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Pesticides in vegetables pose health hazard

Published : 22 Feb 2020 08:43 PM | Updated : 03 Sep 2020 09:43 PM

Excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in vegetable cultivation in the country is exposing consumers to serious health threats, damaging soil, and polluting the environment, according to experts.

They say farmers across Bangladesh use excessive chemical fertilisers and pesticides in vegetable cultivation for better yield.
Health experts say that by eating such vegetables, people are being affected with various diseases, including lung cancer and skin disorders.
Dr Shawkat Ali, a former assistant professor of cardiology at Dhaka National Heart Institute and Hospital, said many vegetables now contain high amount of zinc, cadmium and potassium, which affect human health.

He told Bangladesh Post that chronic exposure to high concentration of zinc, cadmium and potassium could result in lung cancer, psoriasis and metabolic disorders.

Soil scientists say that though there had been no study in the country denoting the exact damage of farmlands by the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, the extent must be very high.

“The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in an uncontrolled way is causing severe soil damage,” said Mamunur Rahman, a soil analyst at Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI).

He said private fertiliser companies are luring farmers to applying pesticides for better production. Mamunur suggests research to determine the extent of damage chemical fertilizers and pesticides are causing to arable land.
“We’re encouraging farmers to follow an organic way of producing vegetables which will benefit both farmers and people,” he said.
According to Mamunur, the use of pesticides in the soil kills beneficial organisms.

“There are 607 types of insects found in the country. Only 232 or 38 percent of these are harmful to crops. The rest plays a role in protecting crops by eating harmful insects. But the use of indiscriminate pesticides destroys these beneficial insects,” he said.

Health experts say the farmers who do not wear health protection clothing while using pesticides are affected with various chronic diseases.
"These pesticides enter the body through the farmers’ mouth and nose, infecting them with various diseases like respiratory problems, heart disease, nerve damage and headache,” Dr Shawkat Ali said.

Agriculture officials lay emphasis on use of pesticides in a safe way for protection of humans from its harmful effect.
“The pesticides applied on the land are very toxic. When applying pesticides on the ground, there are rules for wearing masks, gloves and protective clothing. But many don’t follow them,” said Kazi Nurul Alam, Assistant Agriculture Extension Officer.

He suggested that farmers in rural areas need to be trained on safe vegetable farming. He also said the Department of Agriculture has taken initiatives to build safe agricultural villages in many places of the country. “But we want safe vegetable farming to be launched in the whole country.”