Pesticides are manufactured or natural chemicals that are used to eradicate unnecessary animal pests such as rodents and insects as well as plant pests such as weeds. Pesticides may also cause harm to other living things including human beings, animals, and plants. Pesticides can pollute the air, the soil and water bodies such as rivers and streams (Conant 3). Pesticides may include insecticides, which are used to kill insects, fungicides that are used to control plant diseases, herbicides, which are used to kill weeds, and rodenticides, which are used to kill rodents (Conant 3). Pesticides are usually used agriculturally to yield large quantities of food crops. They come in various forms such as liquids, gases or powder and are applied in different ways.
Pesticides have several advantageous effects. Some of these effects may include crop protection, whereby pesticides protect crops from being attacked by pests. Pesticides help in disease-control in both plants and human beings. In plants, fungicides kill fungi that may cause diseases to plants. In human beings, pesticides in the form of insecticides can be used to enhance human health by preventing diseases like malaria, which is caused by the female anopheles mosquito. Other diseases that can be prevented by using insecticides include sleeping sickness, yellow fever, typhoid, and black plague. Pesticides are also used in the preservation of food crops (World Health Organization 4). With respect to agriculture, the use of pesticides on farms has led to essential improvements in crop yields. Farms that are sprayed with pesticides produce a higher yield than those that have not been sprayed. When it comes to forestry, spraying of forestland with pesticides helps to kill moths that destroy trees and hence help to save the natural environment.
On the other hand, pesticides have very many disadvantages and they are detrimental to the environment and public health. For pesticides to be effective, they have to be toxic. Since pesticides are toxic, they become unsafe to animals, humans, and other organisms, as they are poisonous. Human beings are exposed to pesticides through their hands, eyes, mouth, and nose. People exposed to pesticides may experience several health symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, chest pains and difficulty in breathing, muscle cramps, skin itching and rashes, and increased secretions from the eyes and the nose (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 4). Severe effects of pesticide poisoning may include unconsciousness, loss of control over bowel movements, shaking, and blue fingernails and lips (Conant 5). If applied wrongly on crops, pesticide remains on unwashed vegetables and fruits can cause health problems such as birth defects and immune system problems (United States Environmental Protection Agency 1). Some of the long-term effects of exposure to pesticides are that it may lead to blood cancer and lung damage due to constant inhaling of the pesticide. It may also cause damage to the liver since over time the liver will be incapable of cleaning the blood and getting rid of poisons, which is its main duty. It damages the nervous system since the pesticides damage the brain and the immune system making it weak and unable to fight diseases. In reproductive health, it can cause infertility in women and sterility in men (Conant 14-15).
In conclusion, I believe that the use of pesticides should be banned, since as it is evident the harmful effects of using them outweigh the positive effects. Companies that manufacture pesticides market their products to farmers and guarantee them greater yields but these companies just want to make a profit from the sale of these pesticides. Farmers should control pests in their farms using other safer methods that do not include the use of pesticides and if it is necessary to use pesticides, then they should use it sparingly. They should also wear protective clothing when handling pesticides.
Conant, Jeff. “Pesticides are Poison.” Hesperian Organization, n.d. Web. 19 May 2015. < http://hesperian.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/environmental/EHB_pesticides_EN_watermark.pdf>
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “Pesticide Safety Handbook.” National Institute of Health Sciences, 2002. Web. 19 May 2015. <http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/pesticide_safety_handbook_english_508.pdf>
United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Pesticides Reduction.” Environmental Protection Agency, August 1997. Web. 19 May 2015. <http://www.epa.gov/region5/waste/solidwaste/p2pages/pdfs/tb-pesticides.pdf>
World Health Organization. “Children’s Health and the Environment.” World Health Organization, July 2008. Web. 19 May 2015. <http://www.who.int/ceh/capacity/Pesticides.pdf>