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National Pesticide Information Center

npic@ace.orst.edu

1.800.858.7378

Pesticides and Human Health

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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:

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:

To learn more, choose from the following topics:

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 npic@ace.orst.edu.

Last updated March 11, 2014