Everyone has heard about pesticides. But what exactly are they? Why are they used? Can we escape from them?
Pesticides are compounds used in agriculture to protect crops against pests. The agricultural industry strives to obtain raw materials more efficiently, thus the use of compounds supporting growth and lack of competitiveness for a given species are introduced. Their durability in the environment varies from a few weeks up to 30 years, they can still be detected in the environment after such long period! How dangerous these substances are is illustrated by many scientific studies showing the relationship between exposure to pesticides and the incidence of certain disease entities, for example cancers. What’s alarming, the amount of pesticides used in the world is still growing!
Different countries set their own standards for the content of these substances, the so-called pesticide residues in post-crop products. These norms may increase, despite controversial reports about their negative impact on the human body.
Some pesticides are fat-soluble and therefore have the capacity to accumulate in the human body. They act negatively on the central nervous system, can lead to anxiety, can also lead to hormonal disorders. Unfortunately, we are exposed to pesticides almost all the time, their trace amounts can often be detected in the blood of people not directly infected. Interestingly, they also occur on cash register printouts, so cashiers are at high risk of being poisoned with pesticides. Traces of pesticides have also been detected in breast milk, it is shocking that children are exposed to pesticides from the very first days of life, which adversely affects their developing organism. Excessive exposure during fetal life may lead to delayed cognitive functions, congenital defects in the child. Low, but permanent exposure to these substances can also lead to fatty liver, toxic damage as well as kidney damage.
The effects of pesticides are also not neutral for the environment. The applied pesticides penetrate deep into the soil, and then into ground or surface waters. Among other things, under the influence of herbicides, the population of wild bees decreases. They die as a result of poisoning with these compounds, or by transferring the toxin to the hive, it exposes the remaining insects to this pesticide.
So how can you fight pesticides in your everyday life?
Several minutes of washing of fruit and vegetable in an acidic environment (water with 2-3 tablespoons of citric acid) have been proven to be effective removing harmful bacteria, and then in alkaline environment (1 liter of water with a tablespoon of baking soda), which results in a greasy film appearing on the surface of the water, which means that pesticides from the skin of the plant have been hydrolysed – disintegrated. At the end, just rinse fruits and vegetables under running water and they are ready to be eaten!
In this way, we may not remove all of the contamination, but at least we can slightly limit the intake of these unfavorable substances with food.
Another option will be to select organically farmed products that do not use pesticides, as well as to choose seasonal products.