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4 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM

Harms of pesticides and formalin on health

Dr Gulam Rasul
Harms of pesticides and formalin on health

Food is essential for sustaining life. People need nutritious and fresh looking food for good taste. As the population grows increasing demand for food creates both challenges and opportunities for food safety. Due to relatively better economy of Bangladesh people are now consuming more meat, fruits and vegetables compared to a few decades ago.

One of the many issues in food safety is pesticides. There are several types of pesticides that are used by vegetable and fruit growers to protect them from destruction by rodents, insects and weeds. It was stated that the use of pesticides by farmers in Bangladesh have been increased by 328% over the last 10 years. The most commonly used pesticides are Organophosphates, Carbamates and Pyrithroids. Organochlorines that was widely used in the past are still available,

Most farmers in Bangladesh apply pesticides with limited knowledge of its actual requirements and/or effectiveness. There are high frequencies of pesticide application, such as 100-150 times for brinjal cultivation. Farmers usually do not follow waiting period after insecticide application and collect them without interval thus containing pesticide residue on the harvest. Therefore, fruits and vegetables that contain pesticide residue can be health risk for people of all ages. Consumption of pesticide contaminated vegetables and fruits can cause various health problems.  

Different pesticides have different adverse effects on health. Organophosphates cause arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, asthma and chronic cough. It is also known to cause peripheral neuropathy, gradual muscle weakness, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinsonism. Other effects of organophosphates are male and female infertility, male impotency, endometriosis, and spontaneous abortion, delayed brain development of children, autism, spinal defects. Scientists, at the Harvard University of Public Health in an article published in “Pediatrics” in June 2010, disclosed that exposure to organophosphates may contribute to the prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.

 Carbamate pesticides cause neurological, sexual and reproductive dysfunction as well as fetus and child development problems similar to organophosphates. It is also reported to cause colon and skin cancers. Pyrithroids on the other hand have serious harmful effects on sexual and reproductive health including child development. It is frequently mentioned that chronic exposure may cause colon and skin cancers. Organochlorines (e.g. DDT) are reportedly banned in Bangladesh. Similar to Organophosphates it can cause hypertension, arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, asthma, chronic cough, abnormal liver functions, peripheral neuropathy, gradual muscle weakness, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsonism, male and female infertility and male impotency. It is also implicated in large number of cancers in various organs.

Formalin used for preserving fruits, vegetables and fishes is a crucial problem in Bangladesh. Currently local stores and fresh markets often sell vegetables, fruits, and fishes that have been treated with formalin to keep them fresh. Consumption of formalin preserved food can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramp, diarrhea, chest pain, palpitation, and cancer.

Three-fourths of the marketed vegetables, fruits, and fishes contain pesticides and formalin residue. Consumption of these unwashed foods can cause many of the above mentioned diseases. The potential risks could be reduced if these foods are washed to remove chemical residues before consumption. The traditional methods of fresh fruits and vegetables washing include - a) warm water, b) vinegar mixed water, b) potassium permanganate mixed water and c) mild salted water. But these methods are insufficient to remove most of the chemicals and therefore still not safe for human consumption.

The ‘Life and Health’- a Bangladeshi Limited Company started an initiative for supporting Bangladeshi people for food safety culture. In partnership with a Thai Company it has developed “Carbon Green”, a pesticide and formalin removing powder. This Carbon Green has been prepared with activated carbon (15%) and sodium bicarbonate (85%). Both of these ingredients are especially active preparations and certified to be safe for human consumption. This preparation is effective for removing pesticides and formalin by the process of neutralization and adsorption and makes the fresh vegetables, fruits, and fishes up to 90-95% chemical free. Composition and efficiency of the Carbon Green powder was tested by BCSIR (Bangladesh), OMIC, SGS and Kasetsert University laboratories of Thailand.

Every person should have an aim of consuming clean food. Pesticide and formalin free food can prevent relevant diseases as mentioned above especially those affecting unborn and young children as well as life threating cancers, heart diseases for all age group. The Carbon Green is welcome news for Bangladeshis that promises to make our life free from formalin and pesticides.



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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