Pesticides can Really Bug You
In 2011, the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health published a study of 52,000 farmers and 32,000 wives all of which resided in North Carolina or Iowa looking at cancer risks and other health problems. This study is known as the “Agricultural Health Study” or “AHS”. In particular, the study found increased risks of leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, soft tissue sarcoma as well as cancers of the stomach, brain and prostate. Several risk factors were considered including; pesticides, engine exhaust, solvents and dust. This study is considered to have unique strengthens because of the number of people studied, the information known about those people, and number of years they were studied. The use of pesticides has long been studied regarding the health effects associated with their used. As an example. A 2009 study found that people exposed to week killers containing “imazethapyr” were at an increased risk of developing bladder and colon cancer. This is a common weed killer in soy bean, dry bean and other field crops, all common in North Carolina. Common product names containing “imazethapyr” are; Steel, Lightning, Pursuit and Extreme. Other common weed killers, such as “Roundup” contain a substance “glyphosate” which has been shown to induce the growth of breast cancer cells. Exposures are not simply limited to individuals directly applying the pesticides. “Indirect environmental exposure is also a significant problem for people living near farms.” Pesticides can travel miles in the air, or contaminant ground water. Studies have shown that pesticides in carpet dust from farming areas can be 10 to 200 times higher than the surrounding air. This can be a significant issue as young children often spend a considerable time on the floor. Additionally, the United States Department of Agricultural have estimated that as many as 50 million people drink water contaminated with pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. Because of the hazards that can potentially be associated with the use of some pesticides, the labels often contain numerous precautions. As an example, the label for “imazephyer” discussed above contain precautions such as: take a shower “IMMEDIATELY” after work, avoid breathing vapor and mist, wear long sleeve shirt and pants, and avoid contact with eyes, and skin.
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