March is soon approaching. Everyone is looking forward to the beautiful colours of spring when flowers begin to bloom and grass turns green. Soon enough, everyone will be preparing their gardens for produce in the summer. However, with spring comes all the insects and pests as well. Many homeowners look into pesticides (in this article, pesticides will cover terms including herbicide, insecticide, etc) they can purchase to eradicate insects and weeds from their perfect garden. What these homeowners don’t know are the after effects these chemicals can have on the environment. Although Ontario has banned a numerous amount of ingredients contained in harmful pesticide products, many countries are still using them.
Although pesticides are very good for the purpose they are used for, the problem starts when it comes in contact with biological species that were not the intended target. Most pesticides are sprayed over a large area in order to ensure proper eradication of pests and therefore can reach other habitats and ecosystems. The main environmental effects seen from pesticides are the reduction of biodiversity and the destruction of habitats and ecosystems.
The reduction of biodiversity we are referring to include both plants and animals. Many animals enter areas that have been contaminated with pesticides and continue using those areas as a food source, not knowing of the chemicals they are ingesting. This can be seen when we look at the way birds are affected. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the application of pesticides causes the death of 72 million birds every year. Aquatic life is also affected due to the pesticide runoff from land application via irrigation or precipitation. The chemicals toxify the water killing both the aquatic plants and animals. This degrades aquatic habitats and prohibits further development of the ecosystem. Another problem is the transfer of the chemicals from one animal to another through bioaccumulation. This chemical can move up the food chain and affect multiple ecosystems. This can be seen when humans ingest aquatic life and results in the accumulation of the toxic chemical in our bodies. By decreasing the use of chemical pesticides and replacing it with organic substances we would be able to create a safer environment for everybody.