The harmful effects of pesticides have been widely documented. Sure, they can be used to help you in the garden by getting rid of bad weeds and insects, among them grubs and aphids. But be aware that the use of pesticides is hardly what you’d call “green”; furthermore, pesticides pose a number of health hazards to you as well as your family.
Here are the top reasons why you should stop using pesticides:
Pesticides harm your soil
As poisons, pesticides kill certain pests, but they also lower the quality of your soil by killing those insects and active soil organisms that are essential to soil fertility. This then leads to bad water retention and other similar soil problems. You’re basically killing off what you are trying to grow. Want to have a higher yield, particularly in times of drought? Ditch the pesticides.
Pesticides decrease biodiversity and contaminate the water
Another one of the harmful effects of pesticides is that it decreases biodiversity – especially in water and aquatic systems. When they leach through the soil and run off into waterways like rivers and streams, pesticides kill the fish and contaminate the water. According to a recent US Geological Survey, 30 to 60 percent of our wells are contaminated with at least one pesticide, and 14.1 million people regularly drink water that contains five major agricultural herbicides, none of which can be removed by treatment plants.
Pesticides contribute to air pollution
Pesticide spray can drift through the air and be carried miles from where it was originally used. That’s how pesticides can be detected miles away from agricultural sites, or in snow and rainfall. Some highly mobile pesticides – like atrazine – can even travel as far out as 600 miles from where they were first sprayed. They’re a persistent bunch, too, and are pretty hard to break down into less harmful components. The result? Contaminated groundwater, and pesticides drifting to harm the ozone layer and contribute to global warming. Birds’ habitats are also reduced, while endangered species are further threatened.
Pesticides can kill
Chronic exposure to pesticides leads to symptoms like burning, stinging, itching, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, coughs, and other forms of irritation. It can also lead to pesticide poisoning, which can actually cause death or contribute to neurological damage, like epilepsy and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, in a recent US study, pesticides have been tied to ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity) in children. Meanwhile, 18,000 workers in agriculture in developing countries die every year from severe pesticide poisoning.
Pesticides contaminate food
Seventy percent of non-organic fruits and vegetables – and 100 percent of milk samples – are said to be contaminated with at least one pesticide. That’s a scary thought, especially if you’re a fruit salad lover. It may be time to shop for organic food!