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    Insecticides Essay (948 words)

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    An insecticide is used to kill insects. There are many kinds of insecticides, but organic insecticides are the most commonly used (World Book, 1999). Organic insecticides are split into three different categories: chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides, organophosphate insecticides, and carbamate insecticides (World Book, 1999). In this paper, I’ll explore how toxic each of these insecticides is, how they affect wildlife, humans, and the environment, and what we can do to help.

    Why Use Insecticides?

    Some insects, like whiteflies and mosquitoes, can carry deadly diseases that affect crops, animals, and humans. Insects can cause about 5.5 billion dollars in crop and livestock losses every year. Some of the diseases they cause are Cattle Fever and Sheep Scab. The insecticides are used to kill insects and protect livestock (World Book, 1999). Insecticides can also be used on flea treatments for cats, dogs, and other animals (Ackerman, 1996).

    What Are Organic Insecticides?

    Organic insecticides are the most commonly and widely used insecticides. They are synthetic substances made from carbon, hydrocarbon insecticides, and organophosphate insecticides (World Book, 1999). Chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides, also known as “organic chlorines”, contain chlorine atoms (World Book, 1999). Common members of this group are Acaralate, Acarol, Aldrin, BHC, Chlordane, Chlorobenzilate, DDT, dicofol, dieldrin, endosulfan, endrin, heptachlor, kepone, lindane, methoxychlor, mirex, perthen, TDE, and toxaphene (Hamm 1982). They’re persistent because after being used once, they can still affect living things for several years. This is because they don’t break down chemically, so they’re found in soil, animal and fish tissue, plants, and water (Hamm, 1982).

    These, and all persistent insecticides, are trying to be replaced and restricted because they kill birds, fish, and other animals (World Book, 1999). Organophosphate insecticides contain a phosphorus atom (World Book, 1999). Common members of this group are Abate, azinphosethyl, azinphosmethyl, Bidrin, bromophos, bromophosethyl, carbophenothion, and chlorfenvinphos (Hamm, 1982). They are used on food because they don’t leave harmful deposits behind (World Book, 1999). This is because they break down rapidly into harmless components. They also break down in the presence of water. They have less environmental danger than chlorinated hydrocarbons, which is why they’ve almost replaced them for large-scale usage (Hamm 1982). However, they are poisonous to people. One type of organophosphate, parathion, is used to kill mites and aphids on fruit trees and vegetables. Another kind, malathion, is less dangerous to apply, so it’s widely used by farmers (World Book, 1999).

    Carbamates are the last kind of organic insecticide. They are made from carbamic acid, which is CO2NH3 (Hamm, 1982). They also contain one or more amino groups that consist of one nitrogen atom and two hydrogen atoms. They don’t leave harmful deposits in food, but some are harmful to warm-blooded animals (World Book, 1999). Common members of this group are aldicarb, BUX, carbaryl, carbofuran, dimethilan, formetanate, methiocarb, methomyl, propoxur, and zectran. These are relatively new and might eventually replace organophosphates (Hamm, 1982).

    How Toxic Are They?

    Carbamates contain the insecticide Sevin, which has a low toxicity. It is effective against many insects that are resistant to other pesticides. Carbamates also include the insecticide Baygon or Propoxar. Propoxar is highly toxic and has a long residual life. It’s effective against cockroaches, ticks, and other difficult insect and arachnid species (Hamm, 1982). Carbamates don’t leave harmful deposits in food (World Book, 1999).

    The Chlorinated Hydrocarbon group contains the insecticide DDT. DDT is moderately toxic and was once one of the most widely used insecticides but is now greatly restricted because it stays in soil and in water food chains (Hamm, 1982). It also endangers animals like birds and fish, and it contaminates the food that people eat. Since 1972, the U.S. Government phased out all use of DDT, but it’s still used in other countries (World Book, 1999).

    Organophosphates and carbamates carry some of the same risks. They are both commonly used and have a high incidence of acute toxicity in animals and humans. Both insecticides are used in flea treatments for pets. They’re more dangerous than the other commonly used insecticides like pyrethrins and pyrethoids.

    Symptoms of insecticide poisoning include pinpoint pupils, blurred vision, tightness in the chest, sweating, excessive tear production, salivation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Cardiovascular and neurological problems can also occur. Problems with the nervous system include decreased alertness, sleep disorders, memory loss, and paranoia. Long-term effects can occur in the immune system, nervous system, and reproductive system.

    How Can We Help?

    Some people are trying to change by using more natural insecticides. One such insecticide is cow urine. It’s used on cotton and protects it from whiteflies. It also works as a fertilizer. The iron, potassium, and magnesium in it make the crop grow better (Hecht, 1998). Another natural insecticide is chili powder. The only problem with this is it can affect people’s eyes and skin (Hecht, 1998). Other insecticides are red pepper, Bacillus thuringiensis (B+), and garlic juice. B+ comes from naturally occurring bacteria. You can make your own insecticide if you mix 2 tablespoons of red pepper and six drops of dish detergent into a gallon of water, let it sit overnight, and then stir it thoroughly. That can protect cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and collards (Long, 1998).

    There are many different kinds of insecticides. One group of these are organic insecticides. There are three different types of organic insecticides. Each type has different insecticides, but they are all dangerous. Some of them are replacing each other, and some are so dangerous they’re trying to be phased out. Some people are trying to help by using natural things that don’t have so many risks.


    I found that this topic was kind of hard to research. At first, I thought it would be easy.


    1. Ackerman, Lowell. “” Pet Health Initiative, Inc., 1996.
    2. HAMM, James G. The Handbook of Pest Control. Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 1982.
    3. Hecht, David and Georges Badiane. “Benign Urine.” New Internationalist, June 1998, pp. 12-16.
    4. Long, Cheryl. “Defeat Pests with Hot Pepper.” Organic Gardening, March 1998, p. 10.
    5. “DDT.” The World Book Encyclopedia, 1999.
    6. “Insecticides.” The World Book Encyclopedia, 1999.
    7. “Pesticides.” Webster’s New World Encyclopedia, 1992.

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