International Programme on Chemical Safety

Highly hazardous pesticides

Highly hazardous pesticides may have acute and/or chronic toxic effects, and pose particular risk to children. Their widespread use has caused health problems and fatalities in many parts of the world, often as a result of occupational exposure and accidental or intentional poisonings.

Available data are too limited to estimate the global health impacts of pesticides, however the global impact of self-poisoning (suicides) from preventable pesticide ingestion has however been estimated to amount to 186,000 deaths and 4,420,000 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in 2002.

Environmental contamination can also result in human exposure through consumption of residues of pesticides in food and, possibly, drinking water. While developed countries have systems already in place to register pesticides and control their trade and use, this is not always the case elsewhere. Guidance and legal frameworks on the use, management and trade of pesticides, as well as proper storage and handling, are available from international organizations and international conventions; these should be implemented globally.

Short information documents for decision makers

Tools for action

Norms and guidance values

Fact sheets

WHO Burden of disease estimates