Pesticides on Public Health

Pesticides allow for the cultivation of crops. These harsh substances are used to destroy insects and other organisms harmful to crop growth. Although pesticides are a form of controlling various pests and diseases, they present another issue. Constant spray of harsh chemicals has indirectly affected the publics’ health. It’s no secret that when pesticides are being sprayed on large crop fields, residue escapes into the atmosphere, contaminating the precious oxygen inhale by the public. America alone uses 407,779 tons of pesticides, that’s 4077,770 tons of harsh chemicals waiting to be inhaled by the community members of nearby residency areas.

As pesticides are being released into the atmosphere, individuals in surrounding areas are constantly breathing them in and damaging their respiratory system. Pesticides are respiratory irritants that can lead to asthma. Wasco teenage resident Victoria Zarate has developed asthma over the years, due to the chemicals being released into her living area. Victoria lives in a small town by the name of Wasco in California. She mentioned how her hometown Wasco is known for the part it plays in agriculture. After all it is the city of roses and the eleventh highest pistachio company supplier in the USA is located in Wasco. You can only imagine how many pistachios orchards Victoria is surrounded by. When asked how long she has been suffering from asthma, Victoria replied “Couple years now, I used to not suffer from asthma growing up. I started developing breathing issues when my family and I moved to Wasco into this neighborhood that is literally surrounded by pistachio trees”. Right behind Victoria’s home there are large pistachio orchards that are sprayed with pesticides, which have recently led Victoria to suffer an asthma attack. When asked about the incident, Victoria stated, “I was away from home for a couple of weeks, visiting my sister in the city outside of Wasco. She was helping me with my college application, so I decided to stay with her for a week or two. When I
returned home the first night I suffered an asthma attack.” Victoria and the other 5-10% of young adults experience asthma that is linked to the exposure of chemicals such as pesticides. Not only do pesticides affect the airway, but can also cause serious damage to lung tissue if inhaled.

There are other forms of controlling pests and diseases, that are less harmful to the environment and public health. Biocontrol uses the pest’s natural enemy such as wasp to fend off the pest such as aphids. Aphids are a pest that causes a great deal of damage to plants as it competes and removes nutrients from the plant. Instead of spraying harsh chemicals, a more eco-friendly solution to introduce wasps into the equation. When it comes to biocontrol farmers need to be careful when introducing other insects, as it can result in an outbreak of different creatures. If Biocontrol seems too risky then polyculture is another alternative to the harsh pesticides. Polyculture is when more than one species is grown at the same time and place. There are plants that naturally repel specific pests. Polyculture tries to imitate a natural ecosystem, where plants form symbiotic relationships with other plants in order to keep pests away, and harsh chemicals even further away.

With these alternative options to pesticides then why are they not being exercised? Denise Morales is an agriculture teacher at Wasco High School who is in charge of the community garden. Denise has been in charge of the garden for more than four years and the crops grown are used to fundraisers for the agriculture department. When asked if she has noticed any health effects working with pesticides, she states, “No, we work with such a small scale of chemicals that they don’t have much effect on the health. We are also very careful when it comes to handling these chemicals. We make sure to wear a mask while spray and clean up afterwards Although there are other alternatives to pesticides, pesticides are very efficient. When it comes to the mass production of crops produced in the United States, it would be a challenge to not use pesticides”, answered Denise. Pesticides are harmful to public health, but they also seem to feed the public.

Pesticides affect public health one field at a time, individuals are developing asthma and allergies with the exposure of pesticides. It is obvious that a change needs to be done, but it is difficult to banish pesticides when they also feee the public. This puts society in a dilemma: there are other alternatives to pesticides that are better for the public health. Yet these alternatives are not as sustainable as pesticides. This puts a difficult decision upon the public. It is time for big companies to take initiative and look for safe sustainable ways to grow crops. Even if companies start with small changes, for instance, using poly culture in only one of the fields. This is a small change, but it is a great start towards a cleaner and healthier environment.