Consumers have diverse views and preferences about pesticide use. The public is becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of pesticides on their health and the local ecosystem. The public generally believes that insects, diseases, and other pests need to be controlled but also believes that there are effective alternatives to pesticides. This diversity has important implications for public policy, marketing, and risk communication. While the debate continues about whether pesticide residue problems are real or perceived, there are real problems all should be directing their efforts toward solving.
Pesticides are not a homogeneous group of chemicals. There are many different chemicals with many different characteristics, potential health risks and potential environmental effects. Exposure to pesticides can cause acute or chronic effects on health. Acute (or short-term) effects generally occur immediately after heavy exposure to pesticides, and are well documented.
A chronic effect develops over a long period of time, and may last for several years after initial exposure. The effect may be related to long-term or repeated exposure to a pesticide at a low dosage, or to exposure to a high dosage for a short time. Chronic health effects typically include cancer, interference with the development of the fetus and child, and disruption of the reproductive, endocrine, immune and/or central nervous systems (neurotoxic effects).
Many studies published in prestigious, peer-reviewed medical and epidemiological journals and reports point to strong associations between chemical pesticides and serious health consequences, including--endocrine disruption and fertility problems, birth defects, brain tumors and brain cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, childhood leukemia, cancer clusters in communities, gastric or stomach cancer, learning disabilities, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, canine malignant lymphoma, and various acute effects.
There is controversy surrounding the identification of many chronic effects of pesticide exposure, because of inconsistencies in the research, contradictions among existing studies, and because of data gaps. It is difficult, therefore, to demonstrate a conclusive link between pesticides and certain illnesses.
Despite the confounding factors in these studies, it is clear that the potential for serious impact on human health is cause for concern. While the evidence may be limited, the hypotheses developed by the scientific community are of sufficient concern that they warrant further investigation.
Learn more on pesticide risks & perceptions through the following links
Human Health Risks
Human Health Studies
: Pesticide Education Center - Some topics of interest at this website are Cancer in Children & Pesticide Exposure, Cancer in Adults & Pesticide Exposure, Chronic neurological effects of pesticides, Reproductive Outcome and Pesticide Exposure
Understanding Endocrine Disruption - Evidence suggests that environmental exposure to some anthropogenic chemicals may result in disruption of endocrine systems in human and wildlife populations. A number of the classes of chemicals suspected of causing endocrine disruption fall within the purview of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA
) mandates to protect both public health and the environment. Although there is a wealth of information regarding endocrine disruptors, many critical scientific uncertainties still remain. >>More
Health & Safety Data
- Pesticides - World Health Organization/Food & Agriculture Organization provides scientific data on chemicals
Environmental & Health Effects
- Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) - This website presents our extensive collection of PANNA reports, articles, guides, videos, databases, links and other resources.
Impact on the Environment
Impacts on the Animals: Non-Target Species
Surveys on Public Perceptions