What Are the Dangers of Pest Control?

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Despite harmful effects, many people still use dangerous products for pest control in and around their homes.
Despite harmful effects, many people still use dangerous products for pest control in and around their homes. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Whenever we visit a public park, eat non-organic food or go to work, we are affected by the dangerous elements of pest control. Modern society is concerned about bugs and pests that wreak havoc on our personal space and crops; however, controlling these unwanted pests often involves harsh chemicals that do more harm to our bodies and environment in the long run. Pest control is dangerous unless natural or organic products are used.

Basics

Despite available information and statistics regarding the harmful ingredients used in pesticides and insecticides, 59 percent of homes still use these chemicals on a regular basis. Commercially used chemicals that have been classified as carcinogens are still used in and around office buildings, in public parks and on non-organic food supplies to combat pests and infestations. These chemicals are implemented because they work; they are easy to use and are generally cost-effective. However, the environmental dangers, effects on humans and animals and the diseases associated with these products may not be worth the risk.

Environmental Dangers

Pesticides and insecticides pose a danger to our environment. Chemicals used to spray crops and plants are carried on the breeze on a windy day, resulting in chemicals in places they were not intended to be. Toxic chemicals contaminate groundwater, damaging precious freshwater supplies. Run-off from the use of pesticides has affected aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico, causing thousands of shrimp, fish and shellfish to be diagnosed with a fatal condition known as hypoxia. As long as 38 years after harmful chemicals for pest control have been banned, traces are still found in food products, because the ground and soil have not fully recovered from the use of these toxins.

People and Pets

Pest control poses a danger to both people and animals. Chemicals are especially harmful to babies and children with developing nervous systems, as well as pregnant women, elderly people and pets. Even slight exposure to pest control chemicals can have deadly effects. Each year, millions of pet owners purchase flea and tick medicines to combat pests on their pets and in their homes. However, these medications are highly toxic. Not only can they shorten lifespans and cause illnesses in your animal companions, but they are also very dangerous in homes with children, who are easily exposed. The main ingredient in many commercial flea medications is Permethrin, a chemical that kills fleas through paralyzing the nervous system. However, these chemicals can also harm the nervous systems of you and your pets.

Diseases and Conditions

Pesticides have been linked to motor neuron diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and brain cancer. These problems are especially prevalent in farmers who use these chemicals to spray their fields regularly. Pesticides have also been linked to infertility, miscarriage and birth defects. Contaminants have been found in the cord blood of newborn babies, as well as the breast milk of nursing mothers. The American Cancer Society has noted the increased chances of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as childhood leukemia in children exposed to household pesticides. The University of Mississippi also found a link between hyperactivity in children and the use of chemicals for pest control.

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