Pesticides can cause short-term adverse health impacts, called acute effects, as well as chronic adverse impacts that can occur months or years after exposure. For instance, acute health effects include stinging eyes, rashes, blisters, blindness, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea and death. Chronic adverse effects include cancers, birth defects, reproductive harm, neurological and developmental toxicity, immunotoxicity, and disruption of the endocrine system . Studies have linked Parkinson’s disease to pesticide exposure. Accurate statistics on the health effects of pesticides are not available but estimates range from 1 to 41 milion people affected every year, affecting disproportionately children and infants.
Symptoms of pesticide poisoning often mimic symptoms of colds or the flu. Therefore, pesticide poisonings are often misdiagnosed and under-reported. Immediate symptoms may not be severe enough to urge an individual to seek medical attention, or a doctor might not think to ask about pesticide exposure.
Pesticides can enter the body through inhalation of air containing pesticides, through dermal exposure by direct contact of pesticides with the skin, by ingestion of food (such as fruits and vegetables) sprayed with pesticides.
Agriculture that protects people and the environment does not rely on toxic pesticides. On the contrary, diverse and healthy agricultural ecosystems, free of toxic chemicals, have a proven record of providing nutritious food and a safe environment.