The Blacksmith Institute in collaboration with Green Cross Switzerland has been collecting data from thousands of the world's toxic hotspots for the past three years in order to identify our world's top ten toxic pollution threats and calculate their health impact. Their findings have been compiled in the recently released The World's Worst Toxic Pollution Problems 2011 Report
Two of the top ten toxic pollution threats - Agricultural Production and Pesticide Manufacturing and Storage - are identified specifically as being caused by pesticide pollution.
The report asserts:
Agrochemicals, which include pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, have been widely used since the 1940s in many low- and middle-income countries. Unfortunately, many chemical pesticides, particularly those containing chlorinated compounds, are often persistent in the environment and can be toxic to humans.These kinds of pesticides are dangerous to many different forms of life, and their impacts can spread far beyond their production and application point to even a global scale. Chemical pesticides can harm agricultural workers who do not wear the proper safety gear and can also be dangerous for nearby communities. Common pathways for human exposure include inhalation when pesticides are applied (particularly when applied through spraying), ingestion of contaminated foods, ingestion of contaminated soil (particularly children, who may not wash hands before eating after playing in dirt), and contamination of surface or groundwater and subsequent ingestion.
The health consequences are extremely severe:
Common health effects [from pesticides] include skin irritations, respiratory and pulmonary problems, vision loss, damage to nervous and immune systems, birth defects, DNA damage, disruption of the hormonal system, many different forms of cancer, and in some cases, death.
This is just one more reminder that we need to continue our mission to eliminate the dangers of toxic pesticides, our exposure to them, and their presence in the environment where we live and work.
You can access the full report at Top Ten Toxic Pollution Problems 2011.