Pesticides are one of the most insidious and dangerous chemicals that exist with and the consequences of their use go far beyond devastation to the environment. The harmful effects of pesticides on human health are profound, extensive, and frightening.
Pesticides go by a variety of names like insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and bactericides. Anything that is designed to kill weeds, bugs, bacteria, and fungus is a pesticide. This includes weed prevention, weed abatement, mosquito fogging, bug bombs, ant spray, mosquito spray, termiticides, rodent control, flea and tick spray, lice treatments, bee and wasp spray, crop spraying, etc.
Most people are not even aware that they are exposed to these toxic substances on a daily basis and have no concept of the very harmful consequences they have on human health. They are unaware that pesticides are a powerful neurotoxin, carcinogen, and endocrine disruptor.
Pesticides are found in almost every public place, such as the grocery store, schools, office buildings, hospitals, banks, golf courses, neighbors’ yards, highways, parks, on your food, and often in your own house.
For example, most electric companies spray your electric poles with herbicide yearly. Most of your banks, grocery stores, and retail stores spray pesticides monthly. Your state sprays the shoulders on your highway on a regular basis. If you’re not eating organic, your food is coated with them.
Pesticides are Neurotoxins
Pesticides were originally designed as nerve gasses for chemical warfare. They were designed to kill living things and when it was discovered that they worked so well in killing people they decided to use them in smaller doses to kill weeds, insects, etc.
The chief target organ of pesticides is the brain because pesticides seek out lipids and the brain is highly lipid with a high density of acetylcholinesterase, which is the target enzyme of pesticides. They inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme controls the metabolism of our neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Acetylcholine is the major neurotransmitter in the brain and what Dr. Sherry Rogers calls our primary happy hormone. It is the basic chemical that makes the brain, all the nerves, and the muscles work. Pesticides disrupt this hormone. Acetylcholine also controls our autonomic nervous system, which includes the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. When pesticides inhibit acetylcholinesterase, then high levels of acetylcholine build up and trigger the body to remain in the fight or flight state. This causes the continuous release of norepinephrine, adrenalin. and cortisol, which among other things causes high levels of anxiety, increase heart rate, nervousness, insomnia, irritability. and can ultimately cause burnout of the adrenal glands.
Pesticides also inhibit the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin, our natural antidepressant, which leads to insufficient levels of serotonin and ultimately depression.
Organophosphate pesticides are taken directly into our nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and long nerves). The organophosphate known as chlorpyrifos is transformed into chlorpyrifos-oxon when the body breaks it down, which is actually 3000 times more potent than the original compound.
Then what is frequently done is to mix organophosphate pesticides with organochloride pesticides and then they disrupt norepinephrine and dopamine as well as serotonin, which also results in anxiety and depression, as well as addiction, and many other physical and emotional health problems.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that are responsible for numerous functions within the mind and body, especially our mood states, the nervous system, and cognitive functioning. When neurotransmitters are not functioning properly then a variety of conditions develop. Pesticide exposure is believed to be linked to a variety of serious conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, clinical depression, anxiety disorders, hyperactivity, insomnia, or disrupted sleep and attention deficit.
The reason Dr. Sherry Rogers calls these neurotransmitters our happy hormones is because they control how we feel. When they are not produced in adequate numbers or functioning properly then feelings of sadness, depression, and hopelessness develop. It should be very clear at this point as to why we have an epidemic of depression in our society. All of our happy hormones have been disrupted!!
Several studies have found that pesticides increase your risk of developing Parkinson’s significantly. At the University of California, their study found that a pesticide called maneb increases your risk of developing Parkinson’s by 75 percent. When more than 90,000 licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses were followed closely, their risk of developing Parkinson’s was found to be 2.5 times higher. A study in the Archives of Neurology found that you’re twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s if you use pesticides.
As much as one-third of the population may not have enough paraoxonase, an enzyme that is vital for detoxifying organophosphates, which leaves them much more vulnerable to herbicide toxicity.
Pesticides are a primary endocrine/hormone disruptor. An endocrine or hormone disruptor is a chemical that impedes the normal functioning of the endocrine and hormone systems by attaching to the receptor sites.
The endocrine system includes the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, pineal body, pancreas, and reproductive organs. It plays a vital role in practically every function in the body and works in conjunction with the nervous system.
Xenoestrogens are a particularly damaging subclass of hormone/endocrine disruptors. In some instances, they mimic hormones like estrogen, while in other instances it disrupts the way they are produced or function in the body.
When the endocrine system is disrupted it leads to a variety of debilitating health conditions like low or high blood sugar, adrenal disorders, hypothyroidism, inability to handle stress, infertility, endometriosis, addiction, depression, anxiety, weight gain and obesity, insomnia or sleep problems, sexual disorders like low sex drive and erectile dysfunction, hormone imbalances, low sperm count, hyperactivity, increased cholesterol and many more.
Here are some other related articles you’ll want to read on the harmful effects of pesticides on human health:
What You Need to Know About Mosquito Fogging
Why You Should Avoid Mosquito Repellent
Is Roundup Affecting Your Health?
According to the World Health Organization between 1 million and 25 million people suffer from pesticide poisoning each year. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 people in the US will develop cancer each year from the residue of pesticides on their food.
What is most horrific about these numbers is that these are people we are aware of, but the number is much higher when we include the enormous number of people suffering from pesticide symptoms unknowingly. People with psychological disturbance, depression, migraines, pain for no apparent reason, breathing difficulties, impaired mobility, cholesterol disturbances, reproductive difficulties, and a whole list of other symptoms are often the result of pesticide exposure.
If your body can’t metabolize all the pesticides taken in at once, it stores it in various tissues, organs, and fat and then leaks it out slowly weeks, months, or even years later. Pesticides are difficult to excrete and become stored in fat cells and can remain indefinitely wreaking havoc on your body for years. So symptoms can be delayed and come on very slowly and therefore the exposed person may never connect the pesticides to the symptoms.
Pesticides also inhibit our other enzymes like ATPase, (which is needed for energy) which can result in chronic fatigue. Cholesterol ester hydrolase enzyme, which creates impaired cholesterol metabolism and the enzymes that affect how the body and mind can handle stress.
In addition to the brain, pesticides also affect the kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, and reproductive system. They have mutagenicity abilities (meaning they can promote cancer cells) and teratogenicity abilities (meaning can cause birth defects).
Pesticides can also land on thyroid receptors, impairing the normal function of the thyroid gland and resulting in hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
Other toxic ingredients are usually added to pesticides as well, to enhance their effectiveness. For example permethrins, a popular and widely used pesticide in mosquito fogging and abatement of lice, mites, fleas, ticks, ants, and termites as well as crops of cotton, wheat, and corn, paralyzes the nervous system of the bug but doesn’t kill it.
So another chemical called piperonyl butoxide is added, which inhibits the bug’s detoxification system from working. Together these ingredients wipe out the bugs by targeting their nervous system and detoxification pathways and this is exactly what it does to humans as well, but on a less noticeable scale for most. It’s enough to kill the bugs, but only enough to result in a disrupted nervous system and impaired liver function in the human, which results in chronic health conditions.
Pesticides Effect on Human Health
The harmful effects of pesticides on human health are vast and may be immeasurable, but here are some of the most common:
- because of the disruption of neurotransmitters two of the most common symptoms are depression and anxiety
- they can and often do mimic psychological disturbances
- loss of memory
- loss of problem solving ability, mental flexibility and abstraction capabilities
- anxiety attacks or panic attacks
- sensitivity to criticism
- delayed neuropathy with numbness
- adrenal fatigue
- intellect dysfunction
- social withdrawal
- degeneration of the retina
- chronic fatigue
- headaches and/or migraines
- chest pain
- multiple chemical sensitivity
- poor coordination
- auto immunity
- malfunctioning neurotransmitters
- breathing difficulties
- muscle weakness and pain and loss of muscle control
- impaired mobility
- uncontrollable shaking and trembling
- heart palpitations
- insomnia or difficulties with sleep
Any of the harmful effects of pesticides can occur from just one single dose of pesticide and sometimes symptoms and damage are not reversible.
Even if we avoid the use of pesticides and avoid places where they are present, they can still make it into our homes and destroy our health. I once had to move and had to throw away almost all my belongings because my neighbors who were a good 1/4 mile down the road sprayed herbicide to their fence post and it got in my house.
I become extremely ill with breathing difficulties, impaired mobile ability, migraines, excessive anxiety, excruciating pain in my spinal cord and all muscles and bones, heart palpitations, and uncontrollable shaking from head to toe. I couldn’t sleep hardly at all for an entire year. I honestly didn’t think I was going to survive. Prior to this exposure, I had been taking three grains of Armour thyroid a day for many years because of hypothyroidism. Within days of this exposure, I could no longer take my thyroid hormone or I would have “hyper” thyroid symptoms. However, I still exhibited symptoms of low thyroid without the medication.
When I finally left this house and got into a clean environment, I slept almost non-stop for three months, but my body has never completely recovered from this event. To this day if I come in contact with pesticides, my brain and body respond with violent tremors that border on convulsions, diarrhea, high levels of anxiety, deep depression, impaired thyroid function, respiratory distress, numb tongue, and lips, impaired ability to think or speak clearly and an inability to sleep. Millions of other people respond to pesticides in a similar manner, but this information is kept from the public.
This scenario shows us that the dangers of pesticides travel long distances, are very pervasive and toxic even in small doses.
Steps to Reduce Harmful Effects of Pesticides
- Do not use any in your home or your yard. Use non-toxic and healthy alternatives for ants, weeds, etc.
- Take your shoes off before entering your house. This is extremely important because shoes pick up pesticides everywhere they go. When you track them into the house, their potency increases and they are more toxic than when they were originally applied.
- Avoid places where you know they spray. Golf courses are especially toxic.
- Ask your neighbors, state, and city to notify when they use pesticides or herbicides and make sure your windows are closed during the application and for a couple of weeks after.
- Eat organic.
- Do not live in an agriculture area.
It’s important to understand that any chemical that is designed to kill a living creature or plant, regardless of how small it is, will be harmful to all living things. It’s just common sense, so no matter what your government, TV commercials, neighbors, etc., tell you, There is no safe level of pesticide. The harmful effects of pesticides on human health are always a risk.