by Savannah Keller on February 22, 2014

Everyday humans are exposed to a wide variety of pests, and one many occasions we are unaware of these encounters.  Whether you stumble upon a spider in your room, get a mosquito bite, or even deal with mice or bed bugs in your apartment, you are interacting with pests.  Due to this high vulnerability,  humans have generated tactics to reduce the health risks that these pests can create in our lives.  A present day example is the threat of the West Nile Virus.  The disease is transmitted through mosquitoes when “they feed on the blood of infected birds, subsequently transmitting the pathogen to a human victim (Nadakavukaren 187).”   Humans cannot detect which mosquitoes carry the disease, therefore we must protect ourselves from all mosquito bites.  While the disease is not always life threatening, it is an ailment that many humans would try to avoid. The simple solution is wearing insect repellent, a spray that will prevent mosquitoes from getting close enough to bite you.
Although humans will try to avoid getting a mosquito bite at all costs, we must consider what these costs could be.  Using insect repellents may not have any negative health implications for humans; however, some products can affect living organisms including other animals and plants.  The common ending in repellents is “-cide”, derived form the Latin root, “to kill”.  Pesticides are certainly useful for killing unwanted pests, but they pose harm when their killing powers are spread to other living organism. Therefore this question follows: if pesticides can kill a pest organism, what other living organisms will they be killing in the process?
For the average American, the most commonly used pesticides are simple household products.  These include flea treatments for dogs, bed bug fighting pesticides, and sprays for weeds in gardens.  Most of these products are harmless if they are used correctly.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, every registered pesticide will have the EPA registration number on its label, and these products can also be searched online to ensure they are approved as safe.  For the most part, these products are safe as long as they are used with caution and stored in environments with regulated temperature and away from the reach of children.
The more harmful types of pesticides that can be the stronger and more potent are the pesticide sprays used for large agricultural fields.  While these sprays can protect crops from harm, the main concern is that they can easily drift from the intended area to an area that does not need to be sprayed.  Subsequently the spray will not only be killing the pests that are harming the crops, but other living organisms that may be productive for other ecosystems.
The EPA has acknowledged that their “pesticide applications can expose people, wildlife, and the environment to pesticide residues that can cause health and environmental effects and property damage (EPA website:”  As a result, they have taken many precautions and started to implicate certain procedures in an attempt to prevent these issues from occurring.  One such method is the Drift Reduction Technology (DRT) Program.  The purpose of this program is to test and create new technologies such as different spray nozzles that can reduce the risk of the drift of the spray particles. Another initiative is their funding of an educational division that has “developed specific educational programs that enhance the commercial aerial applicator profession” and train the aerial pilots how to minimize the drift when spraying pesticides.
While many citizens are still very concerned with the negative health implications that these fertilizing sprays can create, the positive results may outweigh these concerns.    If crops can be saved and the populations of mosquitoes can be reduced using aerial spraying methods, perhaps these benefits are worth the risk.  Furthermore, as the EPA continues to develop new technology, it is expected that these methods of pesticides will become even more effective and safe overtime.

EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 30 Dec. 2013. Web. 06 Feb. 2014.

“Pesticides and Agricultural Soils.” National Pesticide Information Center. N.p., n.d.
Web. 06 Feb. 2014.

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