Menu

Medicine

Dangerous Pesticides

Common pesticides used in growing tobacco, and their potential harms

As a monocrop, tobacco plants are vulnerable to a variety of pests and diseases, prompting many farmers to apply large quantities of chemicals and pesticides, which harm human health and the environment.

ALDICARB

Affects brain, immune and reproductive system in animals and humans; highly toxic even at low doses; soil and ground water contaminant.
USA, phasing out by 2018. EU member states, highly restricted use.

CHLORPYRIFOS

Affects brain and respiratory system at high doses; found widely in soil, water, air, and food.
USA, banned for home use in 2000.

1,3-DICHLOROPROPEN

Highly toxic effects on skin, eye, respiratory and reproductive system; leaches readily into groundwater; probable cancer-causing agent in humans.
EU member states, phased out in 2009.

IMIDACLOPRID

Affects brain and reproductive system; highly toxic to bees and other beneficial insects and certain bird species; persistent in the environment in soil, water, and as a food contaminant; contains naphthalene and crystalline quartz silica, which are cancer-causing agents; used in large volumes in agriculture.
EU member states, two-year ban for use on crops attractive to bees in 2013. 

METHYL BROMIDE

Affects skin, eye, brain and respiratory system; may cause fluid in lungs, headaches, tremors, paralysis or convulsions; volatile, ozone-depleting agent.
Phasing out by 2015 under Montreal Protocol of the United Nations Environment Programme.

CHLOROPICRIN

Lung-damaging agent; high-level exposures cause vomiting, fluid in lungs, unconsciousness and even death; toxic to fish and other organisms; used as a tear gas in WWI.
EU member states, banned since 2011.

CARBARYL

Affects brain, and immune and reproductive system; likely cancer- causing agent, linked with cancer among farmers; linked with low sperm counts among exposed men; toxic to bees and other beneficial insects and aquatic life; contaminant in air and water.
EU member states, banned since 2007.

162,200

Each year, secondhand smoking in the United Kingdom causes over 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection, 120,000 cases of middle ear disease, 22,000 new cases of wheeze and asthma, and 200 cases of bacterial meningitis in children alone.

Underestimated Exposure

Exposure to secondhand smoke in children brought to a hospital for asthma or breathing problems: Cincinnati, USA, 2010–2011

While only one third of parents reported that their children were exposed to secondhand smoke, laboratory tests confirmed that, in reality, 80% of children brought to a hospital (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center) in the United States for asthma or breathing problems were exposed to secondhand smoke. These findings indicate that many respiratory diseases that might not be linked to secondhand smoke based on self-reports may in fact be related to the exposure.

Harms in Children

Level of evidence for harms caused by secondhand smoke in children

Resources

Methods

Sufficient evidence is the term used by the US Surgeon General to indicate that current evidence strongly supports the inference of a causal relationship between smoking and specific health outcomes. Suggestive evidence = similar term used to indicate that current evidence, although indicative, is not yet sufficient to infer a causal relationship.

Sources

IARC Working Group. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, vol 100E: Personal Habits and Indoor Combustions. Lyon: IARC Press; 2012.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2014 Atlanta, USA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health 2014.

Pagani LS. Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and brain development: The case of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews. 2013.

Saulyte J, Regueira C, Montes-Martinez A, Khudyakov P, Takkouche B. Active or passive exposure to tobacco smoking and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy in adults and children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS medicine. 2014;11(3):e1001611.

Jubulis J, Kinikar A, Ithape M, Khandave M, Dixit S, Hotalkar S, et al. Modifiable risk factors associated with tuberculosis disease in children in Pune, India. The international journal of tuberculosis and lung disease : the official journal of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. 2014;18(2):198-204.

du Preez K, Mandalakas AM, Kirchner HL, Grewal HM, Schaaf HS, van Wyk SS, et al. Environmental tobacco smoke exposure increases Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection risk in children. The international journal of tuberculosis and lung disease : the official journal of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. 2011;15(11):1490-6, i.

Harms in Adults

Level of evidence for harms caused by secondhand smoke in adults

Resources

Methods

Sufficient evidence is the term used by the US Surgeon General to indicate that current evidence strongly supports the inference of a causal relationship between smoking and specific health outcomes. Suggestive evidence = similar term used to indicate that current evidence, although indicative, is not yet sufficient to infer a causal relationship.

Sources

IARC Working Group. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, vol 100E: Personal Habits and Indoor Combustions. Lyon: IARC Press; 2012.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2014 Atlanta, USA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health 2014.

Pagani LS. Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and brain development: The case of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews. 2013.

Saulyte J, Regueira C, Montes-Martinez A, Khudyakov P, Takkouche B. Active or passive exposure to tobacco smoking and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy in adults and children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS medicine. 2014;11(3):e1001611.

Jubulis J, Kinikar A, Ithape M, Khandave M, Dixit S, Hotalkar S, et al. Modifiable risk factors associated with tuberculosis disease in children in Pune, India. The international journal of tuberculosis and lung disease : the official journal of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. 2014;18(2):198-204.

du Preez K, Mandalakas AM, Kirchner HL, Grewal HM, Schaaf HS, van Wyk SS, et al. Environmental tobacco smoke exposure increases Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection risk in children. The international journal of tuberculosis and lung disease : the official journal of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. 2011;15(11):1490-6, i.

Harm from Tobacco

Tobacco causes disease and disability to almost every organ.

Smoking and mental illness

Smoking prevalence among people with lifetime mental illnesses: USA, 2007

Current smoking prevalence increased with greater numbers of mental illness, ranging from 18.3% for people with no illness to 61.4% for people with three or more mental illnesses.

Close