Environmental effects of pesticides

chemicals to prevent pests

Pesticide is a term used to describe any substance or chemical used to control or exterminate pests. These chemical pesticides can come in different forms, such as liquid, solid or gaseous. They are classified into several types based on their specific action, including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, acaricides, bactericides, rodenticides, phytoregulators and other specific variations. The environmental effects of pesticides have wreaked havoc on the quality of water and agricultural soils.

Therefore, in this article we are going to tell you what the environmental effects of pesticides are, their characteristics and consequences.

Use of pesticides in agriculture


The use and creation of pesticides to combat various pests has been the main catalyst for the advent of the Green Revolution, as it allowed a substantial increase in both the quality and quantity of food production around the world. The introduction and expansion of these products coincided with the beginning of the "chemical era", which It undoubtedly revolutionized the lifestyle of society as a whole since the XNUMXs.

While chemistry has provided undeniable advantages, it has also been linked to various harmful impacts on our environment. One of them is the alarming decline in biodiversity, along with significant changes in the predator-prey balance. Furthermore, it is important to recognize the serious implications for human health caused by numerous pesticides, either directly or indirectly.

Several factors contribute to environmental contamination by pesticides:

The practical implementation of techniques in the management of agricultural crops.

  • Involuntary fluid discharges.
  • Both insufficient packaging and the products themselves are causes for concern.
  • Leaking storage tanks.
  • When application machinery and holding tanks are not thoroughly cleaned, inadequate cleaning or washing can occur.
  • The act of discarding or depositing waste on the earth's surface.

Environmental effects of pesticides

the environmental effects of pesticides

The dispersion of remains of these products in the environment is a consequence of various factors, which can give rise to potential contamination of both biotic (animals and plants) and abiotic (air, water and soil) elements, endangering health and public stability. The degree of impact and extent of the spread is influenced by several factors, such as the physical and chemical properties of the products used, as well as the geomorphological conditions of the soil, the climatology and the hydrogeological conditions of the affected regions.

The ecological damage resulting from pesticides is variable and depends on both their composition and their categorization. While the harmful effects on the Earth's surface may be more noticeable and immediate, the most significant damage is inflicted on the water sources that have been contaminated by the runoff of these substances. The two primary means by which this damage is inflicted are bioconcentration and bioamplification.


When a chemical substance passes from its external environment into the body, this is known as chemical absorption. Fat tissues, or “lipids,” are a primary place where many pesticides become trapped. DDT, for example, It is lipophilic and can dissolve and accumulate in adipose tissue. This accumulation can lead to the concentration of pesticides in certain edible fish tissues or in human adipose tissue. In contrast, other pesticides, such as glyphosate, are metabolized within the body and are eventually expelled through excretion.


The phenomenon of bioamplification is the process by which the concentration of a chemical substance intensifies as it moves up the food chain. This means that as large organisms consume smaller ones, The amount of chemicals, such as pesticides, also increases and spreads throughout your tissues and organs. As a result, there are significantly higher concentrations of these substances in predators at the top of the food chain, including humans.

When toxic substances are present in living organisms, they can cause a variety of harmful effects. These effects can range from direct mortality to a series of cellular deteriorations, compromised immune function, development of various types of tumors, malformations or physiological consequences, such as reducing the thickness of the egg shell.

Criteria for pesticides to see their contaminating potential

environmental effects of pesticides

The impact of pesticides on living organisms varies depending on their properties and composition, and their presence can persist in both terrestrial and aquatic environments for long periods. The main factors in determining the degree of impact include the following criteria:


The measure of toxicity in all living things, both mammals and non-mammalians, takes the form of LD50. This stands for "Lethal Dose," which indicates the concentration of pesticide necessary to cause the death of fifty percent of the test subjects within a specific time period. The older is the LD50, the lower the toxicity of the substance, with values ​​ranging from 0 to 10 being extremely toxic.. The impact of toxicity on organisms can manifest itself acutely and cause death.


The duration of a product's ambient concentration is determined by its half-life, which is the time necessary for it to decrease by 50%. This schedule depends on both biotic and abiotic degradation processes. Typically, contemporary pesticides have a shorter half-life as they are more precise in controlling pests in a specific period of time.

Degraded products

Sometimes, the deterioration of the original compound can lead to the appearance of so-called "degraded products." These products may have levels of toxicity lower, equivalent or higher than those of the original substance.

Environmental fate

Environmental fate is a multifaceted concept that encompasses a variety of interrelated factors. It refers to the notion that the fate of our planet and the living beings that inhabit it is influenced by a complex interaction of environmental, social and economic forces.

These forces may include climate change, resource depletion, pollution, and habitat destruction, among others. Besides, the concept of destination recognizes the interconnection of various environmental systems and the ways in which human actions can have unpredictable and far-reaching consequences.

Environmental effects of pesticides on humans

Pesticides have the potential to come into contact with humans through various exposure routes depending on their status. These routes of exposure include the dermal or dermal route, the respiratory route, and the digestive route.

Exposure to pesticides can have acute or chronic health consequences, depending on the level of exposure. Acute effects are caused by brief but intense exposure to high doses and may manifest in systemic or localized symptoms. On the contrary, Chronic effects arise from prolonged exposure to low doses of pesticides over a long period of time.

When exposure levels, which are considered safe, are exceeded through direct or indirect exposure, health may be adversely affected. The effects that result from this can range from extreme, such as death in cases of acute poisoning, to chronic, long-term poisoning that can lead to a variety of health problems including immune system deficiencies, disorders of the neurological system, congenital deformities, reproductive problems and different types of cancer.

To reduce the negative impacts of pesticides, it is necessary to comply with the guidelines provided on the packaging and labels of various products.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the environmental effects of pesticides and their consequences.

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