Agricultural Chemicals

tractor spraying chemicals on a fieldAgricultural chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and nitrogen inhibitors are effective tools for agricultural and horticultural production, as well as gardening and lawn maintenance; however, their use has some consequences. A classic example is the pesticide DDT. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, was first synthesized in 1874, and its insecticide properties were discovered in 1939. It was heavily used towards the end of WWII to control the spread of malaria and typhus. Then it was used in agriculture in the U.S. until 1972 when it was banned. DDT is an environmental and human health hazard because of its persistent affinity to sorb to soil and its propensity to bioaccumulate, especially in predatory birds. In addition, DDT is a developmental and reproductive toxin and a carcinogen.

Modern agricultural chemicals may not have as extreme consequences as DDT, but many can have unintended effects on the environment and human health. ISTC researchers are investigating the environmental impacts of several agricultural chemicals, as well as devising novel solutions to prevent environmental contamination.

worker with canister on his back that contains chemicals he is spraying on the farm fieldworkers putting on personal protective equipment before spraying the field with chemicals

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