What is a Pesticide?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  defines a “pesticide” (with certain minor exceptions) as:
- Any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest
- Any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant
- Any nitrogen stabilizer
What's the Problem With Pesticides?
Pesticides can be found in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. They are found in the soil and even in breast milk. Pesticides are the only legal toxic substances that are released intentionally into our environment to kill living things: to kill weeds (herbicides), insects (insecticides), fungi (fungicides), rodents (rodenticides), and others.
Pesticides are incredibly harmful to human health, and have been proven to cause reproductive and developmental effects, cancer, kidney and liver damage, endocrine disruption, and other severe health problems. People are exposed to pesticides when they breathe air where the chemicals have been sprayed, drink contaminated water, or come into contact with areas where pesticides have been used.
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What are the Most Common Pesticide Injuries?
The most common side effects of pesticide exposure include eye and skin irritations such as burning, itching, and rash. Pesticides have also shown the potential to cause damage to the nervous and immune systems, sometimes even leading to the development of certain cancers and death.
The reproductive system is especially vulnerable to pesticide exposure risks. The risks of exposure can include a higher rate of:
- Birth abnormalities
- Decreased birth weight
- Fertility problems for both men and women
Which Products Contain Pesticides?
Pesticides are contained in many common household products, including:
- Cockroach sprays and baits
- Insect repellents
- Rat, mice and other rodent poisons
- Flea and tick sprays, powders, and pet collars
- Kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfectants and sanitizers
- Mold and mildew removal products
- Some lawn and garden products, such as weed killers
- Some swimming pool chemicals
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Which Pesticide is Most Dangerous to Humans?
Paraquat, which is a herbicide designed to control weeds and grasses, and is also a restricted-use pesticide due to its acute toxicity, is highly toxic to humans; one small sip can be fatal and there is no antidote. The product labeling prohibits pouring paraquat into food or beverage containers with the prominently-placed statements: “NEVER PUT INTO FOOD, DRINK OR OTHER CONTAINERS.”
How is a Pesticide Different From a Herbicide?
Pesticides are used to eliminate pests by either killing or poisoning their target. Things are considered to be pests if they infringe on our access to food, spread disease, harm the environment, or cause damage to our property.
Herbicides are a type of pesticide that specifically targets weeds and other unwanted plants. They fall into 2 categories:
- Selective herbicides - kill only one sort of plant in an area that contains several plant varieties.
- Non-selective herbicides - kill all plants in the area where it is applied. Unlike selective herbicides, non-selective herbicides can’t distinguish between species, and will kill any plant or weed it comes into contact with.
Pesticides in Produce
More than 70% of non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful pesticides, according to the 2022 Environmental Working Group Shopper's Guide . The guide, which looks at test data from the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration, also found that over 50% of potatoes, spinach, lettuce and eggplant had detectable levels of at least one of three bee-killing neonic insecticides banned in the European Union but still allowed for use on U.S. produce.
How Long Do Pesticides Stay in the Body?
The answer to this question depends on the pesticide. Some have pesticide half-lives that persist in the bloodstream for hours, others, years. Old-fashioned, fat-soluble pesticides could persist in the body for months to years. Modern pesticides are water-soluble.
What is a Pesticide Half-Life?
A half-life is the time it takes for a certain amount of a pesticide to be reduced by half. This occurs as it dissipates or breaks down in the environment. In general, a pesticide will break down to 50% of the original amount after a single half-life.
How Do I Test Myself for Pesticide Poisoning?
The most specific standard test for organophosphate pesticide poisoning is the red blood cell (RBC) cholinesterase test. Plasma cholinesterase (also known as pseudocholinesterase) may also be useful.
Get a Free Pesticides Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Pharmaceutical Litigation Group at our law firms is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in pesticides lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one was injured after using or being exposed to pesticides, you should contact a Pesticides Lawyer immediately. You may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a lawsuit and a Pesticides Lawyer can help.