Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by kristina. kristina Wonders, “What are pesticides made out of?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, kristina!

Do you know anyone who grows a garden? Growing your own food can be rewarding. Freshly ripe fruits and vegetables are so tasty. However, we’re not the only ones who love our fresh fruits and vegetables. Pests love them, too!

When you’re growing food, pests can ruin the day. They nibble on stalks and leaves. They dig up roots. They even steal fresh fruit right off the vine! To protect gardens and farms, many people use pesticides. These fight the insects, rodents, weeds, and anything else that attacks our food.

Many people WONDER what pesticides are made from. Every pesticide we use has both active and inert ingredients. The active ingredient targets a type of pest. For instance, active ingredients in weed killers kill only weeds. They leave any other plants in the garden alive. This makes them useful because you can spray a weed killer without worrying about killing your fruits and vegetables.

However, pesticides also have inert ingredients. They make up as much as 95 percent of the pesticide. To save trade secrets, pesticide makers don’t have to tell buyers what these inert ingredients are. However, we do know some of the ingredients used. For example, some pesticides use creosols. These cause eye irritation, blindness, kidney failure, and other issues. They’re listed by the US government as hazardous, but they are allowed in pesticides.

You can see why many people worry about pesticides. They’re meant to fend off pests, but some of their ingredients are also harmful to people. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says pesticides are safe. They claim the dangers of pests are much worse. Pests can spread diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Some pests even lead to asthma and allergies. Worse yet, pests destroy the food we work hard to grow. Are the dangers of pesticides worth it?

Pesticides increase crop growth. When farmers and gardeners lose fewer plants to pests, they make more money. Of course, this also helps consumers. There’s more food to go around, which lowers prices. More importantly, it keeps more people fed.

Still, many people dislike the use of pesticides. Besides the health risk to humans, pesticides hurt the environment. When we spray pesticides on plants, they can spread through soil and water. Once spread, pesticides can kill birds, fish, and helpful insects. They also hurt soil fertility, making it harder to grow future crops.

The EPA judges the safety of each pesticide every fifteen years. Only pesticides it calls safe for humans are sold. In recent years, the EPA has banned many pesticides from use. It has also worked to lower the amount of residual pesticide left on our food.

If you choose to use a pesticide, always follow the directions on the label. Don’t ever spray on a windy or rainy day. This will help stop the pesticide from spreading to other places. And, of course, always wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them.

Some people try to avoid pesticides by eating organic fruits and vegetables. They also grow their own food and use other methods of pest control. Even with these precautions, avoiding pesticides is very difficult due to their widespread use.

Are pesticides safe? The EPA says yes. If you’re worried, try buying food from a farmers’ market. You could even try growing your own fruits and vegetables! Plant a few seeds in a sunny place, either in the ground or in pots. You’d be surprised at what can come from a small pack of seeds and a little bit of dirt.


Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day may make your head spin!