A Man Applying Pesticides on a Rice Plantation Photo: MedicalNewsToday

Pesticides could increase spread of deadly infections, study finds

*Researchers say contaminated water supplies put consumers at risk

*Pesticides are not only an environmental burden but have also been linked to increase spread of schistosomiasis

*Findings inspire authorities to restrict access to these pesticides, as the risks far outweigh benefits

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Subsequent to recent concerns over the likelihood of pesticides becoming harmful to consumers’ well-being, report says many countries are banning certain pesticides due to health risks associated with the products.

Currently, a new-fangled study is seeking to reinforce those decisions by exploring how the use of such pesticides really can be harmful to consumers’ health, reports ConsumerAffairs.

Researchers from the University of California ─Berkeley, in the United States (US), opine that pesticides are not only an environmental burden but have also been linked to increase the spread of schistosomiasis ─ a deadly condition commonly known as snail fever that can lead to severe kidney damage.

Researcher Justin Remais said: “Environmental pollutants can increase our exposure and susceptibility to infectious diseases.

“From dioxins decreasing resistance to influenza virus, to air pollutants increasing COVID-19 mortality, to arsenic impacting lower respiratory tract and enteric infections ─research has shown that reducing pollution is an important way to protect populations from infectious diseases.”

In terms of the dangers of contaminated water, and to understand the dangers that pesticides pose to consumers’ health, the researchers analysed nearly 150 experiments that closely examined how consumers’ risk of contracting schistosomiasis is affected by the use of pesticides.

Report states that it quickly became apparent to the researchers that even minimal exposure to these chemicals could increase the likelihood of infection.

According to the researchers, the infection thrives in contaminated water; once consumers come into contact with these water supplies, the infection quickly spreads.

Christopher Hoover, one of the researchers in the study stated: “We know that dam construction and irrigation expansion increase schistosomiasis transmission in low-income settings by disrupting freshwater ecosystems.

“We were shocked by the strength of evidence we found also linking agrochemical pollution to the amplification of schistosomiasis transmission.”

Though widespread use of pesticides is not necessary for widespread infection, the researchers point out that these chemicals affect the natural ecosystem of the water.

For example, the snails that carry the infection are typically eaten by other animals in the water, stated the report.

However, the chemicals can make such waters uninhabitable for other creatures, a situation which creates the perfect ecosystem for the infectious snail population to thrive.

According to the report, in an effort to protect consumers from a potentially deadly infection, the researchers hope that these findings inspire lawmakers to do their part and restrict access to these pesticides, as the risks far outweigh the benefits.

Hoover added: “We need to develop policies that protect public health by limiting the amplification of schistosomiasis transmission by agrochemical pollution.

“If we can devise ways to maintain the agricultural benefit of these chemicals, while limiting their overuse in schistosomiasis-endemic areas, we could prevent additional harm to public health within communities that already experience a high and unacceptable burden of disease.”

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