Often times, when people consume produce products they don’t think to consider the process it took to preserve the produce from going bad or being consume by pests. “A pesticide is a chemical used to prevent, destroy, or repel pests. Pests can be insects, mice and other animals, weeds, fungi, or microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses” (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2012). “A pest can by any plants or animals that endangers our food supply, health or comfort” (Delaplane, 1996). Pesticide is a broad term that includes things such as insecticide, herbicide, and fungicide. Most pesticides that are used contain chemicals that can be harmful to people, animals, and the ...view middle of the document...
DDT's quick success as a pesticide and broad use in the United States and other countries led to the development of resistance by many insect pest species” (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2012). DDT was so effective at killing pests and thus boosting crop yields and was so inexpensive to make that its use quickly spread over the globe. In 1948, Muller was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for its discovery. DDT was also used for many non-agricultural applications as well such as to delouse soldiers in WWII and, until the 1960 to control mosquitoes in residential areas of the US. In this essay, I will discuss the effects pesticides have on the environment, wildlife, and human health.
Pesticides Effect on the Environment
According to Cornell entomologist David Pimentel, “[i]t has been estimated that only 0.1% of applied pesticides reach the target pests, leaving the bulk of the pesticides (99.9%) to impact the environment”. Pesticides can travel great distances through the environment. When sprayed on crops or in gardens, pesticides can be blown by the wind to other areas. They can also flow with rain water into nearby streams or can seep through the soil into ground water. Pesticides contaminate land and water when it is sprayed and applied. Pesticides have also been known to contribute to air pollution.
Pesticides can reach surface water through runoff from treated plants and soil. The results of a comprehensive set of studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on major river basins across the country in the early to mid- 90s yielded startling results. More than 90 percent of water and fish samples from all streams contained one, or more often, several pesticides (Kole et al; 2001). Pesticide sprays can directly hit non-target vegetation, or can drift or volatilize from the treated area and contaminate air, soil, and non-target plants. Some pesticide drift occurs during every application, even from ground equipment (Glotfelty and Schomburg, 1989). According to the USGS, pesticides have been detected in the atmosphere in all sampled areas of the USA (Savonen, 1997). Nearly every pesticide investigated has been detected in rain, air, fog, or snow across the nation at different times of the year (U.S. Geological Survey, 1999). Many pesticides have been detected in air at more than half the sites sampled nationwide.
Groundwater is also being polluted due to pesticides. According to the USGS, at least 143 different pesticides and 21 transformation products have been found in ground water, including pesticides from every major chemical class. Over the past two decades, detections have been found in the ground water of more than 43 states (Waskom, 1994).
Pesticides Effect on Wildlife
In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish and beneficial insects. Honeybees, bats, and frogs are just the few of the many wildlife that are affected by the...