Some studies have linked pesticides, especially those containing arsenic, to an increased risk of cancer. This is more worrying for agricultural workers, who have chronic exposure. Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are common lawn care products. Although frequent exposure to the chemicals in these products can have negative effects on a person's health, the average exposure is not enough to increase the risk of cancer.
When it comes to herbicides that cause cancer, the element in question is glyphosate. This chemical can be found in hundreds of herbicides in today's market. And the findings on whether it really is harmful or not have been everywhere. It points to an interesting disconnect between science, public opinion and judicial decisions.
Most studies on non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukemia showed positive associations with pesticide exposure. Some showed dose-response relationships, and some were able to identify specific pesticides. Exposure of children and pregnant women to pesticides was positively associated with cancers studied in some studies, as was parental exposure to pesticides at work. Many studies showed positive associations between pesticide exposure and solid tumors.
The most consistent associations were found for brain and prostate cancer. An association was also found between kidney cancer in children and their parents' exposure to pesticides at work. These associations were more consistent for high and prolonged exposures. Specific weaknesses and inherent limitations were observed in epidemiological studies, in particular with regard to whether and to what extent exposure had occurred.
Thanks to pressure from campus activists, my university replaced 2,4-D with “milder” herbicides and started putting up signs on lawns that had just been sprayed. Of course, 2,4-D is one of the many pesticides in use. According to David Pimentel, Emeritus Professor of Entomology at Cornell University, 110,000 people experience adverse health effects from pesticides every year, and 10,000 cases of cancer in humans can be attributed to pesticide exposure.