Medical News Today: Are pesticides in food harmful?

a man spraying Pesticides into a field of crops that will be used for foodShare on Pinterest
Farmers may use pesticides to increase crop yield.

Pesticides can be toxic to humans, but the function of the pesticide determines how harmful they are.

The effect may also depend on the amount and concentration of the pesticide. It can also have different effects depending on whether a person gets it on their skin, swallows it, or inhales it.

There is not much research regarding the possible long-term health risks of pesticide exposure. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that coming into contact with large amounts of pesticides could affect reproduction and potentially be a cause of cancer.

According to the WHO, insecticides are typically more toxic to humans than herbicides.

Exposure to large quantities of a pesticide may cause poisoning. Symptoms of poisoning may appear immediately or after a few hours.

Some symptoms of mild poisoning may include:

Some symptoms of moderate poisoning may include:

  • blurred vision
  • confusion
  • vomiting
  • constriction of the throat
  • rapid pulse

Some symptoms of severe poisoning may include:

  • chemical burns
  • unconsciousness
  • an inability to breathe
  • excessive phlegm in the airways

If a person is concerned that they have been exposed to large quantities of pesticides, they should call Poison Control on 1-800-222-1222.

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