This article reviews the main issues related to pesticide residues, their environmental fate, and effects and discusses pathways for enhanced food safety. Agricultural production markedly increased since the beginning of the 20th century to cope with demographic growth. In about one century, population numbers exploded from 1.
The world has added one more billion people since , and at the current growth rates, it is estimated that world population will be of about 9. The increase of world population in the 20th century would not have been possible without a parallel growth in food production, and this was achieved due to fertilizers.
For example, in the USA from to , the cereal production grew at 2. From the s onwards, further increase in food production was allowed by the introduction of synthetic crop protection chemicals. Pesticides, or crop protection chemicals, include several groups of compounds, namely organochlorine, organophosphate, carbamate, pyrethroids, growth regulators, neonicotinoids, and now biopesticides, which have been developed one after the other. Pesticide sales have increased for all types of pesticides, but herbicides were the group that expanded the most followed by insecticides and fungicides Fig.
Average application rates of pesticides per hectare of arable land have been computed by FAO and the highest average values, attaining 6. While in North America and West Europe, the use of herbicides intensively applied in agriculture and in urban areas boomed in the last decades; in Asia, the use of herbicides remained low and contrasting with the use of insecticides that was very high Fig. Early synthetic pesticides developed to control agriculture pests, such as DDT, were intensively used also for control of cattle ticks and human parasites in North America, Europe, and elsewhere Fig.
At different times in different regions, some or all these techniques have been used. Many cases of intoxication of farmers, rural workers, and their families did occur during pesticide applications and were documented in reports on poisoning and effects of synthetic chemicals on human health. It was reported that unintentional poisonings kill an estimated , people globally each year, and such poisonings are strongly associated with excessive exposure and inappropriate use of toxic chemicals WHO , , Alavanja ; Alavanja and Bonner Early reports and structured incident reporting systems certainly helped to develop regulations for pesticide applications, including dosage of chemicals and best periods of application Hester and Harrison Over the years, a considerable research effort was developed also to understand the behavior of these chemicals in the environment, including their cycling and fate as well as their toxicity to biota.
Soon after the start of synthetic chemicals use, it was realized that the application of crop protection pesticides was causing contamination not only at local scale but also at global scale Carson ; Fig. At global scale, compounds such as hexacyclohexanes HCH , chlordane, and toxaphene applied in fields in the south of USA were volatilized, transported by atmospheric processes, condensed in cooler climates, and deposited from the atmosphere onto the Great Lakes at Canada Li and Jin The most volatile compounds were more rapidly transported by atmospheric processes, reaching regions far away from the application areas Fig.
Organochlorine residues are generally transferred also in the food chains with impact on human health discussed further in section Human Exposures to Residues and Public Health Concerns, below. Development of resistance by pests to these OC chemicals urged to replace them by new and less persistent chemicals, such as organophosphate OP , carbamate, and pyrethroid compounds, supposedly more specific in the fight to pests too The Agrochemicals Handbook Organochlorine compounds, such as DDT, HCH, heptachlor, toxaphene, and lindane, are in general, much more persistent and their residues may remain in soils and sediments over days, weeks, and even years Fig.
Taking into account chemical properties and persistence in the environment, chemicals applied in agriculture fields may be transported and reach other ecosystems Fig. Compounds of different chemical groups have different toxic mechanisms and act on pest organisms in different ways. Organochlorine compounds insecticides, e. Organophosphates mostly insecticides, e. Pyrethroids insecticides, e. The neonicotinoids insecticides, e.
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The mechanism for toxic action is not restricted to target pests, and toxicity is exerted also on nontarget similar organisms causing damage to biodiversity and ecosystems health. OCs impacted heavily the top predators in terrestrial food chains, as birds of prey, and accumulate in adipose tissues of animals and humans, being transferred to newborns with the milk fat, and act as endocrine disruptor EEA Organophosphates were reported as highly toxic to arthropods in general, which includes insects but also shrimp, crabs and other crustacean, and also to vertebrates.
Pyrethroids have also impact on insects and vertebrates. However, from the massive application of OCs in the past, they are still present in soils, in sediments, and in the biosphere and are toxic. Indeed, the ban of persistent OC compounds in agriculture abated application of OC pesticides in many regions but was not the end of concerns about toxic effects of these compounds. Today, we still find these OC compounds in environmental compartments as a legacy of past applications.
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Soils are the main reservoir of persistent OCs, and soil erosion, surface runoff, and river discharges carry and cycle significant amounts of persistent OCs in the environment. For example, results from the annual surveys of USA pollution trends reported pesticide residues in coastal sediments and biota mussels and oysters originated in river catchments. Many years after the ban of these compounds e. DDT, chlordane , they were still present in the coastal environment where they degraded very slowly, as reflected by decreasing concentrations in biota over the years Fig.
Pesticide residues carried to the sea are also a threat to large marine ecosystems such as coral reefs. Contamination of aquatic bodies by residues from periodic application of pesticides in crops was, thus, found in many environments, and this called for preventive measures. Organochlorine compounds residues are almost always present in environmental samples although in decreasing concentrations with the years, as reported, for example, in Denmark.
This is very worrisome because this widespread presence of chemical residues compromises natural resources such as water for human consumption including groundwater and water for aquaculture activities. Water quality for aquaculture is, however, more difficult to ensure because aquaculture itself makes use of chemicals.
Residues from these chemicals, plus natural toxins from harmful algal blooms, dioxins, and PCBs, put the quality of coastal waters and the aquaculture production under pressure of contamination SEP Discharges of industrial waste water and urban sewage into water lines and coastal zones have been a common procedure in most countries. The adoption of urban sewage treatment and their success has always been introduced, or attained late. One may recall the impact of pesticide residues on corals, fisheries, and shrimp aquaculture to understand that contamination has been always followed by ecological disasters and public health impacts, before regulations and mitigation measures were adopted.
Increasing awareness of contamination multiplied the monitoring efforts that are continuously developing now. The importance of controlling contamination of aquatic systems goes beyond the immediate need for water with quality for human consumption. Toxic residues in aquatic systems may eliminate aquatic species, reduce biodiversity, and compromise the functioning of ecosystems.
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A large research effort has been made in aquatic toxicology to understand bioaccumulation mechanisms and define toxicity levels to species selected as representative plants, crustacean, fish and elaborate guidelines for pollution control within tolerated limits Rand Eventually, instead refining toxicity testing and determination of LD 50 , we should move the efforts to develop processes to remove contaminants from soils and effluents and prevent them to attain aquatic systems and bioaccumulate in food chains.
A few more are occupationally exposed during the use pesticides in sanitary campaigns and for lawn and garden applications Alavanja Learn more about keeping lakes safe from pesticides. Toxins in the Garden [pdf] Science shows that pesticide use puts family and community health at risk. Learn how you can keep your garden healthy. By learning from one another, sharing resources and tactics, and connecting to create a powerful movement across the state, we can safeguard our clean air and clean water as well as protect the health of humans, pollinators, and wildlife.
The Problem: Pesticides can be found in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Health: Pesticides are incredibly harmful to human health. South Portland, Maine: Toxics Action Center helped Protect South Portland pass one of the strongest pesticides restrictions in the country, an ordinance banning the use of harmful pesticides.
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The ordinance has come into effect in the City over three years, starting in Spring with City property, then in with residential property, and finally in with golf courses. Champlain Valley, Vermont: We worked with residents to successfully limit the spraying of pesticides to control mosquitos on farms, schools and waterways.
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By transitioning to safer, nontoxic methods, residents worked to ensure this toxic spraying no longer threatened their community. Food Systems: Pesticides can also contaminate our food, harm pollinators, and threaten our ecosystems. Corporate Profit: Pesticides are immensely profitable for the corporations who manufacture them.
The Solution: The real solution to our pest and weed problems lies in non-toxic and cultural methods, not in pulling the pesticide trigger. Our community goals include: Reducing pesticide use Fighting for the right to know who is using chemicals, where, when, how, what pesticides are being used, and why Protecting our communities, workers, and children Pushing for better testing Ensuring the health of our pollinators and food systems Solutions for Pesticide-Free Communities: Here are some helpful resources to ensure your community is pesticide-free.
Want to Make a Difference in Massachusetts? To learn more, contact us at action toxicsaction. Effects of pesticides on wildlife. In Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology, W. Hayes, Jr. Lawes, Jr. Academic Press, New York. Day, K. Acute chronic and sublethal effects of synthetic pyrethroids in freshwater. Domsch, K. Influence of plant protection chemicals on the soil microflora: Review of the literature. Biologische Bundesanstalt Land-Forstirwch. Berlin Dahlem, , 5.
An ecological concept for the assessment of the side-effects of agrochemicals on soil microorganisms. Residue Reviews, 86 , Dover, M. World Resources Institute, Washington D. Duffus, J. Environmental Toxicology. Eckert, J. Historical development of fungicide resistance in plant pathogens. In Fungicide Resistance in N. America, C. Delp ed.
American Phytopathological Society Press, St. Paul, 1—3.taburlahoottou.tk
Pesticide Chemistry: Human Welfare and the Environment
Edwards, C. Insecticide residues in soils. Residue Reviews, 13 , 83— Persistent Pesticides in the Environment 2nd ed. Press, Cleveland, Ohio, pp. Environmental Pollution by Pesticides. Plenum Press, London and New York, pp. Nature and origins of pollution of aquatic systems by pesticides.
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