You probably turn to pesticides when you have unwanted bugs and insects in your yard and home. Pesticides are an effective method of pest control, but the next time you reach for the can of bug spray or dust for your tomato plants, you should consider the impact on the environment and your own health.
One of the biggest problems with pesticides is that they affect other species besides the target pests. Runoff can carry the chemicals into other water sources and wind can carry the dust residue into other communities. When chemicals degrade or are not stored correctly, it can contaminate the area where it was kept.
Pesticides have been used in food production for many years. Although there have been many changes in pesticide technology, the residue can still affect us. Even washing fruits and vegetables doesn’t get all the residue off. Children are even more susceptible to the effects of pesticides. The buildup of pesticides in your colon can slowly poison you, causing birth defects, tumors, and blood disorders, just to name a few. Many types of pesticides have even been linked to cancers and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Birds who eat fruit that has been treated with chemicals often lay thin-shelled eggs. These eggs don’t hatch or have imperfect embryos, which leads to fewer members of the species. Birds sometimes eat granules of pesticides which look like food, which can directly kill them.
Fish and other aquatic life can also be effected by pesticide runoff into streams. Even if the fish aren’t directly affected, pesticides can kill off the plankton and algae they feed on. Many animal populations are declining worldwide, and one of the reasons is thought to be the use of so many pesticides.
Pesticides also contribute to air pollution. The wind can blow the dust into the ozone. These chemicals can react with other chemicals in the air and form a pollutant called tropospheric ozone. Pesticides account for about 6% of this ozone pollutant.
When pesticides get into the water supply, they affect the groundwater and rain, thus continuing the cycle. In the US, it’s suggested that pesticides pollute over 90% of the wells sampled by the US Geological Survey. This is the water you drink. Many pesticides also persist in the soil, contaminating it for many years. Soil quality drops when pesticides are used, and this decreases soil conservation.
Because pesticides affect soil quality, the plants are directly impacted. They may not get the nitrogen they need to be fruitful. Plant root hairs may not develop well enough to keep the plant alive. Crop yield is reduced. In 2013, the almond crop in California almost didn’t get pollinated because the bee population decreased due to the use of pesticides. The very plants we are protecting from pests are ultimately hurt by the use of pesticides.
When choosing to use pesticides, you may want to consider more healthy choices before resorting to harsh chemicals. Call Environmental Turf Management for recommendations of safer treatment to keep your family and the environment as healthy as possible.