Home   »  Intro to Pesticides

Overview


Common household pesticides

Pesticides are intentional poisons: we know as we use them that they are designed to interfere with animal, plant and environmental systems. California accounts for about 25% of all pesticide use in the country. These reported figures do not include so-called inert ingredients (unidentified but potentially hazardous chemicals that make up the bulk of many pesticide formulations), over-the-counter consumer use, and many other non-agricultural applications.

Pesticides put human health at risk
About one-third of total pesticide use in the state is known to be particularly toxic to humans, either as immediate (acute) poisons and/or chronic toxins. Children are particularly vulnerable to many, and susceptible to exposure. These "bad actor" pesticides are those recognized by California and federal regulatory agencies as having high acute toxicity; as known or probable carcinogens, neurotoxins, or reproductive or developmental toxicants; or as known groundwater contaminants in California.

People are regularly exposed to pesticides
Pesticides are found in our lawns, gardens, parks, workplaces, schools, and homes, in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. These varied pathways make controlling public exposure to pesticides a virtual impossibility. As a result, many Californians are exposed to pesticides without their knowledge through many combinations of "pathways of exposure." We all face risks that are very difficult to measure, especially the most vulnerable groups in society - farmworkers because of constant exposure, and children because of their physiology, growth and habits. Read more about the Health Effects of Pesticides.

Government and Corporations Push Pesticides
California is one of the most important markets for pesticides and accounts for over 15% of the $11 billion U.S. pesticide market. To keep the chemicals flowing, the pesticide industry has exerted intense pressure to influence how the government, farmers and the general public deal with pest control by giving millions of dollars to state and national election campaigns, ensuring their advocates are placed in regulatory agencies, falsifying information on the impacts of their products and using powerful public relations machines to undermine critics of the chemical industry.

Managing pests without pesticides
Given the very real risks pesticides pose to human health and the environment, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that the most hazardous pesticides are phased out, that all pesticide use is reduced, that the public has full access to information about where and when pesticides are used, that safe alternatives are used and that growers are supported in transitioning to more healthy production practices. Read more about Alternatives to Pesticides.


Healthy Schools
Pesticides known to cause cancer, birth defects and nervous system damage are widely used in school buildings and on school grounds in California, despite the fact that children are especially vulnerable to the health impacts from these toxins. Since 1998, CPR has sought to reduce the dangerous and unnecessary use of pesticides in California's schools.

Integrated Pest Management Ordinances
By implementing integrated pest management strategies, properties focus on long-term pest prevention by eliminating potential entrances and homes for pests, monitoring for pest presence, improving sanitation, and using less-toxic pesticides minimally.

California Pesticide Use


Pesticides and Human Health


Pesticides in Air


Pesticides in Water


Alternatives to Pesticides


Environmental Justice
Environmental Justice (EJ) concerns coincide with many pesticide issues throughout the state of California. Low income communities and communities of color suffer the greatest health risks and impacts of pesticide use in California.

Links


West Nile Virus
In mid-August 2003, mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus (WNV) were found in California's Salton Sea. Although the U.S. Centers for Diesease Control and local vector agencies are emphasizing non-chemical methods to control mosquito populations there are still many areas where chemical spraying is occuring.