Table 1

Common pesticides used in tobacco farming

  • One of the most acutely toxic pesticides registered in the USA: its lethal toxicity to humans is in the range of one-hundredth of a gram. In laboratory animals, aldicarb causes chronic damage to the nervous system, suppresses the immune system and adversely affects fetuses. In human cells, aldicarb causes genetic damage. It is also toxic to birds, fish, honeybees and earthworms. Aldicarb's agricultural formulation contains a toxic contaminant, dichloromethane, that causes damage to hearing, vision, kidneys and liver, and is carcinogenic and mutagenic.

ChlorpyrifosA broad-spectrum organophosphate insecticide, chlorpyrifos affects the nervous system by inhibiting an enzyme that is important in the transmission of nerve impulses. Symptoms of acute poisoning include headache, nausea, muscle twitching and convulsions. In addition to acute poisonings, exposure to chlorpyrifos products has also been associated with human birth defects. The pesticide has caused genetic damage in human blood and lymph cells and has also been found to affect the male reproductive system. Chlorpyrifos is known to contaminate air, groundwater, rivers, lakes and rainwater, with residues being found up to 25 km from the site of application.
1,3-D (1,3-dichloropropene, also known as Telone)A highly toxic soil fumigant, 1,3-D causes respiratory problems in humans, as well as skin and eye irritation and kidney damage. 1,3-D causes cancer in laboratory and genetic damage in insects and mammal cells. It leaches through soil easily and has been found in US groundwater, drinking water and rainwater.
  • Adapted from Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Golden leaf barren harvest, the costs of tobacco farming, 2001.2