Risks of Pesticide Use
Within the last few decades, scientists have learned that some pesticides can leach through the soil and enter the groundwater below. While 50% of the nation depends upon groundwater for drinking water, almost 95% of the households in rural areas use groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. The impact of agricultural chemicals on surface and groundwater quality has become an issue of national importance.
EPA has responsibility under a variety of statutes to protect the quality of the nation's ground water as well as direct responsibility for regulating the availability and use of pesticide products.
Each pesticide product has inherent risks associated with it. Potentially detrimental impacts of pesticides include:
- Acute poisoning from a single or short-term exposure can result in death.
- Chronic impacts of long-term exposure to pesticides, including pesticide residues in food, could also result in death.
- Natural resources can be degraded when pesticide residues in storm water runoff enter streams or leach into groundwater.
- Pesticides that drift from the site of application can harm or kill nontarget plants, birds, fish, or other wildlife.
- The mishandling of pesticides in storage facilities and in mixing and loading areas can contribute to soil and water contamination.
The risk associated with a given pesticide or pesticide product depends on the toxicity of the compound and the probability of exposure.
Source: University of Florida - IFAS