A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substance intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest. A pesticide may be a chemical substance, biological agent (such as a virus or bacterium), antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest. Pesticides can be classified by target organism, chemical structure, and physical state. Pesticides can also be classed as inorganic, synthetic, or biologicals (biopesticides), although the distinction can sometimes blur. With the benefits that pesticides bring, it must also be taken into consideration that use of pesticides can have unintended effects on the environment and human health. It may appear to be incredible to many, but the fact is that pesticides or insect killers are among the most extensively used chemicals in the world today and they are also among the most hazardous compounds to the human well being. Pesticide use has raised a number of environmental concerns. Pesticides are one of the causes of water pollution, are persistent organic polluters and have contributed to soil contamination. In addition, the use of pesticide has reduced biodiversity and has resulted in lower soil quality. Studies have shown that pesticides can be extremely unsafe, particularly when they run off into waterways, which can cause both short and long term damage to people and the environment. Pesticides have contaminated almost every part of our environment. Hence, this paper will make an effort to assess the effects of pesticides not only on the human health but also on the environment of Pakistan. Pesticides can be dangerous to consumers, workers and close bystanders during manufacture, transport, or during and after use. Objectives of the Study Pesticides have been used for decades as a way of eliminating pests in order to protect crops. The study proposes to survey the extent and severity of the problem of pesticides and how it affects human health. There are perceived dangers from the use of pesticides. On the other hand, pesticides may be needed to protect the crops and add to the yield. The focus here will be on the city of Lahore, which is the second largest city in Pakistan, after Karachi, and with a population of over 10 million. Not only will the health effects of pesticides be looked into, but also its effects on the environment, especially water and fertility of agricultural land will be taken into

consideration. Further, we shall be looking at the forward and backward linkage effects of pesticides on the economy. The focus of our study will be on the end consumers of these agricultural products grown with excessive pesticides. That is, whether or not it is beneficial for the consumer in the long run. Also we shall investigate the awareness of the producers about the adverse effects of the excessive use of pesticides on their products. Producers use pesticides because they are effective and generally reasonably priced. It is important for these producers to be aware of the effects of these pesticides on their products. Apart from that, the kind of risks that they take with their lives, when they come in direct contact with pesticides, for example when mixing the chemicals or when applying them to the crops, has to be looked into too. Our paper shall also evaluate the rules and regulations laid out by the Government of Punjab, for the use of pesticides. Research Methodology The prime focus of this research is to see the effects of pesticides on human health and the environment. Here a basic framework for the methodology employed in carrying out the research will be given. A qualitative approach has been used. This type of an approach is better suited to answering questions like what, how, why. The result of this will not lead to law like generalizations but rather provide a descriptive picture of the situation. Qualitative research is a method of inquiry appropriated in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts. The need for it occurs here because of it’s flexibility and the fact that it involves fieldwork. This way, the effect of pesticides can be looked into more deeply, and one can gain a better understanding of it with multiple views. The population of this study is the upper income group living in DHA, who consume vegetables. Since the nature of this research is exploratory a purposive and convenient sample has been chosen which is identified as the most important kind of non-probability sampling. Purposive sampling groups participants according to preselected criteria relevant to a particular research question. Sample selection is also very important and a sample of 50 people living in DHA was chosen. Interviews form a very important part of qualitative research. We interviewed Dr. ____________.

Background and context The economy of Pakistan is largely based on agriculture. It contributes about 25% to thenational economy, provides employment for over 44% of the labour force and is main source of income in rural areas, which accounts for 70% of total population. The well being of the economy depends largely on the production, processing and distribution of major products such as cotton, wheat, edible oil, sugar, milk and meat. In the last decade, agriculture grew at an annual average rate of 4.5 per cent and exhibited fluctuating trend mainly on account of weather conditions, pest attacks on crops and shortage of inputs. Therefore, in order to increase agricultural output, plant protection measures, mainly pesticides, were used. The pesticides have been used to protect food stuffs, livestock and health of mankind. The use of pesticides in Pakistan commenced in 1952. It started with the introduction of an aerial spraying program on the key crops such as, cotton, rice and sugarcane. Simultaneously, pesticides were also used for locust control. Today, farmers are using pesticides in large quantities to save their crops and to get higher yield. These chemicals when mixed with crops, soil and water, play havoc with human life. In Pakistan, about 76% of the pesticides are consumed in cotton crop only. Nearly 50 per cent of the pesticides used in Pakistan are either extremely hazardous or highly hazardous. The use of pesticides has been increased manifold in recent years. Since 1980, there is almost a linear increase in the use of pesticides in the country. During 1999, the pesticide consumption was 30,212 metric tons whereas in 2008 it reached to. Pesticide abuse in Pakistan is not just a matter of environmental concern but whole of our economy and nation's' health is at stake. A war against unregulated and indiscriminate use of pesticides in the country means a war against disease and poverty.

Pesticides and Human Health

It may appear to be incredible to many, but the fact is that pesticides or insect killers are among the most extensively used chemicals in the world today and they are also among the most hazardous compounds to the human well being. In fact, there is an absence of adequate laws to restrict the use of such chemicals as well as inspect the unfavorable influences that have made the use of pesticides rampant in Pakistan, where the authorities solely depend on the versions provided by the pesticide manufacturers regarding their products. This has only worsened the situation vis-à-vis pesticide use. Going by the characterization of pesticides, they are chemical substances that are made use of to eliminate animals, insects, plant and fungal bugs in cultivation, at home as well as in institutions. Well, the question is whether the pesticides really kill those they are intended to. The answer is yes, but horrifying. These pesticides not only do their duty, but more. What is really horrifying is a report by the World Health Organization that makes an approximation that over 200,000 people is killed owing to the toxicity of these dangerous chemical world-wide every year. In fact, the casualty figures do not tell the real picture about the vast impact of the poisoning caused by these poisonous chemicals. Pesticides lead to over three million poisoning cases annually. Exposure to these pesticides or hazardous chemicals leads to several health problems that range from asthma attacks, skin rashes as well as chronic disorders like emphysema and cancer. Studies on animals have established the lethal aspect of the pesticides as well as their role in leading to cancerous growth. These studies conducted for regulatory actions against the pesticides have somewhat undermined the threat from these dangerous chemicals to humans. Effect on human health- through the consumption of pesticide contaminated fruits/vegetables. It is the children and the adult in our society who face the greatest health risk from the pesticides. Pesticides often makes the foodstuff they consume contaminated and poisonous. As they are the most susceptible among the rest of us, in the absence of adequate immune system in their body,

the pesticides tend to damage their tissues first and make them fall ill. What is appalling is that most of these pesticides are intended to disturb the nerve communication system in organisms. What is important to remember is that the biological consequences are likely to continue for several days, sometimes even months and years after coming in contact with these deadly chemicals. And repeated exposures to these pesticides lead the chemicals to build up in the tissues and later develop into lethal and degenerative diseases. Considering all these aspects, the scientists have come to the conclusion that the elderly population in our society are more prone to diseases caused by the pesticides. On the other hand, children too are very prone to develop diseases caused by these deadly pesticides and if there is any negligence towards their protection from such poisonous chemicals, it needs to be rectified immediately. And it must be kept in mind that food consumed by the people in Pakistan is highly contaminated with pesticides. This is primarily owing to the fact that the authorities concerned have approved around 250 to 300 different pesticides for use during cultivation and handling of different food products. Although the government has set some standards for the use of single chemicals to be used in agriculture and handling crops, even this underrates the threat to human health from the pesticides. For instance, on an average, the peach grown in Pakistan contains deposits of at least 40 different kinds of pesticides that possess the properties of the deadly chemicals used to manufacture them. Significantly, while evaluating the risks associated with the exposure to such pesticides, researchers often do not take the collective effect or consequences caused by these poisonous chemicals. Hence, most of the reports are ambiguous and mislead the regulatory authorities who set the limits for the use of different pesticides. Again, it is difficult to assess the risk to the children by conducting studies on adults as the biological as well as the immune system of the kids are greatly different. In fact, the children’s biological system can be described as ‘immature’ or not fully developed to counter the actions of the chemicals. Considering this as well as the fact that we mostly come in contact with pesticides through our food, everyone needs to know that the uppermost on our food sequence is breast milk which encloses numerous chemicals and all in superior intensity.

It is important to note that the growth of the fetus is also impinged on owing to exposure to pesticides. In addition, the limits set by the regulatory bodies for the use of different pesticides too are impractical as well as dangerous. For instance, the currently sanctioned intensity of aldicarb on watermelons is so unrealistic that a 10 kg child consuming the fruit may intake sufficient amount of pesticides that could give rise to intense toxicity, revealing symptoms like vomiting, convulsions and even collapse of the respiratory system. Moreover, a child’s nature or behavior, like frequently putting the hand in mouth and the time they spend playing on the ground, put them at a greater danger of being exposed to the poisonous chemicals contained in the pesticides. According to a report on poisoning through insecticides, approximately 56 per cent of such cases take place in children below the age of six. Thus, collecting all the above mentioned facts, one may establish that the children not only have many different ways of coming in contact with the poisonous chemicals contained in pesticides, but also more prone to developing deadly and degenerative diseases following the exposure to the chemicals. Moreover, the potential period between exposure to the chemicals and the beginning of the diseases is much more in children. Hence, it may be safely assessed that children are more prone to different diseases caused by the chemicals in the pesticides. It may also be concluded that those at the helm of affairs of the health department are aware of these issues and have been initiating steps to safeguard our children from such poisonous attacks. Unfortunately, this is not the real scenario. This is evident from the fact that the history of exposure to dangerous chemicals seldom comes up during a patient’s consultation with the physicians. Even if it does, it is merely a passing mention. Moreover, it has been noted that most medical practitioners are not adequately trained to identify or diagnose the effects of pesticides on our well being. Normally, whenever a person suffers from vomiting or rashes, doctors pass them off as effects of viral attacks. Seldom have they tried to look deeper into the problem. As a result, the cause of most cases of vomiting and rashes stay unobserved. Acute symptoms of pesticide poisoning include:

numbness, tingling sensations, lack of coordination headache, dizziness, tremor, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating, blurred vision, difficulty breathing or respiratory depression, or slow heartbeat. Very high doses can result in unconsciousness, convulsions, or death. Chronic effects of longterm pesticide exposure include: impaired memory and concentration, disorientation, severe depression, irritability, confusion, headache, speech difficulties, delayed reaction times, nightmares, sleepwalking, and drowsiness or insomnia. Certain pesticides have been demonstrated to be cholinesterase inhibitors (disrupting nervous system function) or endocrine disruptors (interfering with hormone production and action). Evidence also exists linking pesticide exposure to respiratory and skin diseases, cancers, birth defects, and reproductive and neurological disorders. Children and unborn babies are particularly susceptible to pesticide poisoning. Their widespread exposure to pesticides in developing nations is of grave concern.

How and why pesticides affect human health Pesticides ARE TOXIC by design. Some of the most potent pesticides are insecticides, those targeting the nervous system of insects. Unfortunately, the basic neural mechanism is similar in insects and mammals, making humans susceptible to these potentially lethal chemicals as well. In both groups of organisms, messages are transmitted along nerve cells using electrical impulses. When these reach the end of a nerve, a chemical ‘neurotransmitter’ activates the next cell in the chain.Each new release of neurotransmitter can be detected by the recipient cell as enzymes exist which break down and remove any neurotransmitter left from previous signals. One important neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, is broken down by the enzyme

acetylcholinesterase.Two major classes of pesticides, the organophosphates and the carbamates, inhibit acetylcholinesterase (and are cholinesterase-inhibitors)4. Acetylcholine accumulates in the synapse and there is a ‘jamming’ of information preventing messages from being passed properly between nerve cells. Depending on the dose, effects may be minor or (at the extreme) fatal. Cholinesterase-inhibitors prevent nerves from working correctly. This can affect the nerves in the brain, responsible for release of hormones or controlling hormones’actions. Since hormones are especially important in early stages of human development and in reproduction, such ‘endocrine disruption’ can be particularly damaging to human embryos or children . Organochlorines and pyrethroids (two other major classes of pesticide) also attack the nervous system, but these chemicals are not cholinesterase-inhibitors.Their main effect is on individual nerve cells, interfering with the transmission of messages along their length. Organochlorine insecticides are often extremely resistant to degradation, making them persistent in the environment. They can accumulate in animals’ fat tissue, concentrating further at each level up the food chain. Harmful effects are therefore most likely to be seen at the top of the food chain, in birds of prey, or humans, for example.This is the major reason that their use has been increasingly prohibited, especially in industrialised countries.electrical signal passes along nerve cell this causes the release of acetylcholine acetylcholine binds to eceptor on the next nerve cell electrical signal continues acetylcholine is re-formed etylcholineesterase breaks down acetylcholine, ending signal. The role of acetylcholine in transmission of information between nerve cells, a process interrupted by cholinesterase-inhibiting pesticides.

Routes of exposure Pesticide-related health problems result from exposures, which occur chiefly via one or more of the following routes: ● Oral ingestion ● Inhalation ● Dermal (through the skin)

Routes of exposure vary between chemicals. For example, dichlorvos (DDVP) is volatile and so more likely to be inhaled, endosulfan is more toxic dermally than by inhalation, and chlorpyrifos is less likely to be taken in across skin than by ingestion or inhalation. Occupational exposure Farm workers and people employed in the manufacture of pesticides are especially at risk of pesticide exposure. Such risks are particularly pronounced in developing nations, where hazards are commonly less well understood and health and safety regulations are less stringent or are poorly-enforced. Accidental oral contamination can occur when farmers eat, drink or smoke while spraying or do so shortly after spraying without first washing their hands. Inhalation of pesticides is promoted by spraying without protective masks, whilst absorption through the skin is made more likely when skin and clothes are wet during spraying10 or when farmers mix pesticides with bare hands, or walk barefoot in fields while spraying. Although ingesting pesticides is generally the most dangerous form of exposure, inhalation and absorption through the skin are probably the major causes of occupational poisoning cases among farmers in developing nations as they are often unaware of these particular risks. Environmental exposure Most studies of pesticides’ health impacts have considered only occupational exposure, and relatively little is known about health risks to the wider community exposed to pesticides. In rural El Salvador, detectable levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites were found in the urine of 30% of subjects not involved in agricultural work.Thus, exposure via environmental as well as occupational routes is a cause for concern although it is often harder to draw links between such exposure and illness. There are a number of ways in which non-occupational pesticide exposure can occur, e.g. by aerial drift during spraying or via contact with contaminated food, water, soil, clothes or mother’s milk. A recent study has revealed organochlorine pesticide residues present in newborn humans 25 years after use of the chemicals ceased, suggesting long-term public health problems. Dietary risks When pesticides are applied at excessively high concentrations and frequencies, or are used near the time of harvest, high levels of pesticide residues may remain on the crops. Consumers are

therefore at risk of exposure. Drinking water may also be contaminated, either by direct pollution of water systems or through use of the same containers to mix pesticides and to transport drinking water. A major concern, especially in developing countries, is that low protein diets may increase people’s sensitivity to the effects of certain pesticides. Risks to children Developing organisms have increased susceptibility to the actions of endocrine-disrupting chemicals because differentiating tissues are more vulnerable to changes in hormone levels. Thus, children are at greater risk of toxicant-related illnesses than adults. Children also experience different exposure risks to pesticides generally. For instance, there is a risk of pesticides affecting the offspring of exposed farmers through contamination of their sperm or eggs. Similarly, developing embryos can be exposed to pesticides in mothers’ blood as it crosses the placenta, and infants may be exposed to contaminated breast milk, which may contain pesticides levels exceeding those recommended by the World Health Organisation.Although exposure through breast milk is absolutely greater than that during development in the womb, in utero exposure is relatively more significant due to the greater vulnerability of the brain and central nervous system at the earlier stages of development. Children have a higher surface area to weight ratio. Per kilogram of body weight, they drink more water, eat more food and breathe more air than adults. Playing close to the ground, children are exposed to pesticides in the soil. Also, some pesticide vapours form a low-lying layer in the air. Children have greater exploratory and ‘hand-tomouth’ behaviour, and are therefore more likely to come into direct contact with and take in environmental pesticide residues and they are also vulnerable to accidents where pesticides are improperly stored (e.g. in food containers). Farm children are at elevated risk of pesticide-related illnesses in many countries, not least because they are directly involved in agriculture, including mixing and application of agrochemicals.

Neurological disorders A number of studies show strong associations between pesticide exposure and neurological symptoms, although mechanisms at work are not always clear. Cholinesterase depletion Some of the neurological effects associated with pesticides are due to their ability to inhibit

neurotransmitters, like acetyl cholinesterase (AChE). AChE is a key enzyme functioning in transmission of neurological information across junctions between nerve cells . AChE depletion has been positively associated with frequency of pesticide spraying, but negatively associated with use of gloves, overalls, nose and mouth protection, and implementation of health and safety procedures. Parkinson’s disease Parkinson’s disease is a disorder in which damage to nerve cells in the area of the brain coordinating movement causes a loss of coordination that often appears as tremor, stiff muscles and joints, and/or difficulty moving. Current opinion holds that the disorder is caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Evidence for pesticides being a causal factor comes from both laboratory and epidemiological studies of correlations between pesticide use and Parkinson’s disease. Cancer Studies of farmers, mostly from industrialised countries, tend to show excesses of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, melanoma, leukaemia, multiple myeloma and soft tissue sarcoma. Cancers of the breast, ovary, lip, prostate, lung, bladder, cervix, brain, kidney, stomach, and sinonasal cavities have also been frequently observed Cancers of the skin and lip are likely to be linked to increased exposure to UV light, but for the remainder there is evidence (varying in reliability for different cancers) linking them to pesticide exposure. One reason that associations are often difficult to confirm is that farmers use many chemicals, varying according to the crop, etc., and are exposed to other carcinogenic factors such as grain mould and diesel fumes. Studies therefore rarely identify specific chemicals as being responsible. Causal factors for cancers are in any case difficult to confirm. Onset can occur a long time after exposure to the causal agent. Even establishing the link between smoking and lung cancer took a decade of research, despite the fact that smoking has now been estimated to cause over 40% of lung cancers in Pakistan.

Data Analysis

Q- Do fruits and vegetables form an essential part of your daily diet? Fruits and vegetables constitute a significant portion of people’s daily diet. People depend on fruits and vegetables as their main source of vitamins and other vital nutrients. Everyone needs 5 to 9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables for the nutrients they contain and for general health. Nutrition and health is the main reasons people eat certain fruits and vegetables; there may be many other reasons. Questionnaire results are consistent with this fact.95% of the sample said that fruits and vegetables form an essential part of their daily diet. Significance of this result is that larger the number of people consuming pesticide infected fruits and vegetable greater would be the magnitude of problem.

Q- If yes, do you make sure that the fruits and vegetables are properly washed prior to

Most of the fruits and vegetables we consume daily are sprayed with harmful pesticides and chemical, unless they are grown organically. Therefore it becomes very important to wash them properly to get rid of all the pesticide residues which can otherwise make you ill. The result obtained is somewhat misleading and in reality more than 35 % people actually don’t pay much attention to the issue. People do not want to admit that do not wash their vegetables properly. Also

these days there is growing trend of hiring servants to work in the kitchen and these servants don’t pay much attention to washing and cleaning of the fruits and vegetables.

Q- Do you think these pesticides are harmful for human health?
According to the survey findings, it was figured that 67 % of the people surveyed were aware of the harmful effects of the pesticides. One of the reasons for such a high percentage of awareness could be attributed to the fact that the people surveyed belonged to a high income group level with a good educational background. However, the 33% of the people turned out claiming that pesticides had no harmful effect which supports our above findings that 35% of the people did not wash their vegetables with enough care.

Q- What additional amount are you willing to pay for organically grown vegetables?

Although a mixed but marginally diminishing response was observed when people were asked regarding their additional willingness to pay for organically grown vegetable. since most of them were aware of the damages caused by pesticides, many were willing to pay in the ranges of Rs 10 to Rs 15.Ones who were very environmental conscious and held strong views regarding their effects were willing to pay up to Rs 20 as well. Even though the sample surveyed belong to a higher income group level, a lower willingness to pay regarding the issue was registered. One of the reasons for such an outcome is that people in Pakistan are not aware of the extent of the adverse effects the pesticides might have. Figure 5 below shows the marginal willingness to pay curve that falls as the additional price on the product increases. This in turn is also supported by the pie-chart that registers that only 3% of the people are willing to pay additional amount of Rs. 20 for vegetables and fruits free from pesticides.

Q- According to you how severe is the effect of these pesticides?

The results obtained comprise of a larger quota of individuals who do believe that pesticides are harmful and have mild effect on human health. 33% of the people, who previously claimed that pesticides are not harmful, believed that pesticides had no effect on the human health at all. This can be seen by the percentage presented by the pie chart, which claims that 32% of the people believe pesticides to have no effect. However, a minority was aware that pesticides do have severe effects on the human health. The results are misleading and are contrary to the theoretical research implying that, although, people are aware of usage and effects of pesticides, they do not know the extent of the damage being done. Since pesticides act like a slow poison many are not able to relate the cause of their diseases with the usage of pesticides.

Q- Have you experienced any of the following symptoms over the past few weeks? As the pie chart shows, that majority of the people experienced fatigue and headache very often. 55% said they experienced fatigue, whereas another 25% complained of headache. A very less percentage, of almost 10 % said dizziness where as the rest 5 % said they experience loss of conscious. The remaining 5 % claimed that they were healthy and did not experience any of these symptoms.

These two symptoms according to the research done are directly a result of excessive amount of pesticide intake. Although pesticide intake is not the only reason for the symptoms mentioned, but is definitely one of the important reasons behind them. Yet, people do not realize that eating vegetables that are grown in pesticides is a significant factor behind their unhealthy lives.

Q-Did you ever suffer of the below mentioned diseases? Next question put to the target sample was directed at investigating the adverse health effects in the form of chronic diseases have on human health. This was investigated by asking whether or not they have suffered from asthma, emphysema, cancer or rashes. All these problems are the ultimate long run effects of pesticides. Almost 40 % people claimed that Rashes is a problem that comes and goes. Second highest rated problem was of Asthma that was pointed out by 15% of people in the sample, almost 10 % people said that they had suffered of different sorts of cancer whereas almost 7 % complained of having suffered of Emphysema and 28% claimed that they did not suffer of any diseases mentioned above.

Q-If you experienced any of the diseases mentioned above how much did you spend on the treatment? Then the monetary cost of pesticide intake was established by trying to estimate the amount of money spent by the victims of excessive pesticide in medication of these diseases. 55% spent Rs 5000-10000, every month whereas, 25% spent, Rs1000-5000 and remaining 20 % spent Rs10, 000 and above every month on medication. The enormous medication costs of the diseases, clearly indicates that pesticide intake has a huge opportunity cost, hence the consumers of agricultural products should try and avoid pesticide ridden food as much as possible.


We combined with our results a research that has already been carried out and published by the name of “A Quantitative Analysis For The Toxic Pesticide Residues
In Marketed Fruits and Vegetables In Lahore, Pakistan”. This study was an attempt to assess the health hazards faced by the consumers through possible ingestion of toxic chemicals contained in the fruits and vegetables. In this cross sectional analytical study, tomato, apple and cucumber samples were collected from four main markets of Lahore and were analyzed separately for the levels of nine pesticide residues using Liquid Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry system. The levels were compared with the maximum residue limits set by the WHO for every pesticide in respective items. The results showed that most of the samples did not contain any residues of the nine selected pesticides and only two samples of tomato had detectable residues of one pesticide Imidacloprid, which were within the limits set by the WHO. So it was concluded that the analyzed fruit and vegetable samples did not pose a serious threat to the health of the consumers.

EFFECTS ON FARMERS The problem however is more severe for the farmers who come in direct contact these harmful chemical and they have to face greatest risk in terms of dermal exposure and inhalation.





1)HUMAN HEALTH Pesticide Applicators Fatalities, treatment Cost Blood samples Monitoring cost, Awareness campaigns, work days loss 2)PRODUCTION EXTERNALITIES Pest Resistance Yield loss Research and extension, more pesticide use cost

Health and environmental damage complexity to develop general recommendation

Establishment of regular residue monitoring system Campaigns On Safe Use Of Pesticides


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