Think before you eat: Pesticides and herbicides are hidden in your food
03/17/2022 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
Think before you eat: Pesticides and herbicides are hidden in your food

Consumers often assume that most products like the fruits and vegetables sold in stores are safe to consume. This isn’t always true, unless you buy organic produce or grow organic fruits and vegetables in your home garden.

Most crops are grown with herbicides and pesticides that are linked to many health problems, but Big Agri continues to use them. Common culprits include glyphosate, a toxic herbicide ingredient, and atrazine, the second-most widely used herbicide in America.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines pesticides as chemical substances used to regulate, prevent or destroy plants or pests, such as insects, rodents, or microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. Alternatively, some pesticides act as a nitrogen stabilizer in soil.

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Over one billion pounds of conventional pesticides are used annually in the country. The number is alarming and it should make the public want to know how toxic the American agricultural system is.

For the last few years, reports have revealed that glyphosate was linked to the disruption of endocrine function. Glyphosate was also associated with asthma, childhood leukemia and even certain cancers.

In a landmark case in 2018, Monsanto was found liable for causing a school groundskeeper’s cancer through exposure to the weed killer Roundup.

Glyphosate isn’t the only dangerous substance used in modern agriculture. According to a study, atrazine, a herbicide that has been banned by the European Union since the 1980s, has hidden dangers.

Despite being banned, atrazine is still widely used in America.

EPA: Atrazine exceeded its “levels of concern” for chronic risk

Atrazine is a chlorine-based chemical that can persist in the soil for 22 years. The herbicide is manufactured by Syngenta, a leading agrochemical company.

Atrazine is popular in the Midwest and is mainly used on corn, sorghum and sugarcane to fight weeds and allegedly boost yields. At least 70 to 80 million pounds of atrazine are sprayed on corn each year, creating atrazine contamination spikes in the Midwest during spring and summer.

According to a report from the Environmental Working Group, water in some areas of the corn belt contain 14 times the amount of atrazine that the EPA legally allows. High levels of atrazine have been associated with several birth defects like oral clefts, limb deficiencies and neural tube defects.

Unfortunately, atrazine is a problem that affects other states. In 2015, atrazine was detected at levels “exceeding health-protective guidelines” in over 800 systems in 19 states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also warned that long-term exposure to atrazine can cause negative side effects, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Retinal and some muscle degeneration
  • Weight loss

Signs and symptoms of short-term exposure to atrazine

Atrazine is very low in toxicity if breathed in and can cause symptoms like a runny nose. While it isn’t considered an eye irritant, swelling or redness may occur if atrazine gets in the eyes. Skin exposure to atrazine may cause mild irritation, redness or swelling.

If you accidentally consume food with traces of atrazine, you may experience side effects such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Fatigue
  • Goosebumps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nose bleeds
  • Salivation
  • Swelling of the face
  • Tremors

Data suggests that when rats ate enough atrazine to almost kill them, they had increased activity followed by adverse effects such as incoordination, slowing and muscle spasms. Systemic toxicity from atrazine is not expected unless a large amount is consumed.

What happens to atrazine when it enters the body?

Atrazine doesn’t easily pass through the skin. Data shows that after it was left on human skin for 24 hours, about six percent of the dose was absorbed. It is unlikely to build up in the body.

However, as it moves through the body, atrazine may be found in fat, kidney, liver, ovary and red blood cells.

According to a study involving monkeys, atrazine was highest in blood plasma within one hour. The plasma half-life was four hours while metabolites of atrazine had half-lives of 2.8 and 17.8 hours.

Atrazine is excreted in the urine and feces. Urinary excretion of atrazine peaked one to two days after exposure, while fecal elimination peaked after two to four days.

According to data, after rats ate atrazine, at least 95 percent of the dose was gone from their bodies within seven days.

How to avoid exposure to toxic herbicides and pesticides

Pesticides and herbicides are toxic to human health and the environment. Experts warn that pursuing a more regenerative agriculture is key to protecting humans and animals against these toxic chemicals.

Follow the tips below to reduce your exposure to herbicides and pesticides:

  • Always purify drinking and cooking water.
  • Eat organic food as much as possible.
  • Buy food from trusted sources, like the local farmers’ market.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating. You can use either commercial vegetable and fruit washes formulated to remove chemical residue from produce or make a DIY produce wash. You will need a very diluted solution of mild dishwashing detergent. Add one teaspoon of detergent per gallon (or four liters) of water. When washing green beans, leafy vegetables or fruits like grapes and strawberries, swirl the foods in a diluted solution of dish detergent and water at room temperature for five to 10 seconds, then rinse with slightly warm water. For other fruits and vegetables, use a soft brush to scrub the food with the solution for about five to 10 seconds, then rinse with slightly warm water.
  • Use non-toxic methods for controlling insects at home and in your garden. Avoid chemical-based commercial insect pest control treatments that may introduce toxic chemicals to your home. Consider non-toxic alternatives like diatomaceous earth, which will kill many common indoor insects without harming your family or pets.
  • If you have the resources and space to do so, start a home garden and grow organic crops. Even a backyard garden plot as small as 400 sq. ft. can provide the bulk of the required produce for a family of four. Use organic methods instead of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. However, homegrown produce must also be washed before eating, especially if you live in an area where pesticides are sprayed aerially. Washing crops also helps eliminate other wind-blown contaminants that may reach your garden.

Buy produce from trusted sources, eat organic fruits and vegetables whenever you can, or try growing crops in a home garden to reduce your exposure to dangerous herbicides and pesticides like atrazine and glyphosate.

Sources:

NaturalHealth365.com

NPIC.orst.edu

Learn.Eartheasy.com

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