Health Problems of Organophosphates and Carbamates
The organophosphates and carbamates solved the problem of environmental persistence and accumulation associated with organochlorine insecticides, but sometimes at the expense of dramatically increased acute toxicity to the humans and animals who encounter them while the chemicals are still in the active form. These less persistent insecticides—together with the pyrethroids mentioned below—largely replaced organochlorines in residential uses. Organophosphates and carbamates are a particular problem in developing countries, where widespread ignorance about their hazards and failure to use protective clothing—due to lack of information or to the heat—has led to many deaths among agricultural workers. The types of pesticides used in developing countries are also more likely to be highly toxic, even banned elsewhere for that reason. Estimates by the United Nations and the World Health Organization put the number of persons who suffer acute illnesses from short-term exposure to pesticides in the millions annually; 10,000-40,000 die each year from the poisoning, about three-quarters of these in developing countries. Although most of the deaths from pesticide poisonings occur in developing countries, about 20,000 people receive emergency medical care in the United States annually for actual or suspected poisoning from pesticides, and about 30 Americans annually die from it.
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