Community Education on Environment and Development

What are pesticides?

Pesticides is the generic, general name for: herbicides, vermicides, fungicides, rodenticides and miticides.

They are poisons designed to kill insects, plants, fungi, moulds and rodents. The word “cide “ comes from the latin and means to kill. We know it from the word “homicide”: to kill a person.

Pesticides contain “active” ingredients (the chemicals intended to kill the pests), and so-called “inert” ingredients. These are considered trade secrets, and although in many cases they can be even more toxic than “active” chemicals, most consumers are completely unaware they exist.

Not only do pesticides kill the “pests” but often they also kill beneficial insects and plants. Even when used as directed, pesticides have many negative side effects on human health and the environment.

Pesticides can harm the people who apply them as well as bystanders. The World Health Organization reports that each year approximately 3 million people are poisoned by pesticides around the world, with as many as 50% of them being children under the age of 10. And that is just the immediate danger! Long -term dangers are unknown.

Pesticides threaten family pets. Dogs from homes with lawns that have been sprayed with pesticides have a higher than average rate of the canine equivalent of lymphoma. Cancer is now the number one cause of deaths in dogs.

Pesticides will kill wildlife and harm habitats. Chemicals drift with the wind or are waterborne or get absorbed into the groundwater and soils. Eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, gulls and weasels along with fish, reptiles, frogs and wildflowers are all vulnerable.

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