Pesticides In The Urban Environment

Pesticides In The Urban Environment

What Is The Impact Of Dangerous Pesticide?

Impacts of pesticides in the environment

There is no doubt that pesticides work wonders in preventing the spread of insect pests that can negatively impact wildlife and agriculture. However, there are dangers about these products that should be observed and avoided.

Over the years, the impact of pesticides in major cities has been an area of great concern. In Australian state of New South Wales, pesticide use is controlled by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). Local exterminator, Adam Love from Pro Pest Control Sydney says certain products have proven to be dangerous and have even been banned in particular parts of the country. Meanwhile, a whole slew of healthy, green alternatives have popped up in the market place and have become more and more popular for city governments and consumers as well.

What is the impact of dangerous pesticides and what is being done to combat the damage they can do in big cities?

Impact of pesticides in the urban environment

Pesticides are undeniably very helpful to keep plants and food safe from pests that could spread filth, disease, and death. Over the last few generations, pesticides have worked wonders for the way that we grow, store, and consume our food. However, it cannot be ignored that they can also be very dangerous to humans and animals if used in the wrong way.

Pesticides are poisonous substances that are released into the environment on purpose. Despite the fact that each pesticide is designed to kill a specific bug, a considerable percentage of pesticides end up somewhere other than their intended target. When pesticides flow off from fields, leave storage tanks, are not properly removed, and are sprayed aerially, they can readily pollute the air, land, and water. You can read more about the Regulatory Impact Statement Proposed Pesticides Regulation of 2009 here.

What impact do pesticides have on urban areas in our country?


Ground water, streams, rain, rivers, lakes, and seas all contain pesticides.

Pesticides can enter the water in four different ways. It has the potential to drift outside of the spraying area, seep through the soil, be transported as runoff, or be spilled accidently.

Pesticide concentrations in some samples of river water and groundwater exceed limits allowed for drinking water, according to official studies.


The process of nitrogen fixation, which is required for the growth of many big plants, is hampered by pesticides prevalent in the soil. Crop yields might plummet as a result of this. When pesticides are applied to blooming crops, honeybees, which serve as pollinators, are killed. Pollination and reproduction of crops are also reduced as a result of this.


Pesticide residues that stay on food after spraying can harm animals. Pesticides applied to a specific region might destroy food supplies that some animals require, forcing them to relocate, modify their diet, or starve. Pesticide poisoning can also go up the food chain, causing damage to birds who eat insects and worms that have been exposed to pesticides.


The usage of pesticides reduces the soil’s overall biodiversity. Minus chemicals, soil quality improves, allowing for greater water retention, which is essential for plant growth.

Fish and Aquatic Life

Pesticide-contaminated water may affect fish and other aquatic biota. Herbicides used in bodies of water can kill vegetation, reducing oxygen levels in the water and smothering fish. Certain pesticides can produce physiological and behavioral changes in fish that diminish population size, such as nest abandonment, disease immunity, and greater inability to evade predators, when exposed repeatedly.

The issues that arise from using certain pesticides in cities is definitely a concern that needs to be addressed. In recent years, jurisdictions across the country have cracked down on the most unhealthy and dangerous pesticide products, such as Roundup. In fact, major cities have waged an all-out war against Roundup and demanded safer alternatives.

Reactions to Roundup


Since its introduction by Monsanto in 1974, the active chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, has helped produce food and eradicate weeds. Its popularity skyrocketed in the 1990s, when Monsanto started selling specially developed crop seeds, such as soybeans, canola, and maize, that could tolerate the herbicide when sprayed on nearby weeds. The company’s glyphosate patent expired in 2000, and other businesses joined the market. Currently, glyphosate is found in hundreds of products sold in the United States.

In the years that followed, public concern over glyphosate’s safety rose, prompting the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer to evaluate the scientific data. It rated glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in a 2015 analysis based on the most trustworthy animal research available at the time. Since then, many who have been diagnosed with non-lymphoma Hodgkin’s have sued Monsanto, which is now controlled by Bayer, blaming their sickness on glyphosate exposure.

Jury Rulings and City Pushback

Each time a jury has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, Bayer has been forced to pay millions of dollars in damages. Bayer claims that the chemical is non-carcinogenic and may be used safely. However, it just stated that it will invest $5.6 billion in the development of glyphosate-free Roundup alternatives.


Cities such as Seattle are taking a defensive position against glyphosate in the light of conflicting facts and court judgements.

In 2019, Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an executive order banning the use of glyphosate-containing herbicides by Seattle city agencies.

Glyphosate is designated as a last-resort option in the executive order, only to be used to combat the very worst weeds—weeds that the state compels the city to remove—after all other options have been explored. Some of the initial lines of defense include mowing, mulching, and a plant-killing fungus known as rust. Herbicides with the active components triclopyr and imazapyr, for example, can also be employed.

When Seattle officials considered reducing glyphosate use, they sought help from the city of San Francisco, which began enacting chemical pesticide limits in 1997. Seattle isn’t alone; glyphosate usage has lately been restricted in a number of locations across the United States. The chemical was prohibited in Portland, Maine, in 2018 and limited in Austin, Texas. This year, the cities of Miami and Los Angeles adopted their own property prohibitions. On an unofficial basis, certain cities, such as Boston, shun glyphosate. Others, like New York City, may be on the verge of outlawing it in the near future.

New York City

Meanwhile, in 2015, members of the New York City Council filed legislation to prohibit glyphosate and all other chemical pesticides from city parks, shortly after the World Health Organization declared it dangerous. During the hearing, scores of schoolchildren packed City Hall to express their support for the bill. The bill was defeated, but it was reintroduced a few months later, just as the EPA declared the chemical safe.

Years later, in 2021, the City Council of New York outright banned the use of chemical pesticides on city properties, meaning that many of the products used before would not be allowed in some major places, such as Central Park. The legislation passed was mostly aimed at the elimination of glyphosate and required that all city agencies use only biological or naturally derived pesticides to control pests and extensive weed growth.

Alternatives to Toxic Pesticides

Pest Control Alternatives

It might feel like all pesticides are bad but that’s simply not the truth. In fact, there are a lot of healthy and environmentally-friendly alternatives that cities across the country are embracing. As the Roundup controversy swept throughout the nation, the entire pesticide industry took note and continued to make progress to make less toxic products.

For a variety of reasons, some pesticides may be regarded as less hazardous. They should, on average, represent a lower risk to human and environmental health than traditional pesticides. Many of them degrade quickly and do not build up in the body or the ecosystem. A few are pest-specific and do little or no harm to other living things. Others, such as bait stations, help to reduce human exposure to pesticides.


Cities across the country are investing in botanical insecticides. Botanical insecticides are poisons derived from plants that naturally exist. Botanical pesticides have various benefits over synthetic insecticides. Insecticides generated from plants degrade swiftly in the environment, posing low risk of residues on food crops and posing little damage to beneficial insects. Some materials can be used right up until harvest time.

The majority of botanicals are fast-acting, and the majority, but not all, of them are low to moderately hazardous to mammals. The insect pest must consume the majority of botanical pesticides. As a result, they are mostly damaging to pests and have minimal effect on beneficial insects.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are another form of pesticide that cities are now using as they move away from toxic alternatives like Roundup. Essential oils are extremely concentrated liquids taken from plant components that are very volatile. The Environmental Protection Agency decided in 1996 that some compounds that pose a low risk to consumers do not need EPA certification to be sold as pesticides.

Essential oils, such as geranium, citronella, cedar, cinnamon, citrus, clove, eugenol,,garlic, mints, rosemary, thyme, and others, make up a number of these substances. These pesticides often function as contact-killing substances only, which means that often re-treatment is necessary. The majority of pesticides act by disrupting an insect neurotransmitter that isn’t found in humans, pets, or other vertebrates.

Companies such as Dr. Earth, Maggie’s Farm, Monterey, Essentia, Wondercide, and many more offer these essential oil products to consumers and city governments. They are indeed becoming more and more popular as a greater emphasis is placed on only using pesticides that will be good for cities and the citizens living within them.

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