The occurrence of chemical substances in their environment has recently become a thorny issue and has caused great debate. Toxicity is an inherent ability of a material to be poisonous and is evaluated in labs by quantification of LC50 or LD50 (lethal concentration or dose) (Damalas & Koutroubas, 2016). The presence of foreign particles and pesticides in food, water, and the air together with other toxic substances pose an immediate threat to the health of human beings while other substances can build up in the human body and the environment to cause disease after a long time. Besides, pesticides can cause long term chronic effects when they accumulate in human beings’ bodies (Hu et al., 2015). However, other factors like lifestyle, diet preference, and occupation must be considered during an epidemiological investigation to determine the relationship between disease and exposure. Even though chemicals play a critical role in a nation’s economic development, industrialization, and food production, exposure to chemicals is detrimental to health (Araki et al., 2018). This paper focuses on a case study of a fumigation company worker who was exposed to pesticides, the pathway of pesticides, organs, and system affected as a result of exposure to pesticides, acute and chronic effects of the chemical, and how exposure to the pesticide could be avoided.
Identify how the individual was exposed to the chemical.
Ruth, a 37-year-old lady, worked with a fumigation company for about six years. Over the years, the woman came into contact with different chemicals to fight pests while working in homes, farms, businesses, and companies. On several occasions, the lady experienced nausea, burning throat, and chest heaviness after fumigation but the symptoms would not last for days. On one occasion, the worm carried out a fumigation exercise in an apartment and after the exercise, she experienced aggravated symptoms. Subsequent laboratory tests revealed carbamate or organophosphate poison. Pesticides harm humans through injuries or poisoning. Injuries are caused by external irritants of the pesticides while poisoning is caused by pesticides that affect internal body organs.
Identify the exposure pathway of your chosen chemical
Pesticides toxicity is classified into three categories with regards to human exposure. The first type is the acute toxicity which occurs on a single and short-term incidence of exposure. Secondly, sub-chronic toxicity occurs from repeated exposure incidents for weeks or months and occurs in less than a lifetime of the exposed organism (Damalas & Koutroubas, 2016). Lastly, chronic toxicity occurs from a repeated exposure incident for months or years and sometimes occurs for an entire lifetime of the exposed individual (Araki et al., 2018). In this case, Ruth’s case is chronic toxicity because she worked for the fumigation firm for six years.
What organ systems were affected by the chemical?
Following the duration of exposure, Ruth’s toxicity is believed to have occurred in three different pathways which include inhalation, contact, and ingestion. inhalation of pesticides can cause serious damage to the lung, throat, and nose tissues (Damalas & Koutroubas, 2016). Also, absorption leads to respiratory exposure. On the other hand, pesticides that enter the body through ingestion can cause severe injury, serious injury, and death in extreme circumstances (Hu et al., 2015). Moreover, oral exposure can occur when the hands that are not properly washed get into contact with the mouth.
What acute and chronic effects of exposure to the chemical were observed?
Following chronic toxicity, acute and chronic effects of exposure were observed in Ruth. she experienced aggravated symptoms which included nausea, burning throat, chest heaviness, fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, loose stools, and abdominal cramping. The symptoms reveal excessive exposure or solvent carriers that are present in pesticide formulations (Damalas & Koutroubas, 2016).
Would the effects have been different if the individual was younger or older?
Pesticides have a different impact on human beings depending on the age and health condition of individuals. For instants, the elderly, infants, and those with health complications are highly sensitive to pesticides. Children’s exposure to pesticides is detrimental to their health as it affects their behavioral and neurological development (Hu et al., 2015). Therefore, if Ruth was a child, exposure to chemicals for six years could have resulted in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, psychomotor and mental development, and neonatal reflexes (Araki et al., 2018). On the other hand, if Ruth was elderly, the impacts of pesticide exposure would have been severe because the elderly have a thinner skin (Araki et al., 2018). As a consequence, pesticides would be absorbed into her body faster. Thus, the impact of pesticide exposure to Ruth would have been worse if she was younger or older.
How could exposure to the chemical be avoided?
Pesticide exposure has adverse effects on human health and in extreme conditions can cause loss of life. From the three pathways that the pesticides can enter the body, it is vital to take precautionary measures to prevent pesticides from entering the body. The first solution is to reduce dependence on pesticides as a mode of pest control (Damalas & Koutroubas, 2016). Therefore, alternative cropping systems should be adopted through advanced ecological knowledge of agronomists. Thus, farmers should maximize the use of natural processes of cropping systems to suppress the harmful organisms. Other than minimization of the use of pesticides, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is essentials in minimizing exposure to pesticides. Gloves, hats, long-sleeved shirts, hats, boots, and chemical resistance overalls should be won (Damalas & Koutroubas, 2016). It is important to note that the toxicity of a chemical determines the protective equipment to wear. For instance, when pesticides emit gasses or fumes that are harmful to the eyes, safety goggles should be worn (Hu et al., 2015). From the case study, it is evident that pesticides are toxic and have a drastic impact on human health. Thus, a lot of precautionary measures must be taken to minimize exposure to pesticides.
Araki, A., Miyashita, C., Mitsui, T., Goudarzi, H., Mizutani, F., Chisaki, Y., Itoh, S., … Kishi, R. (January 01, 2018). Prenatal organochlorine pesticide exposure and the disruption of steroids and reproductive hormones in cord blood: The Hokkaido study. Environment International.
Damalas, C. A., & Koutroubas, S. D. (2016). Farmers’ Exposure to Pesticides: Toxicity Types and Ways of Prevention. Toxics, 4(1), 1. doi:10.3390/toxics4010001
Hu, R., Huang, X., Huang, J., Li, Y., Zhang, C., Yin, Y., … Cui, F. (2015). Long- and short-term health effects of pesticide exposure: a cohort study from China. PloS one, 10(6), e0128766. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128766
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