A pesticide is any substance used to kill or repel insects, weeds, bacteria, mold, or viruses. There are many different types of pesticides. They are used in homes and on lawns, in agricultural fields on fruits and vegetables, and in parks, golf courses, and buildings. They are also used on pets and people to protect from insects. They are used to help grow crops more efficiently, and to protect people from diseases.
Exposures to pesticides may cause a wide variety of both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) health affects, depending upon the type of pesticide and the amount of exposure. Signs of acute poisoning may include diarrhea, pinpoint pupils, rashes, nausea and vomiting. Some pesticides may cause eye or throat irritation. Chronic exposure (greater than 1 year) to some types of pesticides may aggravate asthma symptoms; other types may increase the risk for certain types of cancers and birth defects, or cause damage to the genetic and immune systems.
Always use pesticides safely. Always read the label on the pesticide products you use. Improper use of pesticides in the home can lead to pesticide poisoning, and other health problems. When pesticides build up in the environment, they can also cause health problems.
Exposure to pesticides should be avoided whenever possible. It is important to remember that children can be exposed to more pesticides than adults because of their playing and eating habits. EHIB recommends that people use common sense measures, such as washing fruits and vegetables before eating and carefully following the directions on products, in order to minimize their exposure to pesticides.
There are many sources for learning more about individual pesticides. Listed below are governmental, academic and non-governmental website links to find additional information. The Environmental Health Investigations Branch is not responsible for their content and cannot assure the accuracy of their information.
- The US EPA collects pesticide information as a part of their pesticide registration process. Links to US EPA documents are availablehere.
- Extox, from Oregon State University, provides information on pesticides and health effects in a searchable database.
- The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) also has a searchable database with information on individual pesticides.
- The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is responsible for regulating commercial pesticide sales and use, and fostering reduced-risk pest management in California. DPR pages of interest include: Pesticide Use Reporting, California Pesticide Illness Query (CalPIQ), and California Pesticide Information Portal (CalPIP).
EHIB has conducted a number of studies on pesticides, their use and possible health effects. The links below provide information on studies conducted at EHIB, as well as helpful tips on how to lower one's expsoure to pesticides.
Pesticide Exposure in Women of Imperial County
EHIB and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study of women living in Imperial County called Pesticide Exposure in Women of Reproductive Age: A U.S.-Mexico Border Study....
Correlating agricultural use of organophosphates with outdoor air concentrations: a particular concern for children
Correlating agricultural use of organophosphates with outdoor air concentrations: a particular concern for children Martha Harnly,1 Robert McLaughlin,1
Maternal Residence Near Agricultural Pesticide Applications and Autism Spectrum Disorders Among Children in the California Central Valley
Background: Ambient levels of pesticides ("pesticide drift") are detectable at residences near agricultural field sites....
Pesticide food poisoning from contaminated watermelons in California
Aldicarb, a carbamate pesticide, is the most potent pesticide in the market, and has an LD50 of 1 mg/kg....
Pesticide Use in California: US/Mexico Border Region, Final Report
Analytical Procedures, Methodologies, and Field Protocols to Monitor and Determine Environmental Contaminants To assist the U.S....
Seizures after eating a snack food contaminated with the pesticide endrin
In September 1988 we investigated reports of seizures in persons who had eaten taquitos, a commercially prepared snack food....
Soil sampling at schools in Imperial County, California
The Environmental Health Investigations Branch of the California Department of Health Services, as part of ongoing research on the United States/Mexico Border, previously identified schools in Imperial...
The Four County Study of childhood cancer: Clusters in context
Observations of childhood 'cancer clusters' in small communities in central California prompted us to examine the distribution of childhood cancer in communities throughout the region to see if the overall...
Worldwide trends in DDT levels in human breast milk
Concern over human breast milk contamination with the pesticide DDT (1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(chlorodiphenyl)ethane) has prompted numerous studies around the world during the last five decades....
Border GIS and LANDSAT Project: Pilot study of feasibility of using satellite imagery to predict cropping patterns in Imperial and Mexicali Valleys
-- In 1998, EHIB used satellite imaging methods to estimate the types of crops grown in the agricultural Mexicali Valley of Mexico and the land uses for this region....
California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP)
-- California Environmental Health Tracking Program Improving Public Health With Better Information air quality asthma birth defects cancer carbon monoxide poisoning climate change drinking...
Environmental Health Symposium for Promotores and Community Health Workers
-- In June 14, 2011, EHIB hosted an environmental health symposium for promotores and community health workers....
Pesticide Use in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region
-- EHIB analyzed pesticide use data from 1991 to 1995 in Imperial and San Diego Counties, to investigate areas where potential pesticide exposures could occur in children living along the US-Mexico border....
Testicular Cancer: Etiologic Factors
-- Although testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young males in the United States, and its incidence is increasing worldwide, not much is known about the etiology of this illness....
Urinary Pesticide Metabolites Study
-- From 2001 to 2003, EHIB collected urine samples from women of reproductive age living in Imperial County and analyzed these samples for pesticides....