Pesticides are often a part of today’s agriculture. These chemicals are sprayed on almost everything we eat, from vegetables to cereals to dried pulses to grains. But a questioner may wonder if using such chemicals is acceptable. Are they hazardous to our health? And if so, how harmful can that be?
The word “pesticides” refers to chemicals used to kill or discourage insects and pests that would destroy the crop, such as grasshoppers and weeds. These toxic chemicals are very dangerous but although some of them (such as DDT) are banned, more than 1,000 pesticides are still used worldwide.
One characteristic of these pesticides is that they kill noxious weeds and prevent pests from happening. What about people? Are these pesticides entering the water detrimental to their health? Pesticides in the water supply seep into groundwater and about 95 percent of people living in agricultural areas depend on groundwater for their drinking water. Pesticide concentrations tend to be higher in agricultural areas because pesticides are widely used in these areas.
Once in the environment, pesticides can easily spread and be found using precipitation, filtration, runoff, and wind. Once on-site, chemicals can remain in groundwater for decades, even as efforts are made to reduce the use of pesticides on the surface.
There is a group of these pesticides known as carbamates, which are very soluble in water. They can therefore frequently appear in our water springs. Indeed, studies have proven the presence of carbamates and their transformation products in drinking water.
The effects of pesticides on people are as diverse as the chemicals themselves. For example, organophosphates and carbamates affect the nervous system, while others cause eye or skin irritation. They may also be carcinogenic or disruptive to the body’s endocrine system. Scientists are working on the acute and chronic effects of pesticide use.
Pesticides are detected at low concentrations, and as such, acute toxic effects such as nausea or chemical burns are not a concern for most people. Agricultural workers and gardening engineers who apply herbicides and pesticides directly are likely to be at the highest risk. yet many are concerned that these chemicals may accumulate over time, leading to greater and more severe health effects.
Luckily, only a small amount of the pesticide was found in the treated drinking water. However, more light is required on how pesticides influence drinking water with respect to cumulative exposure and conversion products. The reality is that there are a lot of herbicides and insecticides in the environment. There is a lack of understanding of the health effects of cumulative exposure to these compounds, This means that general risk assessments may underestimate the possible health effects of pesticide exposure.
We reported that scientists had discovered pesticide byproducts in drinking water. Pesticide transformation products are new chemicals that develop when a parent compound (such as DDT) reacts under different conditions, e.g., sunlight, bacteria in the environment, or UV treatment in a water treatment facility. Sometimes these transformation products are more poisonous than the original compound. Engineers and scientists need to identify the multiple conversion products that develop when chemicals enter our treatment systems, so that water is treated appropriately.