Environmental effects of Insecticides/Herbicides

Use of artificial chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides has increased over the years. This has known to cause a lot of problems to, both, our environment and us. In my last article dated May 31, 2007, I cited numerous scientific studies, which informed us about the dangers of using these chemicals on our health. In this article, I am going to try and elucidate how these chemicals harm our environment.

  • A study performed by researchers in Southern Illinois University, concluded that the quantities of organophosphorus pesticides present in the environment could be harmful to the yellow-legged frog, Rana boylii.
  • In a Chinese study, effects of using acetochlor and urea, both when mixed together and by themselves, on earthworms were evaluated. The study concluded that toxicity of acetochlor increased with concentration and higher urea concentrations were strongly toxic to the earthworms. At higher concentrations, a combination of urea and acetochlor had a synergistic toxic effect.
  • A paper published in Greece discerned the different aspects of honeybee poisoning with anticholinesterase insecticides.
  • A Brazilian study positively concluded that the herbicide Roundup adversely affects the reproductive function of wild ducks by altering the structure of the testis and also by changing the hormone levels in serum.
  • A Polish study observed that exposure of Cyprinus carpio (a fish) to a concentration of Roundup 20-40 folds lower than that used in practice caused numerous changes in the Mitochondria suggesting that Roundup is harmful to the fish.
  • According to a study perfoemed in Brazil, during pregnancy and lactation, rats exposed to Roundup produced male progeny who had decreased sperm count and increase in sperm abnormalities along with dose-related decrease in serum testosterone levels.
  • In yet another study from Brazil, maternal exposure to sulfentrazone was concluded to cause neuromuscular and behavioral problems in rat pups.
  • A study conducted on Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells in India concluded that use of cypermethrin (Type II pyrethroid), dichlorvos (organophosphate) and pendimethalin (dinitroaniline herbicide) chemicals caused DNA damage and cytotoxicity.
  • A Hungarian study performed on chicken embryos concluded that administration of herbicide containing 2,4-D along with cadmium led to embryo mortality and along with copper led to developmental anomalies.
  • A study conducted in Germnay, studied the effects of metazachlor on aquatic macrophytes (water plants) and concluded that a single exposure of metazachlor to these plants had long-term effect on the aquatic ecosystem.
  • Atrazine a commonly used herbicide in USA was shown to be an immune disruptor in northern leopard frogs.
  • A Hungarian study conducted to study effects of pesticides and their photo degenerative products on soil microbes concluded that the pesticide caused significant changes in the soil microbiota.
  • A study performed in Mexico on Nile tilapia (a fish) using diazinon, an organophosphorus pesticide, concluded that the pesticide is immunotoxic to this fish.
  • Effects of chlorpyrifos (an organophosphate) and deltamethrin (a pyrethroid pesticide) on rats was studied by a team in Turkey and they concluded that both pesticides caused liver damage, which was dose dependant and that deltamethrin caused more damage than chlorpyrifos.
  • Zebrafish were used to study the effects of organochlorine pesticides by a team in Brazil. The results showed that these pesticides had an effect on growth and gill morphology of the zebrafish.
  • Effects of carbofuran (carbamate insecticide) and diazinon (an organophosphate insecticide) on the flight times of homing pigeons was studied by a team in US and they concluded that carbofuran had a more pronounced increase on the flight times of the birds as compared to diazinon and was dose-dependant.
  • As concluded by authors of a study conducted in US, extended exposure of mice to two pyrethroid pesticides (deltamethrin and permethrin), resulted in increased DNA fragmentation, which is a marker for apoptosis (programmed cell death) via a pathway involving dopamine.

Use of artificial insecticides and herbicides has been increasing over the years. Most scientific studies describe the horrifying effects of these chemicals related to short term exposure compared to the number of years of use. The adverse effects of rampant use of these harmful chemicals over long term needs to be evaluted but in the mean time awareness needs to be generated among the common population regarding the harm done by use of these chemicals.

To read in detail about the studies presented in this article please click here.


missnoma said...

im impressed by your research! i agree that herbicides/pesticides definitely not good for the environment. thanks for summarising some of the effects

(I Love Indian Food) Prabhudesai said...

Thank you Missnoma for your comment. I am glad you agree with me about the harmful effects of Herbicides/ pesticides on our environment.

Gavan Murphy aka The Healthy Irishman said...

Great article. I'm a big proponent of organic as much as possible. People need to be as aware of the effects on not only themselves but the environment also.