Our city of Genericville is in a dilemma that is similar to the one faced yearly by numerous other communities. How does the city council strike a common ground between the problem of mosquitoes and its related ailments such as West Nile Virus with the impending health and environment effects due to the use of the Insecticide spray, Malathion? This paper presents the evaluation of the risk in using Malathion based on four-step risk assessment criteria to support my decision against its use in the city of Genericville.
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The first step is hazard identification. This appertains to the evaluation of the potential health risks that may result due to contact with Malathion. Spraying the area with this pesticide may yield to some undesirable health problems.
More research ought to be devoted on the appropriate options of dealing with the problem of mosquitoes, which can transmit the deadly West Nile Virus (WNV). Are the hospitals in this city prepared enough to deliver treatment to individuals facing health problems due to spraying of Malathion if the council were to adopt the application of this pesticide throughout the city? Even though Malathion is toxic, a regular hospital is capable of treating its effects.
According to The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (2009, para.5), it states that “exposure to very high levels of Malathion for a short period in air, water, or food may cause difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, blurred vision, sweating, headaches, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and even death.”
The second step is dose response. This appertains to the level of exposure of Malathion in association to its adverse health effects. At low concentrations, Malathion may cause side effects such as “sweating, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting” (Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 2009).
At high concentrations, it yields to “coma, anxiety, abdominal cramps, and convulsions.” The extent of manifestations of the symptoms depends on the level of exposure to the pesticide. Efforts should be made in controlling these side effects regardless of whether the extent of exposure to these doses is in small or high amounts.
The third step in risk assessment of Malathion pesticide is exposure. This involves the quantity, frequency, and the period of exposure to this deadly pesticide. The extent of contact with Malathion in food and the atmosphere varies in the U.S depending on diverse modes of its application.
Some states apply this pesticide to treat its residents while others apply it to guard their plantations from destruction by insects. The people staying near areas where Malathion is used are more susceptible to exposure. People are exposed to Malathion residues either through direct contact with Malathion plants or consumption of these plants. The period of exposure to this pesticide, can extent for as long as seven days.
Even with adequate education to increase the pubic awareness of the exposure times, it is not realistic to consider its contact with humans impossible. Sprays of Malathion pesticide are often administered in climates that most of the times are hot and are breeding places for insects. This makes humans to be at high risk of exposure to this pesticide. Malathion degrades very fast, hence it is mostly used during the hot season, including during summer all across the United States.
The last risk assessment step is risk characterization. This involves gauging whether some people in the population are at high risk than others. People who seldom follow precautionary principles when dealing with Malathion are more susceptible to its adverse health effects.
The people working in the agricultural fields or other prone areas are at high risk of exposure to this pesticide than the people in the city. This implies that the workers who are actually spraying this pesticide are more susceptible to harm. The Environment Protection Agency has come up with measures to control the level of exposure of this harmful pesticide to humans (2009, para. 1). It has been mandated with the task of re-evaluating the chemical agent to ascertain its safety for use throughout this country.
In summary, I would vote against the implementation of the use of Malathion in the city of Genericville since there is enough evidence to prove that this antidote is detrimental to the human life. As much as we should keep our city free from invasion of these insects, perhaps we can think of adopting other methods of achieving this; for example, using the natural pesticide ‘’pyrethrum” that is capable of controlling mosquitoes with no adverse environmental or human health effects (Sinclair & Pressinger, n.d).
Regardless of the fact that many cities across the United States have implemented its use, it is my strong conviction that we can control the invasion of these insects by education the residents of this city together with our visitors. All of us have to come to terms with the reality that we are not secluded in this ecosystem. My judgment may be harsh to some of the council members, but it is in order for us to consider all the economic, ecological, and social aspects before implementing the use of Malathion in this unique city.
Sinclair, W., & Pressinger, R. Malathion Medical Research. Web.
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The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2009). Toxic Substances Portal-Malathion. Web.
The environment protection agency. (2009). Malathion for mosquito control. Web.