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EPA-Expo-Box (A Toolbox for Exposure Assessors)

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Pesticides

Media

Pesticides have widespread uses and may affect human and environmental health in a variety of settings. In addition to direct and indirect contact with agricultural pesticide products, people may be exposed to pesticides in consumer products and pesticide residues in exposure media, including food, drinking water, air, and soil. The Media Tool Set of EPA-Expo-Box provides additional information and resources organized by media.

Media Sources of Pesticides
Food
  • Contamination of foods may occur as a result of intentional use of pesticides. Pesticides that are applied to agricultural areas or gardens can contaminate food products. Consumers may be exposed to these pesticide residues via consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains, and other agricultural commodities.
  • Pesticides released to abiotic media may end up in the food chain. Some pesticides are resistant to breakdown and biomagnify up through the food chain. Others are lipophilic and tend to concentrate in the fatty tissues of animals such as fish that may be consumed by humans.
Drinking water
  • Pesticides that are applied to farmlands, gardens, and lawns can migrate to ground water or surface water systems. These systems might be used as drinking water supplies.
Consumer products
  • Many household products contain pesticides. The following are examples of household pesticide products: cockroach sprays and baits; insect repellents for personal use; rat and other rodent poisons; flea and tick sprays, powders, pet collars; kitchen, laundry, bath disinfectants; products that kill mold and mildew; some lawn and garden products (e.g., weed killers); and some swimming pool chemicals.
Air
  • Pesticides could be a source of outdoor and indoor air pollution. Examples of household pesticide products used indoors include insecticides and disinfectants.
  • Contaminants from products used on agricultural lands or lawns and gardens outdoors might drift indoors and contaminate indoor air.
Soil
  • Anthropogenic sources of soil contamination might include application of pesticides. Agricultural fields, public access ways, or lawns and gardens treated with pesticides can contaminate the surrounding soil.
  • Contaminants in soil from products used on lawns and gardens might be tracked inside the house.

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