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Health, travel, environment and other related topics. Tips and tricks for keeping your body in shape for spiritual life. Taking care of your health while traveling in India.

Toxicity in veggies - (Poison alert for Punjab farmers)

nabadip - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 14:54:45 +0530
Note: Even though this article is about farmers endangering themselves with spraying pesticides, it gives us an idea of the level of toxicity present in vegetables produced by them.

Poison alert for Punjab farmers

Chandigarh, June 7: When they spray their fields with pesticides, Punjab’s farmers virtually conduct chemical warfare against themselves, a study by a Delhi-based NGO has found.

The Centre for Science and Environment has detected in the blood of the state’s farmers chemicals from six to 13 pesticides, in quantities up to 600 times the levels found in Americans.

“If it’s Punjab today, tomorrow it could be Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar. Regulation must begin immediately,” the centre’s director, Sunita Narain, said.

The tests were undertaken following media reports of an increase in cancer cases in Punjab. But Narain could not link the pesticides (organochlorine and organophosphate) in the bloodstream with cancer as she wasn’t sure exactly what harm they did to humans.

Studies on animals show that even a single instance of low-level exposure to some organophosphates can cause changes in the brain’s chemistry. Early childhood exposure can lead to lasting effects on learning, attention and behaviour.

The study, conducted in October, during spraying time, tested 20 randomly selected blood samples from four villages: Mahi Nangal, Jajjal and Balloh in Bathinda district and Dher in Ropar district. The districts are among the highest users of pesticides in the state.

Regulation of the use of the older-generation organochlorine pesticides, like DDT, Lindane and Aldrin, began in the 1970s. Some were later banned. Organophosphates have higher toxicity.

“The levels of certain organochlorine pesticides in the blood samples are very high,” she said. “They vary between 15 and 605 times higher than those found in samples of people in the United States, tested by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (and published) in its 2003 report.”

Narain suggested the chemical content of pesticides in India must be different from those in the US. Also, Indian farmers don’t take adequate precautions while spraying the chemicals in their fields.

“The people must be told about the harmful effects of the pesticides they have been using. I hold the industry responsible for the dismal situation,” she said. “We found pesticides that should have disintegrated in the body and been excreted, as claimed by the industry. But they are there.”

The centre has demanded a “chemical trespass law” to hold manufacturers responsible for chemicals getting into the human body, regular monitoring of pesticides in people and registering only those pesticides that have low toxic level.
Kulapavana - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 16:56:10 +0530
the mechanisms of pesticide entry and retention in humans and vegetables are very, very different. thorough washing will remove most pesticide residues from fruits and vegetables, as they do not actively absorb such chemicals.

humans actively absorb pesticides through inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption, and retain a lot of the absorbed chemicals in fatty tissues throughout the body.

the vegetable gets a one short time exposure during the spraying event, while the farmer is exposed all day as he is the one doing the spraying.
nabadip - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 17:06:07 +0530
a related story in a different field

Alarming level of pesticides detected in leading hospitals of Delhi
nabadip - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 17:14:02 +0530
QUOTE(Kulapavana @ Jun 8 2005, 01:26 PM)
thorough washing will remove most pesticide residues from fruits and vegetables, as they do not actively absorb such chemicals.

What about washing?

Washing will not change the rank of the fruits and vegetables in the Guide (see link below). That's because nearly all of the data used to create these lists comes from the USDA Pesticide Data Program (PDP) where the foods are washed and prepared for normal consumption prior to testing for pesticides (apples are washed and cored, bananas are peeled, etc.).

While washing fresh produce may help reduce pesticide residues, it clearly does not eliminate them. Nonetheless, produce should be washed before it is eaten because washing does reduce levels of some pesticides. However, other pesticides are taken up internally into the plant, are in the fruit, and cannot be washed off. Others are formulated to bind to the surface of the crop and do not easily wash off. Peeling reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel.

The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Kulapavana - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 19:12:55 +0530
contact pesticides (herbicides and insecticides) are not actively taken up by the plants and their residues are amenable to removal by washing. the article is about this group of chemicals.

systemic pesticides (used mostly in developed countries because of their high price) are indeed absorbed internally by the plants and have very persistent residues or metabolites.

I have been an organic gardener for many years and I know how it is to grow food without pesticides. Yet, there is no question that such produce is much healthier for both us and the environment... but sometimes, when you lose almost all of your crop to bugs, I fully understand the pesticide users crying.gif
nabadip - Wed, 08 Jun 2005 23:28:17 +0530
Thanks for your input, knowledgable as always in these matters, Kulapavanaji.

The main point in these two news clips should be repeated, though. Indians overdo it when using pesticides and other toxics. In some Indian languages, Tamil for instance, these chemicals, and poisons to kill rats, flies or other substances are called "medicine" using this English word. They have total faith in these miraculous substances, and use them in overdoses without any reluctance, rather with the assurance of increased prosperity the more they use of them.