Pesticides and Human Health
Pesticides have a specific purpose in society. Pesticides are intended to:
- kill organisms that cause disease and threaten public health
- control insects, fungus, and weeds that damage crops
- control pests that damage homes and structures vital to public safety
Because people use pesticides to kill, prevent, repel, or in some way adversely affect some living organism (the pest), pesticides by their nature are toxic to some degree. Even the least-toxic products, and those that are natural or organic, can cause health problems if someone is exposed to enough of it.
People come into contact with pesticides in many ways, including:
- When pesticides are used in and around our homes and gardens
- When pesticides are used on our pets
- When we work with pesticides
- When pesticides are used in our communities or in our environment
- When pesticides are used on the food we eat
The risk of health problems depends not only on how toxic the ingredients are (Pesticide Ingredients), but also on the amount of exposure to the product. In addition, certain people like children, pregnant women and sick or aging populations may be more sensitive to the effects of pesticides than others.
To reduce the risk of health problems from pesticides there are several things you can do:
- Identify the least-toxic way to control your pest; learn about Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
- Always read the pesticide label first! Select the appropriate product for your site, method and goals.
- Read all precautions and warnings on the label prior to use. These are intended to help you prevent harmful exposures.
- Take steps to minimize your exposure, even when using low toxicity pesticides.
To learn more, choose from the following topics:
- Pesticides and Children
- Pesticides and Pregnancy
- Pesticide Safe Use Practices
- Food Safety
- Aging Populations
- Pesticides in Your Community
- Understanding Pesticide Risks
- Minimizing Pesticide Risks
- Pesticide Information for Medical Professionals
- Minimizing Pesticide Exposure at Work
- Pesticide Applicator Resources
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.