Dangers of Pesticides

Incredibly more than 6,000 Canadians a year suffer from pesticide poisoning and about half of these cases are seen in children. Pesticides are a class of poorly understood chemicals and it is difficult to assess their toxicity as they break down, are mixed with other products or become contaminated with dioxins (cancer causing agents). For obvious reasons, it is highly unethical to do a human study, as is done with phamaceuticals and cosmetics and there is no systematic ongoing surviellance of the effects of exposure. This is a serious limitation of the research done by Health Canada’s Pest Managment Regulatory Agency (PMRA). However, independent studies have been done on cancer patients and the general public who are exposed to pesticides through occupational use, or through a family member.

Pesticides are implicated in nuerological damage, promote mutations and infertility and are suspected of causing cancer. In addition, This article shows that the rate of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) decreased in European countries after pesticides were banned.

Pesticides and Children

Pesticides are  particularly toxic to children, who are smaller than adults (and thus will be affected by a smaller amount of a substance),  and tend to play on lawns and touch their faces and fingers.  Earlier this year in Utah, two sisters died of pesticide poisoning when the company their parents hired applied aluminium phosphide (to kill rodents) too close to the family home.

In addition ot this, pesticides have also recently been linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children.

It is important to remember that if spraying conditions are not perfect, pesticides easily run into the water table and are blown around by the wind. In Newfoundland the weather can change so rapidly that many experts believe it is never safe to spray cosmetic pesticides on lawns.

In Canada, the Ontario College of Family Physcians have done one of the most extensive literature reviews avaliable of the incidence of many diseases in people exposed to pesticides, their children and spouses. This review was instrumental in the govenrment of Ontario’s decision to ban cosmetic pesticide use. The movement to eliminate pesticides is not new. This story shows the level of engagement by Canadian organizations.

Pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease

Scientists noticed that more farmers and people living in rural areas were diagnosed with Parkinsons disease than the general population and wondered if pesticide exposure was the culprit. They also noticed that animals displayed symptoms of PD when exposed to rotenone, and the fungicide Maneb and herbicide paraquat were also implicated. in a recent epidemiological study, Californians living near areas where maneb and paraquat were studied and had a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Read the entire article by Sadie Costello, Myles Cockburn, Jeff Bronstein, Xinbo Zhang, and Beate Ritz

Parkinson’s Disease and Residential Exposure to Maneb and Paraquat From Agricultural Applications in the Central Valley of California

Pesticides and Fertility:

by Judie Squires

The health effects of pesticides have been cause for concern for some time now, mainly affecting children, pregnant women, the unborn fetus and the elderly. But the health effects of pesticide use do not seem to be of much concern to men. Well, if the health effects of women and children hasn’t given you cause for concern yet, maybe this study will.

In his alarming report, Dr. Louis Guillette warns that sufficient evidence already exists that we should be refraining from use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes such as home lawn care. I can see the advertisement now, like the workplace safety commercials showing the gory happenings of workplace accidents.

A stocky handsome young gentleman, wearing his baseball cap and gloves, spraying an unearthly green lawn, with a saddened look on his face saying “I wanted to have kids someday. But my penis has shriveled and my sperm count is low.  I should have worn my protective equipment.” And a sorrowful looking lady, teary-eyed as she shakes her head in disbelief. But the incredible shrinking penis problem is no laughing matter.

Guillette, a renowned U.S. scientist who has spent the last decade studying the influence of environmental contaminants on fetal development and reproductive systems of wildlife and humans has documented fertility and sex changes; including decreasing penis size due to environmental contamination. Delivering a special series of lectures back in 2006 at the University of Western Ontario, Louis Guillette admits that he would not use pesticides on his own lawn. “The use of these compounds just for cosmetic reasons, just because you don’t want to make dandelion wine from your yard or whatever, I think is inappropriate.”

Guillette’s study is not the only one that should cause alarm for the male population. Scientists are uncertain as to how big, or small, this problem has become. But the problem of shrinking penises seems to be rising.

In July of 1992, an article published in Scientific American, showed that boys in Taiwan exposed to PCBs while in their mothers’ womb developed smaller penises as they matured, compared to boys in Taiwan without exposure. The finding of small penises among PCB-exposed human males tends to confirm that humans and wildlife are affected similarly by exposure to “endocrine-disrupting chemicals” such as PCBs, dioxin, DDT, and dozens of others, many of which are pesticides. The endocrine system,
in wildlife and humans, is a complex set of bodily organs and tissues whose activities are coordinated by chemical messengers, called hormones, which control growth, development and behavior.

In recent years, evidence has accumulated that several dozen pesticides and other industrial chemicals mimic, or interfere with, hormones and thus disrupt the endocrine system. In both wildlife and humans, it is the reproductive system seems most prone to disruption by hormone-mimicking pollutants.

Science News presented evidence from several sources that males of many wildlife species including birds, fish, amphibians, and mammals are being “feminized” by exposure to low levels of pesticides.

Researchers have also reported that cryptorchidism, a condition where males are born with one or more undescended testicles, has more than doubled in men during the last four decades. Researchers at University of Wisconsin reported that low prenatal exposures to dioxin feminized the behavior of male rats during adulthood, and sharply reduced their production of sperm. The researchers concluded, the developing male reproductive system appears to be more sensitive to the effects of dioxins than any other organ or organ-system studied.

Another study preformed by Dr. Hemavathi, University of South Florida, subjected mice to three common pesticides in order to observe effects upon the animals sperm. Results showed that all three pesticides caused a significant increase in sperm abnormalities such as double heads, small heads, elongated heads, large heads, double tails, coiled sperm, and acrosomes (tip of the head) bent upward or downward and some sperm without acrosomes.

Besides the obvious size of this matter, ladies have much to be concerned about as well. According to the International Journal of Fertility, pregnancies ending in miscarriage were found to have fathers whose sperm showed higher levels of defective sperm as well as lower sperm counts.

The most sophisticated analysis, published in the journal of the National Institute of Environmental health sciences, indicate that the decline in male sperm count over the last 50 years may be as great at forty percent.

What’ puzzling…Take a read through the Newfoundland Applicator Core training manual, that is presumed read by all pesticide applicators, Page 86 Chapter 4, outlines in a pictorial, an applicator silhouette with arrows pointing to the different parts of the body. This pesticide absorption rate chart, points directly to the area of the penis, with an arrow stating 100% absorption rate. The statement above reads, “ Pesticides can be absorbed more quickly through skin covering the head, armpits, small of the back, genitals and any area where moisture or sweating occurs.”

What could they be thinking when reading the training? Yea Ma, this is the best job ever! Not much training, little pay, a smaller penis – But hey, I get to drive a big truck?
by Judie Squires
Portugal Cove


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