Exposure to pesticides can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, damage the central nervous system and kidneys, and increase the risk of cancer. Symptoms due to pesticide exposure may include headache, dizziness, muscle weakness, and nausea. Most household insect sprays contain plant-based chemicals called pyrethrins. These chemicals were originally isolated from chrysanthemum flowers and are generally not harmful.
However, they can cause life-threatening respiratory problems if inhaled. Oral exposure can cause serious illness, serious injury, or even death if a pesticide is ingested. Pesticides can be ingested by accident, carelessness, or intentionally. Many insecticides can cause poisoning after swallowing, inhaling, or absorbing them through the skin.
Some insecticides are odorless, so the person doesn't know they are exposed to them. Organophosphorus and carbamate insecticides cause certain nerves to “activate erratically, causing many organs to become hyperactive and eventually stop working. Occasionally, pyrethrins can cause allergic reactions. If the pesticide splashes on the skin, soak the area with water and remove contaminated clothing.
Wash your skin and hair thoroughly with soap and water. Later, dispose of contaminated clothing or wash them well separately from other clothes. Applying a pesticide with high-pressure, ultra-low-volume, or fogging equipment can increase the danger because the droplets are smaller and can be transported in the air for considerable distances. If the pesticide has been swallowed, empty the stomach as soon as possible by administering ipecacuana and water to the conscious patient or by inserting a finger in the throat.
Poison control centers are better able to collect data on pesticide exposures that occur in residential settings; occupational exposures are not as well covered. Anyone who may be exposed to pesticides should be aware of the signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning. The label of a pesticide product will have one of three signal words that clearly indicate the degree of toxicity associated with that product (Table I). Remove contaminated clothing immediately, and then bathe and shampoo the person vigorously with soap and water to remove the pesticide from the skin and hair.
Although rare, it's important to note that pesticides may have the ability to cause life-threatening allergic reactions in some people. Table 2 shows typical precautionary tips used on pesticide labels to describe both allergic and acute effects. For example, several disinfectants rank in the top ten, partly because they are found much more frequently in the home and work than other pesticides. While most of these pesticides can be used with relatively low risk (as long as label instructions are followed), some are extremely toxic and require special precautions.
Eye PesticidesIt is important to wash your eye as quickly and gently as possible; some pesticides can cause damage on contact. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their doctors before working with pesticides, as some pesticides can be harmful to the fetus (unborn baby) or breastfed babies. Allergic effectsSome people develop a reaction after being exposed to a certain pesticide, a process known as sensitization. It is important to install an eyewash station in the area where the pesticides will be mixed, or at least have easy access to an eyewash bottle in the first aid kit.
No matter how toxic a pesticide is, if the amount of exposure is kept low, the risk can be kept at an acceptably low level. Health care providers generally receive a limited amount of training in occupational and environmental health, especially in pesticide-related diseases. .