In our modern world, pesticides make a significant contribution to the elimination of disease, the production of adequate food supplies, and the protection of our homes from damaging insects, for a world population that is continuing to grow. People come into contact with a variety of pesticides from their homes and garden, their pets, their communities, and the food they eat which may be thoroughly contaminated, and through their workplaces. There is an accumulative problem of being exposed to a variety of pesticides in different concentrations over sustained periods of time. Special populations at risk include infants, children, and pregnant women, who have some level of problems with all pesticides and major concerns with others since the chemicals can breach the placenta and enter the fetal blood supply and brain. Also, small children crawl around the floor and may be exposed to chemicals after treatment of cracks and crevices. The elderly and infirm may have a more serious reaction to the chemicals than younger people, as may individuals taking a variety of prescription medications.

Problems with pesticides relate to: the chemical selected, with its ingredients including contaminants; its level of toxicity for non-target plants or animals including people; its level of retention in the environment, especially in the soil, food, water, and air; and the unintended consequences related to its use. The chemicals may be short-term or long-term toxins, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, etc. Organophosphates and carbamates affect the nervous system, while others may affect the skin, eyes, hormones, or various organs within the body. Occupational and casual exposure to the pesticides by people may lead to acute and chronic disease and/or injury. Other problems include appropriate storage and disposal of the chemicals.

Antimicrobial pesticides which are used to disinfect, sanitize, or reduce or inhibit the growth or development of microorganisms may also cause significant chemical exposure problems for people. These pesticides are frequently used on floors and walls as well as other surfaces in water containers such as cooling towers to prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae, etc. They also are used to preserve paints, metalworking fluids, wood supports, etc.

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