Pesticides and herbicides are beneficial as they help control weeds and pests and improve crop yield. However, some pesticides and herbicides are highly toxic, making them unsafe for the environment, humans and animals.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for registering pesticides and establishing tolerances for pesticide residue in food guided by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Unfortunately, the EPA has not been as aggressive as regulatory bodies in other nations, making the U.S. lag behind in banning pesticides and herbicides that have already been prohibited elsewhere. Hundreds of harmful pesticides are still in use in the country, despite having been banned in the European Union, Canada, China, the United Kingdom and other nations.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), using highly hazardous pesticides poses a huge health risk, especially to agricultural workers and their families, spray operators, and bystanders when the pesticides are being sprayed. Exposure which may happen through inhalation, skin or eye contact, or ingesting contaminated water and food increases the risk of cancer and other long-term health issues.
Below is a list of pesticides and herbicides banned in other countries and regions but still used in the U.S.
Phorate is an insecticide used on potatoes, cotton, wheat, corn, beans, sugarcane, sorghum and other crops to control insects such as nematodes, white flies, grasshoppers, mites, white grubs, corn leaf aphids, wireworms, leafminers and corn rootworm, among others. According to data, the U.S. uses an estimated 500,000 pounds of phorate annually.
Phorate is extremely hazardous and has been banned in Brazil, China, European Union, India, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Turkey, among others. Some common symptoms of exposure to phorate include dizziness, blurred vision, diarrhea, low blood pressure, seizures, dyspnea and abdominal pain.
Paraquat is a fast-acting and highly poisonous herbicide used in weed and grass control. It’s used in the production of many crops, including potatoes, cotton, soybeans, sugarcane, etc. Due to its high toxicity, paraquat has restricted usage in the country, and only licensed applicators can use it. However, despite the restrictions, 11 million pounds of the herbicide are used annually across the country.
As a result of its fast-acting properties, paraquat causes direct damage upon contact with the lining of the mouth, stomach and small intestines. Ingestion also causes chemical reactions throughout the body, especially in the lungs, liver and kidneys. This can lead to health complications such as heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, seizures, coma and lung scarring. Paraquat exposure has also been linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease.
While China, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have already banned paraquat, it’s still allowed in the United States. However, there have been small breakthroughs recently, like the recent requests for voluntary deregistration of products containing paraquat submitted to the EPA.
Atrazine is a heavily-used herbicide in the U.S., with an estimated annual usage of 73 million pounds. The herbicide is used in the selective control of grasses and broadleaf weeds by inhibiting their photosynthesis. It’s mostly used in corn, sugarcane, sorghum, wheat, turf and macadamia nut production.
Upon application, the chemicals may enter the air, be washed downstream through runoff or penetrate the deep soil and seep into the groundwater. Ingestion of the herbicide causes endocrine disruption, interfering with normal hormonal activity. Other health risks of atrazine include cancer, reproductive issues, nervous and immune system disruption, and liver, kidney and heart damage.
While there are calls to stop the usage of atrazine, the herbicide is still being used across the country, unlike in other countries and regions that have already banned it, such as the European Union, the United Kingdom and Turkey.
Terbufos is an insecticide and nematicide belonging to the organophosphates class. It’s used to control corn rootworms, nematodes, white grubs, beet flies, wireworms, beetles and other pests that attack crops such as corn, sorghum, sugar beets, potatoes, groundnuts, bananas, beans and coffee. The U.S. uses an estimated 383,000 pounds of terbufos annually.
Terbufos is an extremely hazardous pesticide that can cause death due to acute cholinergic crisis (ACC), a condition that results from overstimulation of the nicotinic and muscarinic receptors. The pesticide enters the body through ingestion, skin contact or inhalation, leading to other health problems such as lung cancer, respiratory paralysis, leukemia, and increased aggression of cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Despite the risks terbufos predispose the population to, it’s still widely used across the country. However, other countries and regions, such as the European Union, China, the United Kingdom and Canada, have long banned the pesticide.
Aldicarb is a toxic insecticide used to control crop pests such as aphids, leafminers, spider mites and fleahoppers, mainly in the production of cotton, beans, potatoes and citrus fruits. Though classified as extremely hazardous, 75,000 pounds of the pesticide are still used in the United States annually.
Complications for aldicarb ingestion include nausea, blurred vision, tremors and weakness, while high doses can paralyze the respiratory system causing fatality.
A 2010 registration cancellation had seen the discontinuation of the pesticide, but it has since been reintroduced into the market. This is despite the continuing ban in more than 100 countries, including China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan and the European Union. Countries such as Canada and Israel have also filed a ‘No Consent to Import’ the pesticide.
Chlorethoxyfos is an insecticide (belonging to the organophosphate class) used to control pests such as corn rootworms, white grubs, wireworms, cutworms and seed corn maggots. It’s mainly used in the production of corn (field corn, sweet corn, seed corn) and popcorn.
The pesticide is extremely hazardous. Exposure (can happen through skin contact, ingestion or inhalation) may cause health complications such as abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle twitching, convulsions, breathing difficulties, sweating, blurred vision and neurodevelopmental harm.
Though chlorethoxyfos is not approved for use in the European Union and the United Kingdom, it’s allowed in the United States, with an estimated 19,000 pounds being used annually. However, there has been mounting pressure to ban organophosphate pesticides, including chlorethoxyfos. EPA has since received petitions to revoke tolerances and cancel registrations of chlorethoxyfos and other named organophosphates in food production.
Ethoprophos is an insecticide and nematicide used to control nematodes, wireworms and other soil-dwelling insects. It’s mainly used in the production of crops such as sugarcane, bananas, potatoes, nuts, fruits, and ornamental plants.
Being an organophosphate, exposure to ethoprophos can lead to health complications such as muscle twitching, convulsions, sweating, dizziness, headache, coma, blurred vision and sweating, with extreme exposure capable of being fatal.
Despite the dangers, 138,000 pounds of the insecticide are still used across the country. However, other nations, including China, the United Kingdom and the European Union, have already banned ethoprophos.
Methomyl is an extremely toxic insecticide to humans, animals, and the environment. It’s used to control nematodes and foliar insects, such as spiders, in the production of vegetables, apples, oranges, cotton, tobacco, turf, and ornamental plants. The use of methomyl in the United States is still high, with 636,000 pounds of the insecticide being applied annually.
Exposure to methomyl can happen through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. The first two exposure routes (ingestion and inhalation) are the most toxic, while skin contact causes the least toxicity. Some health complications from methomyl poisoning include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, chest tightness and blurry vision.
While the U.S. has not prohibited the use of methomyl yet, other nations, including China, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and the European Union, have banned it.
Propanil is a herbicide widely used to control grasses and broadleaf weeds in the production of crops such as potatoes, rice, and wheat. The herbicide is moderately hazardous, hence banned in many countries, including the United Kingdom and the European Union.
The United States still approves the use of propanil with an estimated 5 million pounds annual usage. However, exposure to the herbicide through skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion has been found to cause health complications such as burning sensation, vomiting, drowsiness, nausea and confusion. Short-term exposure may also affect blood and the nervous system.
Acephate is a potentially carcinogenic organophosphate insecticide used to control pests such as aphids, spider mites, leaf miners, caterpillars, ants and sawflies. It’s applied in the production of vegetables, beans, citrus trees, tobacco, ornamental plants and turf.
There’s widespread usage of acephate across the United States, with an estimated 4 million pounds applied annually. However, exposure to the insecticide, which can occur through skin contact, inhalation or ingestion, is hazardous and can cause symptoms such as sweating, dizziness, nausea, shaking and confusion.
Acephate is harmful to humans, pets and birds, and nations such as China, the United Kingdom and the European Union have long banned its use.
The Implication Of Exposure To Hazardous Pesticides & Herbicides
If you have been exposed to hazardous pesticides and herbicides, leading to health complications, you have a right to seek compensation even if EPA has not placed a ban or restriction on them yet. You can hold the product manufacturer liable for your injuries and get compensation for your damages. If you believe your health condition is due to pesticide or herbicide exposure, contact a hazardous exposure lawyer at Nadrich & Cohen today to learn your legal options.