A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances including insecticide, herbicide, fungicide, and various other substances schemed for preventing, destroying, repelling, or diminishing any pest. In all over the world, 500 compounds presently are registered as pesticides or metabolites of pesticides. The grouping of pesticides is based on the formulations and chemical structure of pesticides.
Pesticides mostly enter the soil and other parts of ecosystem because of certain properties i) high solubility in water ii) retention in porous structures iii) high solubility at neutral pH. Because of these properties they mostly accumulate in fruits and vegetables.
Organophosphate (OP) is a group of insecticides, maximum use in Pakistan and used to describe any organic phosphorous containing compound dealing with neurotoxic compounds. Organophosphate contains C-P bonds. OPs degrade rapidly by hydrolysis on exposure to sunlight, air and soil, and a small amount can be detected in food and drinking water. OPs (organophosphates) degrade faster.
OPs poisoning is a global health problem with over 250,000 deaths per year are reported. OPs generally are used for the control of vector born diseases on fruits and vegetables. Its application has made possible for society to enjoy a wide range of food in large quantities with low costs but it is responsible for undesirable chronic health effects on adults and developmental effects in children and adults.
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has banned the use of organophosphate but they are still being sprayed agriculturally on fruits and vegetables. People mainly get exposure through different ways i) feeding of pesticides contaminated diet ii) intake of polluted water iii) through breathing in contaminated air. Major reason of contamination is that human diet is more contaminated with pesticides as compared to water.
At relatively low levels, OPs may be most hazardous to the brain development of fetuses and young children. Mild poisoning causes chest tightness, headache and weakness. In moderate poisoning cases, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and muscle twitching. In severe poisoning, brain leads to anxiety, impaired memory, restlessness and coma. OPs have a significant impact on human reproductive system. Workers who apply and mix pesticides are at a greater risk. Acute and chronic exposure occurs through spillage and environmental contamination of clothing. Fruits and vegetables including grapes, peaches, apples, pears and green beans are the food most commonly contaminated with OPs.
Exposure to OPs is ubiquitous. This leads to excess weight gain and prediabetes and worse condition occurrence by taking high fat diet. Pesticide exposure contributes to increase obesity and diabetes worldwide. OPs are neurotoxicants but directly or indirectly several vital organs are affected and they produce toxicological effects on central nervous system, pheripheral nervous system, cardiovascular, immunological, reproductive, placental and other body system. These also cause neurodegeneration, oxidative stress, endocrine disruption and many other complications.
According to EPA, organophospahte is one of the most hazardous pesticides and it is carcinogenic and harmful to various vital organs of human so it should be banned or be allowed within restrictions to protect human health and environment.