Pesticides are Polluting Our Waters, and We Often Don’t Know It

In the article, “Pesticides are Polluting Our Waters, and We Often Don’t Know It“, authors describe how pesticides have redefined modern agriculture, allowing for extremely high crop yields. Pesticides work to increase crop yields by preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating pests such as bugs or fungi that otherwise threaten crop production. While pesticide use has highly benefitted crop production, widespread use has also triggered several drawbacks around environmental and human health. Several studies have been conducted to demonstrate the human health impacts of certain pesticides, but it has been difficult to obtain a clear representation of all of the effects since there is a multitude of potential contributing factors including the types, concentrations, and toxicity.

Particularly concerning is the pollution of water bodies surrounding agricultural areas of high pesticide use, which allow the chemicals to be spread further from the sites. Specifically, in the bodies of water surrounding agricultural sites, scientists have detected chemical levels that exceed the regulations set forth by the EPA. However, data is overwhelmingly sparse for bodies of water directly surrounding agricultural sites. I find this particularly concerning as these areas are the source of the pesticide dispersal problem, yet they are hardly being monitored. Besides those working directly in the agricultural fields, it is typically not until the pesticides are dispersed away from these sources that human health impacts are felt. Once the pesticides are transported away from these sites, they are dispersed in bodies of water and surrounding environments, posing a risk to those areas.

Research has shown that of 11,300 measurements of pesticide concentration taken in lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, and creeks near agricultural fields worldwide, about half had values above the limits set by the U.S or E.U. This is also particularly concerning as pesticide concentration measurements have not been conducted in about 90% of all agricultural sites. Without this data regarding pesticide usage and concentrations, the impacts to both human and environmental health cannot be adequately assessed, and will continue to pose a major threat to both humans and the environment in the surrounding areas.

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