability to remain in the air, in oceans, in the human body, and is attached to our fruits, vegetables, and meats which we intake. This in turn leads to permanent, serious health problems. Pesticides also harm natural animals, which live in fields, ponds, and other habitats that pesticides are sprayed in.

There are many different types of pesticides, nearly one for every specific type of task. Acaricides for mites, ticks, and spiders, Antimicrobial for bacteria and viruses, attractant which attracts pests for monitoring and killing, avicides for birds, fungicides for fungi, herbicides for weeds, insecticides for insects, molluscicides for snails and slugs, piscicides for fish, predacides for vertebrate predators, repellents to repel pests, rodenticide for rodents, and synergists which improves the performance of another pesticide.

Pesticides are used on 900,000 farms and 70 million households in America. Herbicides are the most popular, as they are used in agriculture and used widely on lawns to control weeds. Although farming consists of 75% use of all herbicides, it has been shown that households use the same amount of herbicides per acre as farmers. Pesticide use became widespread around World War 2, when new, inexpensive chemicals were introduced. Many began to use pesticides casually and profusely, and as a result the pests they were trying to eradicate became genetically immune to the chemicals, while plants and animals that were not targeted were harmed, and pesticides emerged in many unexpected areas.
Reference: ipm.ncsu.edu/safety/factsheets/pestuse

Pesticides and herbicides ruin the soil. Each gram of soil contains one billion microbes, which are destroyed when the chemicals enter the soil. Bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa are all micro-organisms that live within the top layer of soil. These micro-organisms are important to the decomposition in the soil and help recycle organic materials. They also help plants ingest the necessary nutrients needed to keep the plant healthy. Acenaphthene, a certain kind of PAH (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is the term that defines numerous contaminants), is a chemical that attaches readily to soil. Over time, soil that has been chemically treated will decrease in nitrogen compounds, so more pesticide will be required.

Because of persistent use, pesticides and herbicides are ingrained into our agricultural crops. Nearly all PAHs are difficult to disintegrate with or in water, so PAH is also present in waterways. Thus, with the chemicals in soil and water, the plant’s inner structure could become infested by absorbing the chemicals through the soil.

Surface runoff of pesticides into lakes and streams which then lead to the ocean is another issue. Agriculture also plays a large role in contamination; when the soil is tilled every year, rainwater shifts billions of tons of topsoil into waterways. Also many farms use herbicides excessively at unsuitable times such as high precipitation. This not only wastes the herbicides but produces large amounts of pollution which run off into downstreams. A chemical called organochlorine runs off land and into bodies of water, thereby also polluting the seafood supply. Fish are eaten mainly for their important source of fatty acids, but organochlorine becomes stored in the fatty tissue of fish and contaminates it. Another popular pesticide, DDT, is able to genetically change the gender of fish.

Chemicals in pesticides are proven to damage brain cells and the nervous system.  One particular chemical, sarin, is able to harm memory, thinking, mood, muscle control, numerous brain functions, and block nerve conduction. Sarin changes the genes of proteins that are crucial to the brain and causes brain cell death in high amounts of exposure. Additionally, sarin alters a membrane that keeps toxic substances away from the brain, genes that help oxygen species from cell damage and control the aging process, and genes that generate growth and stress hormones.
References: truehealth.org, ipm.ncsu.edu

Since pesticides will most likely never be banned in the U.S., we should at most take more precautions and limit our use of pesticides. Another responsible option is to not spray herbicides next to or near widely used roads and public places. Several methods include the natural way of pulling weeds by hand, rotating crops, interplanting different crops together, using natural fertilizers, and insect traps and barriers.

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