Exposure to highly hazardous pesticides a major public health concern

Kolkata, Jan 6: Highly hazardous pesticides may have acute or chronic toxic effects and pose particular risk to children.

Their widespread use has caused health problems and fatalities in many parts of the world, often as a result of occupational exposure and accidental or intentional poisonings.

Environmental contamination can also result in human exposure through consumption of residues of pesticides in food and, possibly, drinking-water. Although developed countries have sophisticated systems already in place to register pesticides and control their trade and use, this is not always the case elsewhere.

Guidance and legal frameworks on the use, management and trade of pesticides—including highly hazardous pesticides—as well as proper storage and handling are available from international organizations and international conventions; these should be implemented globally.

Pesticides are used in agriculture, horticulture and public health for the control of pests such as insects and rodents, disease organisms and disease vectors. They are biologically active compounds designed to kill target organisms. They are also used in veterinary and human medicine to control parasites. Some older pesticides are both persistent and bioaccumulative.

Highly hazardous pesticides are defined by the FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Management as having one or more of the following characteristics: acute toxicity (classes Ia and Ib of the World Health Organization (WHO) Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard); carcinogenicity; mutagenicity; reproductive toxicity; listing under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Pesticides and Industrial Chemicals in International Trade or the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; or evidence of severe or irreversible adverse effects on human health.

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