A pesticide is a substance used to control or repel animals or plants that are considered to be pests. There are different types of pesticides for different purposes:
What's in a pesticide?
Pesticide products contain active ingredients and inert ingredients. The active ingredient is the main chemical that kills the target -- whether it's a plant, insect, or animal. Inert ingredients are less important, but help with product performance and usability.
There are several categories of active ingredients, including biopesticides (derived from natural compounds) and antimicrobial (supress growth of harmful microorganisms).
Some functions of inert ingredients are to improve safety for the applicator, extend the product's shelf life, and act as a solvent.
Effects of pesticides
Pesticides can cause immediate health effects, or long-term ones that may not be apparent until years later. Immediate health effects include irritation and nausea, and long-term ones include cancer, birth defects, reproductive issues, and brain damage. Children are more susceptible to the effects of pesticides because they're still developing.
In addition to affecting humans, pesticides also have a major impact on the environment. Events like the bat and frog die-offs and the collapse of bee colonies have been directly linked to the usage of neonicotinoid pesticides. These pesticides accumulate in the soil and harm animals' immune systems and limit soil nutrients.
What you can do
Though the effects of pesticides are globally recognized, their usage is not slowing down anytime soon. To reduce your risk of harm from pesticides, there are some steps you can take: