Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Risks In The Pesticide Manufacturing Industry

Indoor Air Quality management by way of ventilation modification And the use of localized exhaust extraction systems

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Risks In The Pesticide  Manufacturing Industry 1

Beginning with the first attempt at crop cultivation around 7000 B.C., humans have devised various and diverse methods to prevent insects from eating and destroying valued harvests. Removing bugs by hand, planting insect-resistant varieties, even planting during different phases of the moon, were all options used by individuals to varying affect. Chemicals, in their natural form, were used as well. Large-scale efforts for pesticide use were being made by the 1940s; applications of sulfur were used to combat powdery mildew in Britain, followed by the introduction of water-insoluble substances to target the Colorado beetle. By WW II, pesticides were still weak, with only about 30 in existence, until DDT was initiated as the manufactured chemical of choice and became widely used in the 1950s.

Today, pesticide use is so widespread that there are more than 2 billion pounds of conventional pesticides used in the United States alone – a figure that represents a mere 22% of its worldwide use.1

The term pesticide is a broad term that refers to any device, method or chemical that kills plants or animals that are undesirable and/or compete for human resources. These include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and rodenticides. A pesticide consists of an active ingredient coupled with one or more inert ingredients. The active ingredient repels or eliminates pests, while the inert ingredients enable usability and coat the target areas. 2 Initially extracted from natural substances, pesticides are now manufactured mainly in laboratories and factories. Synthetic pesticide production is a complicated chemical method, one that is fraught with significant risk potential.

The compounds used in the making of pesticides are powerful chemicals. Given that pesticides are created to be toxic enough to kill plants and animals, it is reasonable to assume that humans are at risk as well. Indeed they are.

Workers who are engaged in the production and formulation processes for insecticides, for example, come into regular contact with toxic substances such as nitrophenol. Nitrophenol has the potential to cause both acute and chronic health problems. 3 Over-exposure can cause short-term issues such as headaches, drowsiness, nausea, cyanosis (a condition that turns lips, ears and fingernails blue) and even unconsciousness. While studies on long-term risk factors are few, some medical research has linked high rates of male sterility from continued occupational exposure to workers in the pesticide industry. 4

But toxic over-exposure isn’t a necessary part of the job. Preventative risk-reduction steps can be easily incorporated into production at most pesticide manufacturing facilities. The elimination of dusty work areas, correcting poor ventilation, the use of localized exhaust extraction systems and requiring the use of protective clothing for workers all will help eliminate the risk of over-exposure. 5

At Air Systems Inc., providing our customers in the pesticide manufacturing industry with products to ensure clean and pure indoor air is our main concern. For nearly 40 years, we have been Cleaning The Air You Breathe. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced clean air specialists.