Impact of insecticides on the environment (non target species) and on human health - Université de Lorraine Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2019

Impact of insecticides on the environment (non target species) and on human health


Insecticides have been widely used in pest control and pest-related diseases in agriculture, fishery, forestry and food industry. Such as other categories of pesticides, which include fungicides, herbicides, larvicides, … chemical insecticides do need to be toxic to target species to be allowed for use by regulatory authorities. These active substances are selected not only for their destructive efficiency, but also on the basis of the risks that should be minimal to non-target species and human health: a difficult challenge indeed! The shift from the hazardous organochlorines represented by the emblematic DDT, to the organophosphorus and carbamate insecticides, and to the less toxic pyrethroids, illustrate the trend and the search for substances of lesser concerns. The properties of persistence in environmental compartments, bioaccumulation in biota, biomagnification in food chains, and toxicity will explain the ban of most organochlorinated compounds as POPs (persistent organic pollutants) by the Stockholm convention in 2001. At present, organophosphates (OPs) and pyrethroids are the two main chemical classes in use owing to their degradability and low remanence in the environment. [Yet, in cases of insect resistance to these molecules, DDT may still be recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization) in vector control plans]. The second part of the lecture will deal with an overview of the toxicity of insecticides to non-target species and to people in the workplace. All the insecticide categories cited above are primarily neurotoxicants for invertebrates (insects) and vertebrates (mammals, humans). They exert their toxicity to target and non-target species as well, because the selectivity criterion cannot be fully met. Neurotoxicity is responsible for paralysis and death of insects in the short term, i.e., the symptoms of acute toxicity, but also for delayed syndromes of nervous poisoning at low doses of exposure of nontarget species (e.g., bees) and humans. Additionally, insecticides may display other forms of toxicity in humans, for instance on hepatic, immune, cardiac or endocrine functions…, leading to side effects in the long term at lower levels of exposure than those producing acute effects. Therefore, precautionary measures should be taken to prevent any occupational contamination through inhalation, contact or food ingestion. Individual and collective protection equipments should be provided and correctly used to avoid acute and chronic diseases of workers.
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hal-03232479 , version 1 (21-05-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-03232479 , version 1


Paule Vasseur. Impact of insecticides on the environment (non target species) and on human health. ONE HEALTH FAOPMA-Pest Summit-2019, FAOPMA, Sep 2019, Daejeon, South Korea. ⟨hal-03232479⟩
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