Herbicides and insecticides are chemical or biological agents used to kill unwanted pests that may diminish crops or otherwise affect human life. They are known for their beneficial effects, as well as for the hazards they may pose to the environment.
Insecticides include organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates. Herbicides can be phenoxy and benzoic acid herbicides, triazines, ureasetc. Other pesticides can include glyphosate and other compounds. They use different methods of affecting their target, from poisoning the organism through interfering with photosynthesis.
While herbicides and insecticides are helpful in getting rid of pests of various kinds, the wider public may be unaware that they mostly reach unwanted targets. As most of them are not strictly targeted to their object, they can be carried into the water, soil or air around them and have numerous adverse effects on humans and the environment.
Studies show that every single water stream examined in the U.S. showed traces of pesticide pollution. Herbicides and insecticides were also identified in significant quantities in rain and groundwater. They are also damaging to bee populations and food sources, so that certain animals can be deprived of their food sources and caused to starve or relocate (birds and fish among them).
For humans, herbicides and insecticides are known pollutants. They can be inhaled, ingested through food or water or become harmful through direct skin contact. Depending on the length of exposure and the concentration of the pollutants, they cause serious health concerns, for children particularly, but also for adults.