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Title: Pesticide  
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Subject: Herbicide, Health effects of pesticides, Soil contamination, List of types of poison, Biopesticide
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A crop-duster spraying pesticide on a field
A Lite-Trac four-wheeled self-propelled crop sprayer spraying pesticide on a field

Pesticides are substances meant for attracting, seducing, and then destroying, or mitigating any pest.[1] They are a class of biocide. The most common use of pesticides is as plant protection products (also known as crop protection products), which in general protect plants from damaging influences such as weeds, plant diseases or insects. This use of pesticides is so common that the term pesticide is often treated as synonymous with plant protection product, although it is in fact a broader term, as pesticides are also used for non-agricultural purposes. The term pesticide includes all of the following: herbicide, insecticide, insect growth regulator, nematicide, termiticide, molluscicide, piscicide, avicide, rodenticide, predacide, bactericide, insect repellent, animal repellent, antimicrobial, fungicide, disinfectant (antimicrobial), and sanitizer.[2]

In general, a pesticide is a

  • NIH encyclopedia pages with emergency treatment of Insecticide exposure
  • Hazard Communications for Agricultural Workers (October 2007)
  • National Agricultural Workers Survey
  • David Suzuki Foundation: Protecting Your Health from Pesticides
  • Field evaluation of protective clothing against non-agricultural pesticides by A Soutar and others. Institute of Occupational Medicine Research Report TM/00/04
  • A comparison of different methods for assessment of dermal exposure to nonagricultural pesticides in three sectors by SN Tannahill and others. Institute of Occupational Medicine Research Report TM/96/07
Human health
  • UK Pesticides Safety Directorate
  • Pesticide laws guidance for Scotland and Northern Ireland on
  • European Commission pesticide information
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pesticides Program
  • : US EPA Pesticide Chemical Search
  • USDA Pesticide Data Program, tracking residue levels in food
Pesticide regulatory authorities
  • National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) Information about pesticide-related topics.
  • Pesticide Modes of action (International Pesticide Application Research Centre)
  • Beyond Pesticides, founded in 1981 as the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides - Source of information on pesticide hazards, least-toxic practices and products, and on pesticide issues. Website has Daily News Blog relating to pesticides.
  • Compendium of Pesticide Common Names: Classified Lists of Pesticides Lists of pesticide names by type.
  • Pesticide Action Network. PAN Pesticides Database. Compilation of multiple regulatory databases into a web-accessible form.
  • PPDB Pesticide Properties Database A to Z index of pesticides

External links

  • Janofsky, M (August 4, 2006). "E.P.A. recommends limits on thousands of uses of pesticides". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-08-24. 
  • Janofsky, M (2006-08-02). "Unions say E.P.A. bends to political pressure". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  • Alarcon WA, Calvert GM, Blondell JM, Mehler LN, Sievert J, Propeck M, Tibbetts DS, Becker A, Lackovic M, Soileau SB, Das R, Beckman J, Male DP, Thomsen CL, Stanbury M (July 2005). "Acute Illnesses Associated With Pesticide Exposure at Schools". Journal of the American Medical Association 294 (4): 455–465.  
  • World Health Organization Persistent Organic Pollutants: Impact on Child Health
Journal articles

  • Greene, Stanley A.; Pohanish, Richard P. (editors) (2005). Sittig's Handbook of Pesticides and Agricultural Chemicals. SciTech Publishing, Inc.  
  • Tomlin, Clive (editor) (2006). "The Pesticide Manual", 14th edition, 1350 pages. British Crop Protection Council (BCPC).  
  • Hamilton, Denis; Crossley, Stephen (editors) (2004). Pesticide residues in food and drinking water. J. Wiley.  
  • Hond, Frank et al. (2003). Pesticides: problems, improvements, alternatives. Blackwell Science.  
  • Kegley, Susan E.; Wise, Laura J. (1998). Pesticides in fruits and vegetables. University Science Books.  
  • Larramendy, Marcelo L.; Soloneski, Sonia [Editors](2014): Pesticides: Toxic Aspects. InTech. ISBN 978-953-51-1217-4 [Open Access Download available]
  • Levine, Marvin J. (2007). Pesticides: A Toxic Time Bomb in our Midst. Praeger Publishers.  
  • Ware, George W.; Whitacre, David M. (2004). Pesticide Book. Meister Publishing Co.  
  • Watson, David H. (editor) (2004). Pesticide, veterinary and other residues in food. Woodhead Publishing.  

Further reading

  1. ^ US Environmental (July 24, 2007), What is a pesticide? Retrieved on September 15, 2007.
  2. ^ Carolyn Randall (ed.), et al., National Pesticide Applicator Certification Core Manual (2013) National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Research Foundation, Washington, DC, Ch.1
  3. ^ Beginner's guide
  4. ^ a b Gilden RC, Huffling K, Sattler B (January 2010). "Pesticides and health risks". J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 39 (1): 103–10.  
  5. ^ a b Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2002), International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. Retrieved on 2007-10-25.
  6. ^ "". 
  7. ^ a b Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association. (1997). Educational and Informational Strategies to Reduce Pesticide Risks. Preventive Medicine, Volume 26, Number 2
  8. ^ EPA. Types of Pesticides. Last updated on Thursday, January 29th, 2009.
  9. ^ a b c d e Kamrin MA. (1997). Pesticide Profiles: toxicity, environmental impact, and fate. CRC Press.
  10. ^ Cornell University. Toxicity of pesticides. Pesticide fact sheets and tutorial, module 4. Pesticide Safety Education Program. Retrieved on 2007-10-10.
  11. ^ EurekAlert. (2009). New 'green' pesticides are first to exploit plant defenses in battle of the fungi.
  12. ^ a b c The benefits of pesticides: A story worth telling. Retrieved on September 15, 2007.
  13. ^ a b Helfrich, LA, Weigmann, DL, Hipkins, P, and Stinson, ER (June 1996), Pesticides and aquatic animals: A guide to reducing impacts on aquatic systems. Virginia Cooperative Extension. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.
  14. ^ Kellogg RL, Nehring R, Grube A, Goss DW, and Plotkin S (February 2000), Environmental indicators of pesticide leaching and runoff from farm fields. United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved on 2007-10-03.
  15. ^ Kuniuki S (2001). Effects of organic fertilization and pesticide application on growth and yield of field-grown rice for 10 years. Japanese Journal of Crop Science Volume 70, Issue 4, Pages 530-540. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  16. ^ Knutson, R. (1999). Economic Impact of Reduced Pesticide Use in the United States.Agricultural and Food Policy Center. Texas A&M University.
  17. ^ a b World Health Organization (September 15, 2006), WHO gives indoor use of DDT a clean bill of health for controlling malaria. Retrieved on September 13, 2007.
  18. ^ Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer 2007 Update
  19. ^ Ingber SZ, Buser MC, Pohl HR, Abadin HG, Murray HE, Scinicariello F (December 2013). "DDT/DDE and breast cancer: a meta-analysis". Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 67 (3): 421–33.  
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Miller GT (2004), Sustaining the Earth, 6th edition. Thompson Learning, Inc. Pacific Grove, California. Chapter 9, Pages 211-216.
  21. ^ PANNA: PAN Magazine: In Depth: DDT & Malaria
  23. ^ EPA Pesticide Industry Sales and Usage Report
  24. ^ Goldman LR (2007). "Managing pesticide chronic health risks: U.S. Policies". Journal of Agromedicine 12 (1): 67–75.  
  25. ^ "CDC - Pesticide Illness & Injury Surveillance - NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic". 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  26. ^ "Infographic: Pesticide Planet". Science 341 (6147): 730–731. 2013.  
  27. ^ "Market Study: Crop Protection (UC-2805)". June 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  28. ^ Fantke P, Friedrich R, Jolliet O (2012). "Health impact and damage cost assessment of pesticides in Europe". Environ Int 49: 9–17.  
  29. ^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (August 30, 2007), Pesticides: Health and Safety. National Assessment of the Worker Protection Workshop #3.
  30. ^ "Human Health Issues | Pesticides | US EPA". 2006-06-28. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  31. ^ Bassil KL, Vakil C, Sanborn M, Cole DC, Kaur JS, Kerr KJ (October 2007). "Cancer health effects of pesticides: Systematic review". Can Fam Physician 53 (10): 1 u704–11.  
  32. ^ Sanborn M, Kerr KJ, Sanin LH, Cole DC, Bassil KL, Vakil C (October 2007). "Non-cancer health effects of pesticides: Systematic review and implications for family doctors". Can Fam Physician 53 (10): 1712–20.  
  33. ^ Jurewicz J, Hanke W (2008). "Prenatal and childhood exposure to pesticides and neurobehavioral development: review of epidemiological studies". Int J Occup Med Environ Health 21 (2): 121–32.  
  34. ^ Weselak M, Arbuckle TE, Foster W (2007). "Pesticide exposures and developmental outcomes: the epidemiological evidence". J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev 10 (1-2): 41–80.  
  35. ^ Wigle DT, Arbuckle TE, Turner MC, et al. (May 2008). "Epidemiologic evidence of relationships between reproductive and child health outcomes and environmental chemical contaminants". J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev 11 (5-6): 373–517.  
  36. ^ Mink PJ, Mandel JS, Lundin JI, Sceurman BK (November 2011). "Epidemiologic studies of glyphosate and non-cancer health outcomes: a review". Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 61 (2): 172–84.  
  37. ^ "Pesticide exposure in children". Pediatrics 130 (6): e1757–63. December 2012.  
  38. ^ "". 
  39. ^ Jeyaratnam J (1990). "Acute pesticide poisoning: a major global health problem". World Health Stat Q 43 (3): 139–44.  
  40. ^ Gunnell D, Eddleston M, Phillips MR, Konradsen F (2007). "The global distribution of fatal pesticide self-poisoning: Systematic review". BMC Public Health 7: 357.  
  41. ^ Kalkbrenner AE, Schmidt RJ, Penlesky AC (September 2014). "Environmental Chemical Exposures and Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review of the Epidemiological Evidence". Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care.  
  42. ^ Wells, M (March 11, 2007). "Vanishing bees threaten U.S. crops". (London:  
  43. ^ Palmer, WE, Bromley, PT, and Brandenburg, RL. Wildlife & pesticides - Peanuts. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved on 2007-10-11.
  44. ^ Castro, Peter, and Michael E.Huber. Marine Biology. 8th. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 2010. Print.
  45. ^ L. Quinn, Amie. "The impacts of agriculture and temperature on the physiological stress response in fish." Uleth. University of Lethbridge, n.d. Web. 20 Nov 2012.
  46. ^ Sims, G. K. and A.M. Cupples. 1999. Factors controlling degradation of pesticides in soil. Pesticide Science 55:598-601.
  47. ^ Sims, G. K. and L.E. Sommers. 1986. Biodegradation of pyridine derivatives in soil suspensions. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 5:503-509.
  48. ^ Wolt J. D., Smith J.K., Sims J.K., Duebelbeis D.O. (1996). "Products and kinetics of cloramsulam-methyl aerobic soil metabolism". J. Agric. Food Chem 44: 324–332.  
  49. ^ a b c Pimentel, David. "Environmental and Economic Costs of the Application of Pesticides Primarily in the United States" Environment, Development and Sustainability 7 (2005): 229-252. Retrieved on February 25, 2011.
  50. ^ a b c d Cooper, Jerry and Hans Dobson. "The benefits of pesticides to mankind and the environment" Crop Protection 26 (2007): 1337-1348., Retrieved on February 25, 2011.
  51. ^ Pimentel, David, H. Acquay, M. Biltonen, P. Rice, and M. Silva. "Environmental and Economic Costs of Pesticide Use." BioScience 42.10 (1992): 750-60., [1]. Retrieved on February 25, 2011.
  52. ^ a b , Vol. 2, No. 4S, pp. 655–660, Dec. 1996.J NematologyR. McSorley and R. N. Gallaher, "Effect of Yard Waste Compost on Nematode Densities and Maize Yield",
  53. ^ (July 2007), The biological control of pests. Retrieved on September 17, 2007.
  54. ^ SP-401 Skylab, Classroom in Space: Part III - Science Demonstrations, Chapter 17: Life Sciences. Retrieved on September 17, 2007.
  55. ^ "Principles List". Retrieved 2014-05-05. 
  56. ^ a b Cook SM, Khan ZR, Pickett JA (2007). "The use of push-pull strategies in integrated pest management". Annu. Rev. Entomol. 52: 375–400.  
  57. ^ "Pesticides 101 - A primer on pesticides, their use in agriculture and the exposure we face | Pesticide Action Network". Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  58. ^ "Types of Pesticides". US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  59. ^ "Nicosulfuron". EXTOXNET. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  60. ^ EFSA September 30, 2008 EFSA Scientific Report (2008) 195, 1-115: Conclusion on the peer review of triflusulfuron
  61. ^ Lamberth C, Jeanmart S, Luksch T, Plant A (2013). "Current Challenges and Trends in the Discovery of Agrochemicals". Science 341 (6147): 742–6.  
  62. ^
  63. ^ a b c Willson, Harold R (February 23, 1996), Pesticide Regulations. University of Minnesota. Retrieved on 2007-10-15.
  64. ^ Pesticide Legislation Approved last retrieved 13 January 2009
  65. ^ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Programmes: International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. Retrieved on 2007-10-25.
  66. ^ a b Reynolds, JD (1997), International pesticide trade: Is there any hope for the effective regulation of controlled substances? Florida State University Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, Volume 131. Retrieved on 2007-10-16.
  67. ^ a b Daly H, Doyen JT, and Purcell AH III (1998), Introduction to insect biology and diversity, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press. New York, New York. Chapter 14, Pages 279-300.
  68. ^ a b c Science Daily, (October 11, 2001), Environmentally-friendly pesticide to combat potato cyst nematodes. Retrieved on September 19, 2007.
  69. ^ a b "Pesticides and Public Health | Pesticides | US EPA". Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  70. ^ "Data Requirements for Pesticide Registration". US EPA. 
  71. ^ "Protocol for Conducting Environmental Compliance Audits under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)". US EPA. 
  72. ^ "Restricted-Use Pesticides: Dealer and Applicator Records Inspections". US EPA. 
  73. ^ "Chemical Hazard Communication; U.S. Department of Labor; Occupational Safety and Health Administration". US OSHA. 
  74. ^ "Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA)". US EPA. 
  75. ^ Stephen J. Toth, Jr., "Pesticide Impact Assessment Specialist, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, "Federal Pesticide Laws and Regulations" March, 1996. Retrieved on February 25, 2011.
  76. ^ US Environmental Protection Agency (February 16, 2011), Pesticide Registration Program Retrieved on February 25, 2011.
  77. ^ "Assessing Health Risks from Pesticides". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency]"
  78. ^ Bill No. 2491, Draft 2, Council of the County of Kaua‘i
  79. ^ Rao GVR, Rupela OP, Rao VR, Reddy YVR (2007). "Role of biopesticides in crop protection: present status and future prospects" (PDF). Indian Journal of Plant Protection 35 (1): 1–9. 
  80. ^ a b Miller, GT (2002). Living in the Environment (12th Ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. ISBN 0-534-37697-5
  81. ^ a b c d Ritter SR. (2009). Pinpointing Trends In Pesticide Use In 1939. C&E News.
  82. ^ a b Goldman L.R. (2007). "Managing pesticide chronic health risks: U.S. policies". Journal of Agromedicine 12 (1): 57–75.  
  83. ^ Graeme Murphy (December 1, 2005), Resistance Management - Pesticide Rotation. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Retrieved on September 15, 2007.
  84. ^ Arnold L. Aspelin (February, 2003), PESTICIDE USAGE IN THE UNITED STATES: Trends During the 20th Century. NSF CIPM Technical Bulletin 105. Retrieved on October 28, 2010.
  85. ^ Lobe, J (Sept 16, 2006), "WHO urges DDT for malaria control Strategies," Inter Press Service, cited from Retrieved on September 15, 2007.


See also

In the 1960s, it was discovered that DDT was preventing many fish-eating birds from reproducing, which was a serious threat to malaria and other tropical diseases by spraying on interior walls to kill or repel mosquitoes.[85]

The first legislation providing federal authority for regulating pesticides was enacted in 1910;[82] however, decades later during the 1940s manufacturers began to produce large amounts of synthetic pesticides and their use became widespread.[67] Some sources consider the 1940s and 1950s to have been the start of the "pesticide era."[83] Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970 and amendments to the pesticide law in 1972,[82] pesticide use has increased 50-fold since 1950 and 2.3 million tonnes (2.5 million short tons) of industrial pesticides are now used each year.[80] Seventy-five percent of all pesticides in the world are used in developed countries, but use in developing countries is increasing.[20] A study of USA pesticide use trends through 1997 was published in 2003 by the National Science Foundation's Center for Integrated Pest Management.[81][84]

Since before 2000 BC, humans have utilized pesticides to protect their crops. The first known pesticide was elemental pyrethrin compounds have become the dominant insecticide.[81] Herbicides became common in the 1960s, led by "triazine and other nitrogen-based compounds, carboxylic acids such as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, and glyphosate".[81]


Recently Kaua'i County (Hawai'i) passed Bill No. 2491 to add an article to Chapter 22 of the county's code relating to pesticides and GMOs. The bill strengthens protections of local communities in Kaua'i where many large pesticide companies test their products.[78]

In addition, the U.S. EPA uses the National Research Council's four-step process for human health risk assessment: (1) Hazard Identification, (2) Dose-Response Assessment, (3) Exposure Assessment, and (4) Risk Characterization.[77]

The EPA regulates pesticides under two main acts, both of which amended by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. In addition to the EPA, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set standards for the level of pesticide residue that is allowed on or in crops.[75] The EPA looks at what the potential human health and environmental effects might be associated with the use of the pesticide.[76]

Some pesticides are considered too hazardous for sale to the general public and are designated restricted use pesticides. Only certified applicators, who have passed an exam, may purchase or supervise the application of restricted use pesticides.[63] Records of sales and use are required to be maintained and may be audited by government agencies charged with the enforcement of pesticide regulations.[71][72] These records must be made available to employees and state or territorial environmental regulatory agencies.[73][74]

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulating pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA).[69] Studies must be conducted to establish the conditions in which the material is safe to use and the effectiveness against the intended pest(s).[70] The EPA regulates pesticides to ensure that these products do not pose adverse effects to humans or the environment. Pesticides produced before November 1984 continue to be reassessed in order to meet the current scientific and regulatory standards. All registered pesticides are reviewed every 15 years to ensure they meet the proper standards.[69] During the registration process, a label is created. The label contains directions for proper use of the material in addition to safety restrictions. Based on acute toxicity, pesticides are assigned to a Toxicity Class.

Preparation for an application of hazardous herbicide in USA.

United States

Pesticides can be created that are targeted to a specific pest's lifecycle, which can be environmentally more friendly.[68] For example, potato cyst nematodes emerge from their protective cysts in response to a chemical excreted by potatoes; they feed on the potatoes and damage the crop.[68] A similar chemical can be applied to fields early, before the potatoes are planted, causing the nematodes to emerge early and starve in the absence of potatoes.[68]

Pesticides safety education and pesticide applicator regulation are designed to protect the public from pesticide misuse, but do not eliminate all misuse. Reducing the use of pesticides and choosing less toxic pesticides may reduce risks placed on society and the environment from pesticide use.[13] Integrated pest management, the use of multiple approaches to control pests, is becoming widespread and has been used with success in countries such as Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, the U.S., Australia, and Mexico.[20] IPM attempts to recognize the more widespread impacts of an action on an ecosystem, so that natural balances are not upset.[67] New pesticides are being developed, including biological and botanical derivatives and alternatives that are thought to reduce health and environmental risks. In addition, applicators are being encouraged to consider alternative controls and adopt methods that reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

Three other efforts to improve regulation of international pesticide trade are the United Nations London Guidelines for the Exchange of Information on Chemicals in International Trade and the United Nations Codex Alimentarius Commission. The former seeks to implement procedures for ensuring that prior informed consent exists between countries buying and selling pesticides, while the latter seeks to create uniform standards for maximum levels of pesticide residues among participating countries.[66] Both initiatives operate on a voluntary basis.[66]

[5] The FAO claims that the code has raised awareness about pesticide hazards and decreased the number of countries without restrictions on pesticide use.[65] The Code was updated in 1998 and 2002.[63] Though pesticide regulations differ from country to country, pesticides, and products on which they were used are traded across international borders. To deal with inconsistencies in regulations among countries, delegates to a conference of the United Nations

In Europe, recent EU legislation has been approved banning the use of highly toxic pesticides including those that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction, those that are endocrine-disrupting, and those that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) or very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB). Measures were approved to improve the general safety of pesticides across all EU member states.[64]

In most countries, pesticides must be approved for sale and use by a government agency.[63]



Defoliants : Cause leaves or other foliage to drop from a plant, usually to facilitate harvest.
Desiccants : Promote drying of living tissues, such as unwanted plant tops.
Insect growth regulators : Disrupt the molting, maturity from pupal stage to adult, or other life processes of insects.
Plant growth regulators : Substances (excluding fertilizers or other plant nutrients) that alter the expected growth, flowering, or reproduction rate of plants.

The term pesticide also include these substances:

Further types of pesticides

Type Action
Algicides Control algae in lakes, canals, swimming pools, water tanks, and other sites
Antifouling agents Kill or repel organisms that attach to underwater surfaces, such as boat bottoms
Antimicrobials Kill microorganisms (such as bacteria and viruses)
Attractants Attract pests (for example, to lure an insect or rodent to a trap). (However, food is not considered a pesticide when used as an attractant.)
Biopesticides Biopesticides are certain types of pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals
Biocides Kill microorganisms
Disinfectants and sanitizers Kill or inactivate disease-producing microorganisms on inanimate objects
Fungicides Kill fungi (including blights, mildews, molds, and rusts)
Fumigants Produce gas or vapor intended to destroy pests in buildings or soil
Herbicides Kill weeds and other plants that grow where they are not wanted
Insecticides Kill insects and other arthropods
Miticides Kill mites that feed on plants and animals
Microbial pesticides Microorganisms that kill, inhibit, or out compete pests, including insects or other microorganisms
Molluscicides Kill snails and slugs
Nematicides Kill nematodes (microscopic, worm-like organisms that feed on plant roots)
Ovicides Kill eggs of insects and mites
Pheromones Biochemicals used to disrupt the mating behavior of insects
Repellents Repel pests, including insects (such as mosquitoes) and birds
Rodenticides Control mice and other rodents
Pesticides that are related to the type of pests are:

Classified by type of pest

  • Biochemical pesticides are naturally occurring substances that control pests by non-toxic mechanisms. Conventional pesticides, by contrast, are, in general, synthetic materials that directly kill or inactivate the pest. Biochemical pesticides include substances, such as insect sex pheromones, that interfere with mating, as well as various scented plant extracts that attract insect pests to traps. Because it is sometimes difficult to determine whether a substance meets the criteria for classification as a biochemical pesticide, EPA has established a special committee to make such decisions.[62]
  • Plant-Incorporated-Protectants (PIPs) are pesticidal substances that plants produce from genetic material that has been added to the plant. For example, scientists can take the gene for the Bt pesticidal protein, and introduce the gene into the plant's own genetic material. Then the plant, instead of the Bt bacterium, manufactures the substance that destroys the pest. The protein and its genetic material, but not the plant itself, are regulated by EPA.

The most widely used microbial pesticides are subspecies and strains of Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. Each strain of this bacterium produces a different mix of proteins, and specifically kills one or a few related species of insect larvae. While some Bt's control moth larvae found on plants, other Bt's are specific for larvae of flies and mosquitoes. The target insect species are determined by whether the particular Bt produces a protein that can bind to a larval gut receptor, thereby causing the insect larvae to starve.

  • Microbial pesticides consist of a microorganism e.g., a bacterium, fungus, virus, or protozoan as the active ingredient. Microbial pesticides can control many different kinds of pests, although each separate active ingredient is relatively specific for its target pest. For example, there are fungi that control certain weeds, and other fungi that kill specific insects.

Biopesticides are certain types of pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals. For example, canola oil and baking soda have pesticidal applications and are considered biopesticides. At the end of 2001, there were approximately 195 registered biopesticide active ingredients and 780 products. Biopesticides fall into three major classes:


Includes nicosulfuron,[59] triflusulfuron methyl,[60] and chlorsulfuron broad-spectrum herbicides that kill plants by inhibiting the enzyme acetolactate synthase. In the 1960s, more than 1 kg/ha (0.89 lb/acre) crop protection chemical was typically applied, while sulfonylureates allow as little as 1% as much material to achieve the same effect.[61]

Sulfonylurea herbicides

They were developed as a synthetic version of the naturally occurring pesticide pyrethrin, which is found in chrysanthemums. They have been modified to increase their stability in the environment. Some synthetic pyrethroids are toxic to the nervous system.

Pyrethroid pesticides

They were commonly used in the past, but many have been removed from the market due to their health and environmental effects and their persistence (e.g., DDT and chlordane).

Organochlorine insecticides

Carbamate pesticides affect the nervous system by disrupting an enzyme that regulates acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. The enzyme effects are usually reversible. There are several subgroups within the carbamates.

Carbamate pesticides

Organophosphates affect the nervous system by disrupting the enzyme that regulates acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Most organophosphates are insecticides. They were developed during the early 19th century, but their effects on insects, which are similar to their effects on humans, were discovered in 1932. Some are very poisonous. However, they usually are not persistent in the environment.

Organophosphate pesticides

Some examples of chemically-related pesticides are:

Pesticides are often referred to according to the type of pest they control. Pesticides can also be considered as either biodegradable pesticides, which will be broken down by microbes and other living beings into harmless compounds, or persistent pesticides, which may take months or years before they are broken down: it was the persistence of DDT, for example, which led to its accumulation in the food chain and its killing of birds of prey at the top of the food chain. Another way to think about pesticides is to consider those that are chemical pesticides or are derived from a common source or production method.[58]


However, pesticide resistance is increasing. In the 1940s, U.S. farmers lost only 7% of their crops to pests. Since the 1980s, loss has increased to 13%, even though more pesticides are being used. Between 500 and 1,000 insect and weed species have developed pesticide resistance since 1945.[57]

Some evidence shows that alternatives to pesticides can be equally effective as the use of chemicals. For example, Sweden has halved its use of pesticides with hardly any reduction in crops.[20] In Indonesia, farmers have reduced pesticide use on rice fields by 65% and experienced a 15% crop increase.[20] A study of Maize fields in northern Florida found that the application of composted yard waste with high carbon to nitrogen ratio to agricultural fields was highly effective at reducing the population of plant-parasitic nematodes and increasing crop yield, with yield increases ranging from 10% to 212%; the observed effects were long-term, often not appearing until the third season of the study.[52]


Some advantages of using the push-pull method are less use of chemical or biological materials and better protection against insect habituation to this control method. Some disadvantages of the push-pull strategy is that if there is a lack of appropriate knowledge of behavioral and chemical ecology of the host-pest interactions then this method becomes unreliable. Furthermore, because the push-pull method is not a very popular method of IPM operational and registration costs are higher.

Many case studies testing the effectiveness of the push-pull approach have been done across the world. The most successful push-pull strategy was developed in Africa for subsistence farming. Another successful case study was performed on the control of Helicoverpa in cotton crops in Australia. In Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, push-pull strategies were successfully used in the controlling of Sitona lineatus in bean fields.[56]

The term "push-pull" was established in 1987 as an approach for integrated pest management (IPM). This strategy uses a mixture of behavior-modifying stimuli to manipulate the distribution and abundance of insects. "Push" means the insects are repelled or deterred away from whatever resource that is being protected. "Pull" means that certain stimuli (semiochemical stimuli, pheromones, food additives, visual stimuli, genetically altered plants, etc.) are used to attract pests to trap crops where they will be killed.[56] There are numerous different components involved in order to implement a Push-Pull Strategy in IPM.

Push pull strategy

Agroecology emphasize nutrient recycling, use of locally available and renewable resources, adaptation to local conditions, utilization of microenvironments, reliance on indigenous knowledge and yield maximization while maintaining soil productivity.[55] Agroecology also emphasizes empowering people and local communities to contribute to development, and encouraging “multi-directional” communications rather than the conventional “top-down” method.

Interfering with insects' reproduction can be accomplished by sterilizing males of the target species and releasing them, so that they mate with females but do not produce offspring.[20] This technique was first used on the screwworm fly in 1958 and has since been used with the medfly, the tsetse fly,[53] and the gypsy moth.[54] However, this can be a costly, time consuming approach that only works on some types of insects.[20]

Release of other organisms that fight the pest is another example of an alternative to pesticide use. These organisms can include natural predators or parasites of the pests.[20] Biological pesticides based on entomopathogenic fungi, bacteria and viruses cause disease in the pest species can also be used.[20]

Cultivation practices include polyculture (growing multiple types of plants), crop rotation, planting crops in areas where the pests that damage them do not live, timing planting according to when pests will be least problematic, and use of trap crops that attract pests away from the real crop.[20] In the U.S., farmers have had success controlling insects by spraying with hot water at a cost that is about the same as pesticide spraying.[20]

Alternatives to pesticides are available and include methods of cultivation, use of biological pest controls (such as pheromones and microbial pesticides), genetic engineering, and methods of interfering with insect breeding.[20] Application of composted yard waste has also been used as a way of controlling pests.[52] These methods are becoming increasingly popular and often are safer than traditional chemical pesticides. In addition, EPA is registering reduced-risk conventional pesticides in increasing numbers.


Every dollar ($1) that is spent on pesticides for crops yields four dollars ($4) in crops saved.[51] This means based that, on the amount of money spent per year on pesticides, $10 billion, there is an additional $40 billion savings in crop that would be lost due to damage by insects and weeds. In general, farmers benefit from having an increase in crop yield and from being able to grow a variety of crops throughout the year. Consumers of agricultural products also benefit from being able to afford the vast quantities of produce available year-round.[50] The general public also benefits from the use of pesticides for the control of insect-borne diseases and illnesses, such as malaria.[50] The use of pesticides creates a large job market, which provides jobs for all of the people working within the industry.


  • Drivers view unobstructed
  • Tree/brush/leaf hazards prevented
  • Wooden structures protected [50]

3. Controlling organisms that harm other human activities and structures

  • Human lives saved and suffering reduced
  • Animal lives saved and suffering reduced
  • Diseases contained geographically

2. Controlling human/livestock disease vectors and nuisance organisms

  • Improved crop/livestock yields
  • Improved crop/livestock quality
  • Invasive species controlled

1. Controlling pests and plant disease vectors

Primary benefits

There are two levels of benefits for pesticide use, primary and secondary. Primary benefits are direct gains from the use of pesticides and secondary benefits are effects that are more long-term.[50]


Additional costs include the registration process and the cost of purchasing pesticides. The registration process can take several years to complete (there are 70 different types of field test) and can cost $50–70 million for a single pesticide.[49] Annually the United States spends $10 billion on pesticides.[49]

Human health and environmental cost from pesticides in the United States is estimated at $9.6 billion offset by about $40 billion in increased agricultural production:[49]

Harm Annual US Cost
Public Health $1.1 billion
Pesticide Resistance in Pest $1.5 billion
Crop Losses Caused by Pesticides $1.4 billion
Bird Losses due to Pesticides $2.2 billion
Groundwater Contamination $2.0 billion
Other Costs $1.4 billion
Total Costs $9.6 billion


In order to reduce negative impacts, it is desirable that pesticides be degradable or at least quickly deactivated in the environment. Such loss of activity or toxicity of pesticides is due to both innate chemical properties of the compounds and environmental processes or conditions.[46] For example, the presence of halogens within a chemical structure often slows down degradation in an aerobic environment.[47] Adsorption to soil may retard pesticide movement, but also may reduce bioavailability to microbial degraders.[48]

Since chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides Biological magnification is the process whereby these chlorinated hydrocarbons (pesticides) are more concentrated at each level of the food chain. Among marine animals, pesticide concentrations are higher in carnivorous fishes, and even more so in the fish-eating birds and mammals at the top of the ecological pyramid.[44] Global distillation is the process whereby pesticides are transported from warmer to colder regions of the Earth, in particular the Poles and mountain tops. Pesticides that evaporate into the atmosphere at relatively high temperature can be carried considerable distances (thousands of kilometers) by the wind to an area of lower temperature, where they condense and are carried back to the ground in rain or snow.[45]

In addition, pesticide use reduces biodiversity, contributes to pollinator decline,[42] destroys habitat (especially for birds),[43] and threatens endangered species.[20]
Pests can develop a resistance to the pesticide (pesticide resistance), necessitating a new pesticide. Alternatively a greater dose of the pesticide can be used to counteract the resistance, although this will cause a worsening of the ambient pollution problem.

Pesticide use raises a number of environmental concerns. Over 98% of sprayed insecticides and 95% of herbicides reach a destination other than their target species, including non-target species, air, water and soil.[20] soil contamination.

Environmental effect

A 2014 epidemiological review found associations between autism and exposure to certain pesticides, but noted that the available evidence was insufficient to conclude that the relationship was causal.[41]

One study found pesticide self-poisoning the method of choice in one third of suicides worldwide, and recommended, among other things, more restrictions on the types of pesticides that are most harmful to humans.[40]

The World Health Organization and the UN Environment Programme estimate that each year, 3 million workers in agriculture in the developing world experience severe poisoning from pesticides, about 18,000 of whom die.[20] Owing to inadequate regulation and safety precautions, 99% of pesticide related deaths occur in developing countries that account for only 25% of pesticide usage.[38] According to one study, as many as 25 million workers in developing countries may suffer mild pesticide poisoning yearly.[39]

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting exposure of children to pesticides and using safer alternatives:[37]

Pesticides may cause acute and delayed health effects in people who are exposed.[29] Pesticide exposure can cause a variety of adverse health effects, ranging from simple irritation of the skin and eyes to more severe effects such as affecting the nervous system, mimicking hormones causing reproductive problems, and also causing cancer.[30] A 2007 systematic review found that "most studies on non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia showed positive associations with pesticide exposure" and thus concluded that cosmetic use of pesticides should be decreased.[31] Limited evidence also exists for other negative outcomes from pesticide exposure including neurological, birth defects, fetal death,[32] and neurodevelopmental disorder.[33][34][35][36]

A sign warning about potential pesticide exposure.

Health effects

On the cost side of pesticide use there can be costs to the environment, costs to human health,[28] as well as costs of the development and research of new pesticides.


For the global market of crop protection products, market analysts forecast revenues of over 52 billion US$ in 2019.[27]

The US used some 2.2 pounds per hactare of arable land compared with 10.3 in China, 3.0 in the UK, .2 in Cameroun, 13.1 in Japan and 5.6 in Italy. Insecticide use in the US has declined by more than half since 1980, (.6%/yr) mostly due to the near phase-out of organophosphates. In corn fields, the decline was even steeper, due to the switchover to transgenic Bt corn.[26]

In 2006 and 2007, the world used approximately 5.2 billion pounds of pesticides, with herbicides constituting the biggest part of the world pesticide use at 40%, followed by insecticides (17%) and fungicides (10%). In 2006 and 2007 the U.S. used approximately 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides, accounting for 22% of the world total, including 857 million pounds of conventional pesticides, which are used in the agricultural sector (80% of conventional pesticide use) as well as the industrial, commercial, governmental and home & garden sectors.Pesticides are also found in majority of U.S. households with 78 million out of the 105.5 million households indicating that they use some form of pesticide.[23] As of 2007, there were more than 1,055 active ingredients registered as pesticides,[24] which yield over 20,000 pesticide products that are marketed in the United States.[25]

Amounts used

malaria, bubonic plague, sleeping sickness, and typhus.[20] However, DDT use is not always effective, as resistance to DDT was identified in Africa as early as 1955, and by 1972 nineteen species of mosquito worldwide were resistant to DDT.[21] [22]

Pesticides can save farmers' money by preventing crop losses to insects and other pests; in the U.S., farmers get an estimated fourfold return on money they spend on pesticides.[14] One study found that not using pesticides reduced crop yields by about 10%.[15] Another study, conducted in 1999, found that a ban on pesticides in the United States may result in a rise of food prices, loss of jobs, and an increase in world hunger.[16]

Pesticides are used to control organisms that are considered to be harmful.[12] For example, they are used to kill mosquitoes that can transmit potentially deadly diseases like West Nile virus, yellow fever, and malaria. They can also kill bees, wasps or ants that can cause allergic reactions. Insecticides can protect animals from illnesses that can be caused by parasites such as fleas.[12] Pesticides can prevent sickness in humans that could be caused by moldy food or diseased produce. Herbicides can be used to clear roadside weeds, trees and brush. They can also kill invasive weeds that may cause environmental damage. Herbicides are commonly applied in ponds and lakes to control algae and plants such as water grasses that can interfere with activities like swimming and fishing and cause the water to look or smell unpleasant.[13] Uncontrolled pests such as termites and mould can damage structures such as houses.[12] Pesticides are used in grocery stores and food storage facilities to manage rodents and insects that infest food such as grain. Each use of a pesticide carries some associated risk. Proper pesticide use decreases these associated risks to a level deemed acceptable by pesticide regulatory agencies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Canada.


In 2009, the development of a new class of fungicides called paldoxins was announced. These work by taking advantage of natural defense chemicals released by plants called phytoalexins, which fungi then detoxify using enzymes. The paldoxins inhibit the fungi's detoxification enzymes. They are believed to be safer and greener.[11]

Pesticides can be classified based upon their biological mechanism function or application method. Most pesticides work by poisoning pests.[10] A systemic pesticide moves inside a plant following absorption by the plant. With insecticides and most fungicides, this movement is usually upward (through the xylem) and outward. Increased efficiency may be a result. Systemic insecticides, which poison pollen and nectar in the flowers, may kill bees and other needed pollinators.

. glyphosate Many commonly used pesticides are not included in these families, including :335[9] Triazines interfere with photosynthesis.:300[9]). Phenoxy compounds tend to selectively kill broad-leaf weeds rather than grasses. The phenoxy and benzoic acid herbicides function similar to plant growth hormones, and grow cells without normal cell division, crushing the plant's nutrient transport system.alachlor), and Chloroacetanilides (e.g., diuron), ureas (e.g., atrazine), triazines (e.g., 2,4-D Thiocarbamate and dithiocarbamates are subclasses of carbamates. Prominent families of herbicides include phenoxy and benzoic acid herbicides (e.g. :136–137[9] Many pesticides can be grouped into chemical families. Prominent insecticide families include

Pesticides can be classified by target biological (biopesticide),[7] although the distinction can sometimes blur), and physical state (e.g. gaseous (fumigant)).[7] Biopesticides include microbial pesticides and biochemical pesticides.[8] Plant-derived pesticides, or "botanicals", have been developing quickly. These include the pyrethroids, rotenoids, nicotinoids, and a fourth group that includes strychnine and scilliroside.[9]:15

Type of pesticide Target pest group
Herbicides Plant
Algicides or Algaecides Algae
Avicides Birds
Bactericides Bacteria
Fungicides Fungi and Oomycetes
Insecticides Insects
Miticides or Acaricides Mites
Molluscicides Snails
Nematicides Nematodes
Rodenticides Rodents
Virucides Viruses
any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, or controlling any pest, including vectors of human or animal disease, unwanted species of plants or animals, causing harm during or otherwise interfering with the production, processing, storage, transport, or marketing of food, agricultural commodities, wood and wood products or animal feedstuffs, or substances that may be administered to animals for the control of insects, arachnids, or other pests in or on their bodies. The term includes substances intended for use as a plant growth regulator, defoliant, desiccant, or agent for thinning fruit or preventing the premature fall of fruit. Also used as substances applied to crops either before or after harvest to protect the commodity from deterioration during storage and transport.[5]

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has defined pesticide as:



  • Definition 1
  • Uses 2
  • Amounts used 3
  • Costs 4
    • Health effects 4.1
    • Environmental effect 4.2
    • Economics 4.3
  • Benefits 5
    • Primary benefits 5.1
    • Monetary 5.2
  • Alternatives 6
    • Push pull strategy 6.1
    • Effectiveness 6.2
  • Types 7
    • Organophosphate pesticides 7.1
    • Carbamate pesticides 7.2
    • Organochlorine insecticides 7.3
    • Pyrethroid pesticides 7.4
    • Sulfonylurea herbicides 7.5
    • Biopesticides 7.6
    • Classified by type of pest 7.7
    • Further types of pesticides 7.8
  • Regulation 8
    • International 8.1
    • United States 8.2
  • History 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13


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