Thomas a persistent infestation within a dwelling, either

Thomas Dinkel

Jarret K. Rose

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Pesticides: A Pest Themselves?

Both pest infestations and pesticides are known to be
causations for negative impacts on human health. Such impacts include, but are
not limited to, allergic reactions, COPD, heart disease, cancer and more. The
increased use of pesticides, especially when applied by consumers rather than a
professional, as often seen in low income settings which often are prone to
falling victim to pest infestations. Increased use of pesticide use like this
over time has resulted in pests becoming resistant to the pesticides used and
in turn resulted in increased pest presence. The implementation of safer
alternatives known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods, are now more
important that ever. IPM alone or used in combination with pesticides is much
more cost effective which especially benefits those within low income settings.

During the past few decades pesticides have been used in
culture in nearly every aspect of an environmental setting to control pests
whether it be within dwellings or in rural settings to protect crops and
livestock. The issue stemming from the pesticide use is that the exposure has
been shown to cause serious illness. The increased pesticide use of the past
few decades has increased the health issues as a result. Higher amounts of
pesticide presence, largely coming from those applied by the consumer have been
seen in lower income neighborhoods due to a higher recorded presence of pests.
This can be seen in cities such as NYC. Combined use of both consumer applied
and professional extermination methods may indicate a persistent infestation
within a dwelling, either from the type of infesting insect and its resistance
to common pesticides, or the wrong use of procedure or inappropriate use of
chemicals used for the treatment (Kevin and Ralph, 392).

A recent study was done in NYC in order to determine the
effects residual pesticide chemicals used within low income dwellings had on
residents. It included a study on pregnant women to determine if there were any
effects on the unborn fetus. Again, this particular setting provided the ideal
environment due to the need for pesticides and the abundance of pest presence
within the low-income spaces. It was found that among the 314 pregnant women
observed, a staggering 100% of these women showed detectable levels of
pesticides in their system, three entirely different types of pesticides
altogether (Kevin and Ralph, 395). The same pesticides were found in blood
samples were found not just in mothers, but the newborn baby at the time of the
delivery. This data suggested there is a placental transfer of these pesticide
chemicals can often occur. These pesticides did not go without their negative effects,
either. One chemical in particular, organophosphate chlorpyfrifos, resulted in
a significant contributor to lowered birth weight and length. It had also shown
to cause poorer metal and motor development by the age of 3 (Williams and
Whyatt, 1684).

Widespread use within pest treatment of these pesticides is
a significant cause of the health threats to the public. Children have been proven
to be most vulnerable groups within the public to fall victim to these health
effects. Children are vulnerable because of their small body mass which results
in a far more detrimental effect on their overall health. It has been shown
that the correlation between cancer and the direct exposure of pesticides is especially
true when it comes to children. The same is true for conditions related to
breathing. Children who have been exposed to pesticides are at a much higher
risk of developing asthma before 5 years of age (Williams and Whyatt, 1684).

Among the issues linked to pesticide exposure exists
evidence that it causes a variety of serious, at times fatal, respiratory
ailments. Conditions include, COPD, asthma, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer
and many more. Studies have shown that pesticide exposure negatively effects
the cardiovascular as well as the respiratory system but it has also become
clear that pesticide exposure is also the likely cause for chronic respiratory symptoms.
While more research needs to be done on how likely pesticide exposure is to
cause lung cancer, it was found that among women in particular seem to show a
positive link between the two. The same was also true for those working within
the agricultural setting within land that utilizes arsenic based pesticides (E.
Darcun and M. Darcun, S15). It is important to note that many of the same
chemicals used within the agricultural setting have also been used within
commercial or residential settings, therefore, residents within the low-income
setting are often exposed to the same chemicals shown to cause negative health
conditions within those working and living in the agricultural setting (Walsh
and Zhu, 3). The increased use of such chemicals and the increased pest
presence due to the ever-dwindling efficacy of these pesticides is now
monumental. This use of pesticides could almost be regarded as irresponsible
and it is imperative that new methods find their place within the realm of pest
control to keep the environment and ultimately the people living within their
environments safe from harmful chemicals which result in poor health which can
sometimes be fatal.

As pointed out before, while we are seeing an increase in
pesticide use we are not seeing a decrease in pest population, rather, we are
seeing a steady increase in presence of pests. This is due to many pests having
developed a resistance to the chemicals commonly used in pesticides and these
same chemicals are often used across the board with no exclusivity to a
particular setting, be it, agricultural or urban. Urbanization has not shown
any time of stopping due to the global population continuing to grow. This has
lead to the use both pests and pesticide use respectively. Pests that are
commonly found and treated for within the urban and low-income settings include
the common House Fly, German Cockroach, and Mosquitos. House Flies are
extremely common and have become very well adapted to habitations of humans.
These pests thrive on our dwellings, garbage dumps, food storage and more. When
most people think of these flies it is often thought they are nothing more than
a mere annoyance, however, the House Fly is shown to carry a multitude of
diseases including an excess of 100 human diseases. Among these diseases are
pathogens that have also become resistant to our antibiotics. This makes the fly’s
resistance to our pesticides that much more alarming (Walsh and Zhu, 3).

House flies are generally controlled using treatment which
utilizes a broad range of different chemicals. Over time though, the house fly has
built a resistance to most of these which amounts to around 62 unique active
ingredients. Perhaps more problematic, the house fly treatment methods require
multiple applications of the these chemicals before they can even start to have
any effect at all.

German Cockroaches are often treated with many of the same
chemicals seen within treatment of the house fly and have also built up their
own resistance. The German cockroach is one of the most common indoor pests and
are also responsible for many negative health effects in terms of both
allergens and food contamination. Cockroaches can trigger allergic reactions by
means of their feces, cast skins and even saliva, all of which are known to
cause outburst of reactions and even psychological harm to sensitive
individuals. They are often the cause of initiating asthmatic attacks especially
within children (Walsh and Zhu, 4). This is especially true for those living
within low income settings as seen in NYC (Evans and Kass, 1219). Currently as
it stands, the German cockroach is rated at No. 2 pesticide resistant pest
within the urban setting in the world. They have become resistant to 42 unique
active ingredients within 219 documented cases worldwide. German cockroach
populations have continued to grow within the urban setting and low-income dwellings
consequently due to such a high resistance to pesticides. However, since the md
1980s there has been an increase within baits used to treat such infestations.
These typically fall within IPM methods, however, the bats used have often used
chemicals which have remained unchanged since implementation and it has been
shown that German cockroaches have also since developed a behavioral resistance
to these baits and therefore their efficacy has decreased significantly. The
chemicals used within these now aging bait methods needs to be reviewed and
improved upon while also being used in conjunction with other IPM methods in
order to decrease the number of chemicals used for treatment of the pest (Walsh
and Zhu, 4).

Another very common pest experienced within low income
settings, are for the most part seen in virtually any setting, is the Mosquito.
The Mosquito is often an after thought when pests within urban and low-income
settings come to mind, however, they are nearly as common as the house fly and
the German cockroach. No different from the pests discussed earlier, the
Mosquito is responsible for the transmission of pathogens and parasites in
humans. Among ailments seen in the transmission to humans include Malaria,
yellow fever and West Nile virus. All of which can prove deadly, especially if
not treated properly and promptly. It should come as no surprise that the same
chemical active ingredients used in pesticides to treat cockroaches and house
flies discussed earlier are also used for treatment of mosquitos. Like the
cockroach and the house fly, the mosquito has built a strong resistance to
these pesticides.

Among the house fly, German cockroach and the mosquito, the
most common active ingredient used fr treatment of infestations between them is
called Pyrethroid. This is because the chemical is often cheap and readily
available. In fact, this chemical is not only the main chemical used for
mosquito treatment but one of the only chemicals used. This is seen worldwide
and has become such a commonplace for use in treatment that the resistance seen
in pests is only becoming greater. Pyrethroids are no exception in terms of
chemicals that cause negative health effects within humans which include cancer
and breathing problems such as COPD and asthma (Walsh and Zhu, 5). The issue
here is twofold. Pests have increased in population due to pesticide resistance
and therefore pesticide use has increased in an attempt to combat this pest
presence, both of which have resulted in the increase of presence of chemicals
and allergens harmful to human health. As the pesticide use increases, so will
the pest population and the reports of health issues within humans. Again, this
will significantly impact those within low-income housing who are often victim to
a large presence of pests.

While pesticide treatment has shown to directly result in
negative human health via inhalation, ingestion and even skin absorption, it is
easy to see why decreasing our reliance solely on the use of these chemicals
and begin to transition to alternatives. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) involves
methods with a primary focus on improving sanitary and structural conditions to
prevent pests from obtaining the essentials like food, water, harborage, and
movement within environments and includes the judicious use of pesticides after
determining if there is a need to involve them in combination with the
alternative methods. Studies have made it clear that educating individuals on
IPM, either by itself or when used in combination with commercial cleaning
services, has been successful at reducing cockroach population and the level of
cockroach allergens within a space. The same study was able to show that even
the most modest of single-visit IPM intervention within public housing, often
inclusive of low-income housing, is more successful at reducing cockroach presence
and allergen levels compared to the traditional scheduled pesticide treatment
on its own (Evans and Kass, 1219).

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
(DOHMH) and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have been some of the
first to implement such IMP methods which have been designed with the idea of
keeping these methods low cost and easily scaled. The NYCHA has made it a
priority to train an entire unit within its workforce. As it stands, there are
around 75 trained pest control professionals on IPM strategies. 


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