This carpet snake stretches out in front of the guest room door every day. Friends arrive tomorrow so we will see if they are as relaxed about its visit as I am.
Orchid swallowtails………………….4 flitting around the gardens this morning.
Pesticides are used all around us, in homes and gardens, schools, parks and agricultural fields.
All too often, these chemicals are allowed onto the market before their impacts are fully understood — and harms to our health and the environment are discovered years later. The science is increasingly clear that even low levels of exposure can harm human health, and children are particularly vulnerable.
Our national rules governing pesticide use are surprisingly weak. Yet as public concern continues to grow, alternative approaches to managing pests are increasingly available and gaining ground in homes, schools and agricultural fields across the country.
Below is a brief overview of the problem; explore our campaigns and key issue pages to find out more about how PAN and our partners are building a healthy, thriving system of food and farming — and how you can help.
What are pesticides?
Insecticides (bug killers), herbicides (weed killers), and fungicides (fungus killers) are all pesticides; so are rodenticides and antimicrobials. Pesticides come in spray cans and crop dusters, in household cleaners, hand soaps and swimming pools.
Insecticides are generally the most acutely (immediately) toxic. Many are designed to attack an insect’s brain and nervous system, which can mean they have neurotoxic effects in humans as well. Herbicides are more widely used (RoundUp and atrazine are the two most used pesticides in the world) and present chronic risks. This means ongoing, low-level exposures can increase the risk of diseases or disorders such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease or infertility and other reproductive harms. Fungicides are also used in large amounts; some are more benign, some are not.
Pesticides are also sometimes broken down into chemical classes and modes of action. For example, fumigants are pesticides applied as gases to “sterilize” soil, and systemics work their way through a plant’s tissue after being taken up at the root. Major chemical classes include: carbamates, organochlorines, organophosphates (mostly developed 70 or more years ago for chemical warfare) and triazines. Newer classes include pyrethroids and neonicotinoids, synthesized to mimic nature’s pest protection. For more details on specific pesticides, visit our online database at http://www.pesticideinfo.org.