Pesticides are designed to kill, supposedly insects but not humans. Numerous pesticides are sprayed upon crops to keep them glamorous enough until they reach grocery stores and last until consumption. Even though assessing detailed health effects is still a scientific challenge, the accumulated health risks and detriments cannot be completely ignored. These toxins have been developed to eradicate insects but are causing side effects to our health too. The pesticide residues remaining on what we consume each day have proven to be harmful and can be attributed as the source of many untraceable and unexpected health problems in the long run.
While leading a more natural and healthy lifestyle has been under the spotlight in this age of artificialization, pesticide usage could be targeted as a root cause for many chronic diseases and prolonged health effects. The chemical composition of certain pesticides has been discovered to hinder the biochemical processes of vital organs
As soon as a pesticide enters the passageways of the body and comes in contact with any cell, it chemically reacts with its newfound surroundings, lowering the toxicity. These counter effects occur to make it more water soluble and easier to excrete out of the system. The body reacts to each pesticide depending on its chemical structure and properties including its shape, size, electronic charge, and how stable it is, defining how soluble the pesticide will be in different solutions and surroundings. These unique characteristics can determine if the substrate, or the reacting pesticide molecule, can bind onto its complementary receptor site on cells. As electron distribution changes and energy transition states are lowered, chemical reactions via enzymes instigate the formation of products, in this case the catalysis of a biological process.
Enzymes are the proteins present in our body that speed up the reactions taking place within us at a desired rate for life to sustain. The presence of pesticides interrupts the rate of habitual routines that the body performs. Any interruptions or interferences in the midst of these enzymatic processes can trigger a toxic response, acting as an inhibitor to the natural reactions. Homeostasis is disrupted as a result, creating numerous imbalances that cause organs to respond in unpredictable manners.
Sodium bisulfite is one of the ordinary pesticides that prevent the browning and blackening of fresh fruits, vegetables. Known as sodium hydrogen sulfite, has a chemical formula of NaHSO3. Refer to its structural formula in Figure 1. This chemical combination has the properties of readily reacting against dissolved oxygen. In addition, it discharges sulfur dioxide as a byproduct in the presence of water, which inhibits bacterial and fungal growth caused by common chemical reactions (3).
Generally, any foreign substance that goes into the lungs elicits reactions which set off asthma attacks as the airways in the lungs contract and restrict airflow. The presence of pesticides in the respiratory system creates a more hyperactive and aggressive response as the constriction of airways causes bronchiole contractions to occur, causing wheezing and breathlessness. The high level toxicity of pesticides that engulfs the lungs through residues from food puts your respiratory system under enormous stress, which is detrimental to victims of asthma.
Organophosphates are a type of phosphoric acid consisting of the elements phosphorus, carbon, and hydrogen. Refer to the structural formula in Figure 2. Especially seen on fruits we eat every day, organophosphates are repeatedly sprayed on pounds and pounds produce to keep them insect-free enough to catch your eye at the grocery store even though the EPA classifies them to moderate to highly toxic. Tests conducted by the USDA in 2008 found that ‘95% of celery tested contained pesticides, and 85% contained multiple pesticides, 93.6% of apples, 96% of peaches, a single blueberry has residue from 13 different chemicals,’ (HuffPo).
The organic molecule, whose purpose is to function as a neurotoxin to insects has been now discovered as an inhibitor to multiple processes. Since cells aren’t physically connected to one another, the synapses of neuron relay messages to the brain. These ‘bridges’ forming the entire network throughout the body are broken when hit by organophosphates. In the nervous system, the organophosphate is accountable for restraining the flow of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme crucial to nerve transmissions of impulses between our cells or a neurotransmitter. The breaking down of this particular enzyme signals when one transmission is completed and another is ready to begin. Figure 3 displays how the toxin enters the neuron and obstructs its path.
Synthetically composed pesticides in today’s industry are causing health deterioration greatly impacting children at a young age. Children in general are about twice as more vulnerable to intoxication by pesticides as eating and drinking more, they take in more pesticides and toxic chemicals relative to body weight. Their undeveloped organs are unable to filter out hazardous chemicals, which remain in their system and overtime produce a negative effect in several mediums.
The excess buildup of AChE makes young children whose bodies are still in growing stages, extremely susceptible to neurological damage and dysfunction, preempting problems in behavior and cognition. The conditions of an over-stimulated nervous system is the defining neuropathic cause of ADHD, holding about 5.9 million children captive in the United States (CDC 2015).
High percentages of residues present in common foods we eat daily, the vast use of these human-composed toxins is directly unsafe. The exact chemical arrangement of these, have been proved to collide with the cellular functions performed to sustain life within us. While organic foods are considered healthier but also more expensive, currently less than 1% of US farmland has been adopted for implementation of organic farming systems. As we wait for organic farming to amplify and become more affordable, an alternative resolution is the evolution of biopesticides. Recently, the federal government has proposed to increase research in alternate solutions using biotechnology under the National Bio-economy Blueprint. They have given their consent to find microbiological substances and microorganisms to synthesize chemicals replacing toxic pesticides.
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