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Last Edited: 4/12/11

Pesticides

A pesticide is any substance used to kill or repel insects, weeds, bacteria, mold, or viruses.  There are many different types of pesticides.  They are used in homes and on lawns, in agricultural fields on fruits and vegetables, and in parks, golf courses, and buildings.  They are also used on pets and people to protect from insects.  They are used to help grow crops more efficiently, and to protect people from diseases.

Exposures to pesticides may cause a wide variety of both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) health affects, depending upon the type of pesticide and the amount of exposure.  Signs of acute poisoning may include diarrhea, pinpoint pupils, rashes, nausea and vomiting.  Some pesticides may cause eye or throat irritation. Chronic exposure (greater than 1 year) to some types of pesticides may aggravate asthma symptoms; other types may increase the risk for certain types of cancers and birth defects, or cause damage to the genetic and immune systems.

Always use pesticides safely.  Always read the label on the pesticide products you use.  Improper use of pesticides in the home can lead to pesticide poisoning, and other health problems.  When pesticides build up in the environment, they can also cause health problems. 

Exposure to pesticides should be avoided whenever possible.  It is important to remember that children can be exposed to more pesticides than adults because of their playing and eating habits.  EHIB recommends that people use common sense measures, such as washing fruits and vegetables before eating and carefully following the directions on products, in order to minimize their exposure to pesticides.

There are many sources for learning more about individual pesticides.  Listed below are governmental, academic and non-governmental website links to find additional information.  The Environmental Health Investigations Branch is not responsible for their content and cannot assure the accuracy of their information.

EHIB has conducted a number of studies on pesticides, their use and possible health effects.  The links below provide information on studies conducted at EHIB, as well as helpful tips on how to lower one's expsoure to pesticides.

Fact Sheets

  • Pesticide Exposure in Women of Imperial County  --  EHIB and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study of women living in Imperial County called Pesticide Exposure in Women of Reproductive Age: A U.S.-Mexico Border Study....

 

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