December 6, 2009

"What You Don't Know Can Kill You"

This article was originally posted on July 15th, 2007. With cultivation season upon us and pesticide use at it's highest amounts ever on the island of Kauai, we repost this resource.

The general term "pesticide" includes herbicides, fumigants, insecticides, nemacides, fungicides, miticides, rodenticides, termiticides, molluscides, acaricides, bird repellents and some wood preservatives (1).

In California, glyphosate is the third most commonly-reported cause of pesticide related illness among agricultural workers (2). The active ingredient in Syngenta's Touchdown product is glyphosate (3). Of the ten chemicals known to have been applied to Ag lands adjacent W.C.M.S (see Pesticide 101), glyphosate is the most benign. Six of the chemicals are considered Cholinesterase inhibitors (4). While the effects of cholinesterase inhibiting products are intended for insect pests, these chemicals can also be poisonous, or toxic to humans in some situations. Human exposure to cholinesterase inhibiting chemicals can result from inhalation, ingestion, eye and skin contact during the manufacture, mixing, or applications of these pesticides (5). Unfortunately, signs and symptoms of cholinesterase inhibition from exposure can be confused with influenza (flu), heat prostration, alcohol intoxication, exhaustion, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), asthma, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, and brain hemorrhage. This can cause problems if the symptoms of lowered cholinesterase levels are either ignored or misdiagnosed as something more or less harmful than they really are (5,6). To date Hawaii DOA/DOH has made no attempt to correlate the school health aide records of reported illness and/or staff statements with Syngenta spray operation application type, time & dates. Informal attempts show a significant correlation of spray dates and student/staff "spikes" of illness indicative of chronic pesticide exposure.

1. Colorado Dept. of Health and Environment
2. "Glyphosate Fact Sheet"
3. Product Details: Touchdown HiTech (Herbicide)
4. PAN Pesticides Database
6. Image: "Manifestations of Organophosphate Insecticide Poisoning"


Anonymous said...

Very valuable information

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