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Pesticide Poisonings: Perspective is Reality Cecil Tharp MSU Pesticide Education Specialist "It is not my contention that chemicals never be used. I do.

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Presentation on theme: "Pesticide Poisonings: Perspective is Reality Cecil Tharp MSU Pesticide Education Specialist "It is not my contention that chemicals never be used. I do."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pesticide Poisonings: Perspective is Reality Cecil Tharp MSU Pesticide Education Specialist "It is not my contention that chemicals never be used. I do contend that we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals in the hands of persons largely or wholly ignorant of their potential harm" (Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1964)

2 Pesticide Poisoning is common in Montana.  31% of private applicators surveyed have been at least mildly poisoned by exposure to pesticides. Always minimize bad habits while wearing recommended PPE to minimize exposure.

3 Are Montana applicators protecting themselves from Pesticides?

4 Why are they not protecting themselves? ‘practical reasons’

5 Applicators Focus on Acute Toxicity  Toxicity which occurs within seconds, minutes or hours.  Applicators focus on acute toxicity and corresponding signal words..

6 Signal Words / LD50  Caution (Category IV)  You can drink the stuff Table 2. Signal words found on pesticide labels.

7 Does ‘Caution’ indicate PPE is not needed?  Often disregarding PPE statements on pesticides which show low acute toxicity

8 Signal Word


10 Bad Habits also lead to Pesticide Poisoning  1/5 applicators surveyed smoked or chewed during application of pesticides in Montana. Chewing and smoking while applying pesticides increases exposure to pesticides and may result in pesticide poisoning.

11 Bad Habits also lead to Pesticide Poisoning  Alarmingly, 25% of applicators surveyed ingested food while applying pesticides without washing hands prior! This increases exposure dramatically and may be extremely dangerous. This may lead to acute or chronic pesticide poisoning.

12 More bad habits….  70% of all applicators surveyed removed gloves at some point in their career while repairing spray equipment.  9% never wore gloves to begin with.

13 Montana Poisonings: Why?  Bad Habits –Eating while applying pesticides (25%) –Chewing and smoking while applying pesticides (20%)  Shortcuts –Not wearing proper PPE (58%) –Taking gloves off (79% of applicators)  Recurring focus on only Acute Toxicity MSU PEP is trying to remind applicators to focus on just letting history be our guide!

14 Pesticide Poisonings: When did this begin?  A pesticide poisoning occurs when chemicals intended to control a pest affect non-target organisms such as humans, wildlife, or bees. pestbeespestbees  Arsenic has been around for 1,000’s of years. Evidence supports it’s discovery as far back as ancient Egypt.  Tubocurarine has been found in primitive weapons of primitive man (>5,000 years old).

15 Perspective #1: 1939 – 1965 (What does not kill you makes you stronger!)  Silverbullet Pesticide –1939 Swiss Chemist Synthesized DDT  Paul Humen Muller

16 DDT had non-target effects

17 Good Side of DDT? -All but halted a 25% mortality rate in soldiers fighting in war from TYPHUS with a de-lousing program. -Saved millions of lives from malaria.

18 Perspective #2: 1965 – 1984 (Beware of who you trust, always be on the safe side!)  Agent White Compound  Agent Orange 4:1 mixture of 2,4-D and picloram 1:1 mixture of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T Produces dioxins – carcinogen The National Toxicology Program has classified TCDD to be a human carcinogen, frequently associated withcarcinogen soft-tissue sarcomasoft-tissue sarcoma, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma,Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma Hodgkin's diseaseHodgkin's disease and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).chronic lymphocytic leukemia 1896 – 1985!

19 Chronic Toxicity  Long Term Exposure –Many repeated low dose exposures  Definition  EPA mandates testing for chronic toxicity of: –Active ingredients only  Usually on rats  This is very expensive  Chronic toxicity statements are placed on the product label (carcinogen, mutagen, reproductive damage, etc..)

20 1970’s - 1990’s: Perspective 3 Organophosphate and carbamate Era  Hit a climax in December 1984

21 Bhopal, India Disaster  Methyl isocyanate was an intermediate chemical when producing the product Sevin  Pesticide cloud which covered 25 square miles. covered 25 square miles.


23 Toxicity  Union Carbide Pesticide Manufacturing Plant  December 3 rd, 1984  8,000 initial dead  15,000 more within 10 years  500,000 suffer injuries  water wells near the site show overall chemical contamination to be 500 times higher than the maximum limits recommended by the World Health Organization.  cancer, genetic defects (birth defects), and liver and kidney damage.





28 27% of Montana applicators indicated they did not clean up all pesticide spills during their spray career.

29 Perspective #4: Delisting of many pesticide products from the 1990’s to present day.  Many of our current pesticide products have low acute toxicity.  Have we learned from our mistakes.

30 Some of our “Safest” chemicals  Chronic Affects Evident –Immune system problems –Sores, Rashes

31 It happens.


33 Prostate Cancer Associated With  Methyl bromide fumigant  Chlorinated pesticides (men over 50) –Aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, hexachlor, toxophene  Five pesticides with men with a family history of prostate cancer –Insecticides: chlorpyrifos (Lorsban), coumaphos (Co-Ral), fonofos (Dyfonate), permethrin (with (Co-Ral), fonofos (Dyfonate), permethrin (with animal uses) animal uses)

34 Respiratory Health  Wheeze (airways in lungs are narrowed) associated with… –Pesticides (Paraquat, parathion, malathion, chlorpyrifos, atrazine, alachlor, EPTC)

35 Parkinsons Disease and Pesticide Use  Applicators have up to twice the risk of Parkinsons Disease –Used pesticides more than 400 days in their lifetime. –Strongly associated with paraquat use. paraquat use.

36 Personal Protective Equip. (PPE)  Good News: –Research shows PPE may reduce pesticide exposure by 90%  Bad News: –Fabric or leather gloves usage

37 Are applicators protecting others from pesticides?

38 Reading the product label can help you! *It can minimize risk towards yourself or your family.

39 Pesticide Poisoning Summary  Acute Poisonings are still a problem –Utah: 2 girls died in 2010 –Texas: 1 girl dies in 2007 –South Dakota: 1 girl died in 2000  Chronic Poisonings are common –High dose event early in ones life –Low dose exposures over time: no PPE –Improper storage of pesticides –Immune system susceptibility a problem –Genetic factors evident

40 Pesticide Use  Is Ok  Read and Follow the Pesticide Product Label –Wear PPE –Don’t drink it!

41 Contact Information Contact your Local Extension Office or the MSU Pesticide Safety Education Program Cecil Tharp, Pesticide Education Specialist 406-994-5067 Web Address:

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