Pesticides are Poison
Pesticides are poison, period. I don’t use manufactured pesticides anywhere. Yes, it is difficult to find solutions to infestation problems, and we will offer ideas under Companion Plants. Plus, we are always open to fresh ideas, so if you have answers you have used that are organic and are not harmful, please use the blog section to help us all.
Information about the harmful effect of pesticides in all forms is available online, in libraries, and government publications. Meantime, we offer some comments about why we don’t use them and instead seek alternative, environmentally safe controls in our home gardens.
The number and amount of pesticides in our food production system and their long-term effects are hard to determine. The use of pesticides may have unintended consequences. An easy example is DDT. Remember the impact DDT had on the American Bald Eagle and the Condor? If not, check out the short synopsis in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT. Also, Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, “Silent Spring,” was an early warning of environmental consequences of indiscriminate use of pesticides. The book remains relevant today, available in most public libraries, and is one you might want to read.
We use the word pesticides to describe all chemicals used to control pests. They include:
• Insecticides used to kill insects.
• Herbicides kill weeds.
• Fungicides prevent plant diseases.
• Rodenticides kill rats, mice, and other rodents.
Many people exposed to pesticides are workers on large farms and plantations, and they seem to have no choice. Pesticides are never safe. But we hope this chapter will help farmers, plantation workers, and people who use pesticides at home to be as safe as possible.
For small farmers to compete with large farms, they too must use pesticides to produce food. When a poor farmer needs to feed his family today, it isn’t easy to think about his health or his family’s health tomorrow. While pesticides can help produce large amounts of food in the short term, they can cause significant harm to people and the environment over time. After many years of spraying, pests may become resistant to chemicals. Pesticides also kill many non-pest insects and birds that would otherwise control crop pests. Pesticides then fail to help anymore, crop yields go down, and small farmers are significantly affected.
Pesticides in different forms: powders for mixing with water and spraying, granules and dust for dusting, liquids for spraying, coatings on seeds, pellets to kill rodents, and others. Mosquito coils and rat poisons are standard for killing pests at home—pesticides sold in different packages: cans, bottles, buckets, bags, and others. People put pesticides in containers other than the ones they originally came in. No matter what kind of pesticide it is, no matter what form it is in, no matter what kind of package it is in, pesticides are poison!
When pesticides enter the body through the skin
Most pesticide poisonings happen when pesticides get on the skin. If you think you have pesticides on your skin, remove any clothing the pesticides spilled on, and wash with soap and cool water right away.
Rashes are one of the best indicators of poisoning through the skin. Because skin problems may be caused by other things, like a reaction to plants, insect bites, infections, or allergies, it can be hard to know if pesticides cause the problem. If you have skin rashes, talk to other workers to determine if the crop you are working with causes this kind of reaction. If you work with pesticides and have any unexpected skin rashes, treat the problem as if pesticides cause it.
Below is an example of the toxicity of one pesticide
The fungicide chlorothalonil (commonly sold under the trade names Daconil and Bravo) is used on peanuts, tomatoes, potatoes, lawns, turf, and roses. It is the second most widely used agricultural fungicide in the U.S.
Chlorothalonil is irritating to the eyes and skin. People exposed to chlorothalonil can become sensitized to the fungicide and develop severe or persistent reactions.
In laboratory tests, chlorothalonil causes kidney damage, mild anemia, liver damage, embryo loss during pregnancy, oxidative DNA damage (damage to the cell’s genetic material), and cancers of the kidney and stomach. It is classified as a “probable human carcinogen” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Chlorothalonil residues are found regularly on celery and green beans. In groundwater in four states, it has been found in the air approximately a mile from chlorothalonil-treated fields, in Bering Sea fog and seawater samples.
Chlorothalonil is very highly toxic to fish, and concentrations as low as two parts per billion can cause gill damage and anemia. It is also harmful to shrimp, frogs, beneficial microorganisms, and earthworms. In plants, it causes a variety of effects, including reductions in yield.
Chlorothalonil contains the carcinogen hexachlorobenzene. Its primary breakdown product is about thirty times more acutely toxic than chlorothalonil itself and is more persistent in soil.
If you have pets or children that play or use the yard, you can be sure that they will track the stuff in the house, on your furniture, carpets, and skin. Remember that dog who sleeps with you just put pesticides in your bedding. Happy Dreams!
Be careful what you put on your lawns as well as in your garden
Long-term health effects of pesticides
Most pesticide poisoning does not come from only one exposure but contact with pesticides over weeks, months, or years. People exposed this way may not get sick until many years later. It can take 5, 10, 20, 30 years or more to get sick from regular adults’ exposure. How long it takes for illness to show up can depend on many things, such as the person’s age, daily habits, and the kind of sickness. In children, it usually takes less time. Disease from pesticides can start even before a baby is born while the mother is pregnant and in contact with pesticides.
The Hesperian Publishing’s “Pesticides are Poison” publication contains a lot more information concerning health effects and the dangers to reproductive health and congenital disabilities, children and adult poisonings, and immediate treatments and methods identifying pesticide poisoning. Download it and read it. You don’t know if pesticides have been used on your property or not without testing the soil where your garden will be. It might also be prudent to have the garden soil checked around the exterior of your home.
Toxicity of pesticides*
|Toxicity||Approximate amount needed to kill the average person|
|DANGER||Highly toxic||A taste to a teaspoon|
|WARNING||Moderately Toxic||A teaspoon to a tablespoon|
|CAUTION||Low toxicity or comparatively free from danger||
An ounce to more than a pint
*source Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service F-7450
If you choose to use pesticides, please protect yourself and write down your local Poison Control number. If you can’t find the number, contact your local city for information about whom to call and whether there are any local resources available to you.
And remember, pets, especially dogs, will eat almost anything. Pets have an uncanny ability to pluck, bite and roll in plant vegetation and garden fruits and vegetables. Let’s not poison our best friends. Be sure to put your vet’s number under the Poison Control number.