Pesticide Hazards

Hazards to Children | Hazards to Applicators | Hazards to the Environment | Links for Researching Hazards of Particular Pesticides

Pesticides are Intentional Poisons

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, "By their very nature, most pesticides create some risk of harm - Pesticides can cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment because they are designed to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms."

Pesticides have the potential to cause many harmful health effects, including cancer, reproductive damage, and harm to the human brain and nervous system.  They can also aggravate allergies or asthma.  In addition, harmful residues can remain in soil or leach into local waterways.

For summary information about some of the hazards of specific pesticides used by PPS, see Hazards of Pesticides Used at PPS.  To seek more complete information about the hazards of particular pesticides, see Links for Researching Hazards of Particular Pesticides below.

Pesticides and Children Donít Mix

Children are known to be especially vulnerable to some of the harmful impacts of pesticides.  Because of their smaller body size and their behaviors, children face greater potential exposure to pesticides.  Because their bodies are still developing, children are more susceptible to the damage caused by certain kinds of toxins.

Hazards to Pesticide Applicators

Pesticide applicators are at particular risk of exposure as they handle or apply pesticides.  There are multiple ways applicators can be exposed, and even protective clothing does not eliminate the risks.  There are many harmful health effects that have been linked to pesticide exposure, including rashes, respiratory ailments, permanent vision impairment, reproductive problems, Parkinson's disease, cancer, and others.

Hazards to the Environment

Pesticides can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation.  In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants. Insecticides are generally the most acutely toxic class of pesticides, but herbicides can also pose risks to non-target organisms.  The article below examines the environmental impact of some commonly used landscape pesticides, with a special emphasis on the herbicides glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), 2,4-D, dichlobenil (in Casoron), clopyralid and triclopyr (in Confront), oxadiazon (in Ronstar), isoxaben and trifluralin (in Snapshot), and oryzalin (in Surflan).

Links for Researching Hazards of Particular Pesticides

Pesticides by Chemical Name/Active Ingredient

Cancer-Causing Pesticides Nerve Poisons Reproductive Toxins and Endocrine Disruptors
This site created and maintained by Portland Parents for Alternatives to Pesticides (PPAP). This page was last updated February 2003.