Pesticides. A discussion of environmental and health hazards

Seminar Paper, 2013

14 Pages, Grade: 5



1 Introduction

2 Health hazards
2.1. Poisoning
2.2. Chronic diseases

3. Environmental hazards
3.1. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
3.2. Fruit and vegetables
3.3. Environmental degradation
3.4. Production and storage

4. Different roles and strategies
4.1. The Government
4.2. The Industry
4.3. User and Retail
4.4. Consumers
4.4. Non-Governmental Organizations

5. Ethical principles

6 Bibliography

1 Introduction

"Of course it is possible, in some places even to increase with the use of pesticides, the yield of intensive agriculture. But it is wrong to conclude that this intensification is worth per se. Because the victims of pesticide use and the costs that are imposed on the public will forget."

Rudolf Susanne. 01.04.2012. Pestizide: Vom Schaden der Schädlingsbekämpfung. Ropress Genossenschaft Zürich

I start with this citation, because these thoughts reflect at large my personal opinion about pesticides. The use and hazards of pesticides are not a main issue in the news, even though they are a problem and danger of our life and our environment.

I will continue with a discussion of environmental and health hazards. After that I will analyze the roles and strategies of different influential groups. I will conclude this work suggesting ethical principles to manage these risks.

2 Health hazards

2.1. Poisoning

Pesticides are mainly used in agriculture, to preserve the health of crops and to prevent their destruction by diseases and pests. Many farmers die because of the use of pesticide but the data is bad. There are many evaluations like the ones of World Health Organization (WHO) who estimated in the 90s the number of unintentional poisonings. The results shows that one million of these people needed hospital help. The deaths were estimated at 20’000. But not only the users are affected. One reason of the high poisonings rate is the fact that the users of pesticides do not have protective clothes and in general have insufficient safeguards, especially in developing countries. A pesticide poisoning can cause the following symptoms: Headaches, dizziness, damage to eyes, salivation, sweating, tightness in the chest, fast heartbeat, increased blood pressure, vomiting, skin rashes, cramps, skin redness, failure, tremor, muscle weakness and bubbles.[1] This fact is well illustrated by the example of Mango Plantation in India. The Mango Plantation workers they mix pesticides without the appropriate personal protective equipment. A medical evaluation has linked the pesticide exposure to respiratory, gastrointestinal, ocular and dermal problems. The problem is not only that they do not have the necessary equipment but also do not know how to use pesticides in a safety way.[2]

2.2. Chronic diseases

Many substances which are known to cause cancer, damage the nervous system and cause many more chronic diseases are still used worldwide. A good example is the pesticide DBCP which was prohibited in the USA, because scientists discovered that it causes men-infertility. Even though it was well known, US companies as for example Dole, still used DBCP in the banana plantations in Central America. The problem about pesticides is the difficulty to prove that it causes a specific chronic disease. Chronic diseases can be caused by many reasons and usually it takes a long period of time between the contact with a pesticide and the appearance of a disease. In addition, the users of pesticide normally use not only one specific pesticide but many different ones. The international agency for research on cancer (IARC) sais only that the use of pesticide may cause cancer. Here becomes clear the problem of the evidence. Many studies also show that agricultural occupations are connected to a higher cancer risk. Pesticide can be responsible for many other diseases like diabetes, ADHD, asthma, dermatitis and Parkinson.[3]


[1] Rudolf Susanne. 01.04.2012. Pestizide: Vom Schaden der Schädlingsbekämpfung. Ropress Genossenschaft Zürich

[2] Kesavachandran et al. 2006. Health Status Among Pesticide Applicators at a Mango Plantation in India. Journal of Pesticide Safety Education Vol. 8

[3] Rudolf Susanne. 01.04.2012. Pestizide: Vom Schaden der Schädlingsbekämpfung. Ropress Genossenschaft Zürich

Excerpt out of 14 pages


Pesticides. A discussion of environmental and health hazards
University of Basel  (WWZ)
Environmental Law and Public Policy
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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597 KB
Quote paper
Francesco Vazzano (Author), 2013, Pesticides. A discussion of environmental and health hazards, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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