Part One: The hazards
Since the dawn of time man has waged war against various species that we label as pests. It’s a pretty broad category that runs the range of animals which pose a threat to our safety to those that we fight with over resources to those that ruin our hobbies and in some cases our livelihood. The development of poisonous chemicals in the middle of the 20th century brought this war to a whole new level, and people began to feel as though we were finally going to win the war against the pests which plagued us.
Unfortunately the reduction in pests for a short time was a battle won, but we were far from winning the war. In fact, the use of too much chemicals proved an awful mistake in all cases, whether large or small. Today chemical control of pests is restricted by law for commercial interests, but may still be carried on by the individual home owner. Let’s take a look at why too much usage of chemicals (and we’ve coined a new word for it, “chemicalization”, which we hope catches on) can be very hazardous – in the second part of the series we will take a look at why they are also ineffective.
The threat to human health
Insects pests, in particular, are survivors – it takes an awful lot of powerful poison to kill them. It stand to reason that what can harm an insect can also harm a human being, and this proves to be the case 9.5 times out of 10 when it comes to chemical treatments. Ever notice that when you are applying a toxic treatment to get rid of pests you are told to wear a mask and gloves? That should tell you something!
In addition to posing a direct threat to your health, most poisons have the potential to have indirect health effects as well. The toxins can leech into water supplies as well as soil, and stay around for years. The accumulated effect over time can be just as bad as one big dose!
All pests have some place within the ecosystem, and it stands to reason that poisons which are used to control them will also harm the environments in which they live. Think that doesn’t matter to you? Well, if you are using chemicals to control garden pests, it certainly does! The chemicals used for most garden pests will also ruin the soil where you use them. This means that in time, your garden will no longer grow. Of course, you could always use chemical fertilizers, but you are really only compounding the problem and eventually your soil will be useless. Not to mention all those chemicals get into the produce and then into your own body!
Other Environmental Hazards
By now, most people are aware of the fact that DDT spray was responsible for almost wiping out the entire population of birds of prey in the United States. The result was greater numbers of rodent pests, which caused more destruction, and so on. This kind of problem is not limited to DDT alone; all chemicals have the potential to do massive environmental damage, most of which we are not aware of until it is too late or almost too late. In the end this effects us just as much as the pests we try to control.
In the next article in this series, we will take a look at some of the reasons why over chemicalization is not only hazardous, but also a big waste of your money.