Pesticides are substances that are used to control organisms considered undesirable or harmful. They are generally classified into broad categories depending on what they are used for:

  • Insecticides (harmful insect control)
  • Rodenticides (rodent control)
  • Herbicides (weed control)
  • Fungicides (control of plant disease caused by fungi), etc

Pesticides are used mainly in the following sectors:

  • In agriculture, to protect animal and plant production
  • In pest control (extermination), to control harmful organisms inside or outside buildings, for example:
  • In ornamental horticulture and landscape maintenance, to protect trees, shrubs, flowers, lawns, etc

Pesticides can also be useful in the public health sector. They are used, for example, to control mosquitoes that spread West Nile Virus (WNV) or ticks passing on Lyme disease.

Pesticides have toxic effects on living organisms. If they are highly toxic, these products can involve certain risks for health and the environment. They are, however, generally considered safe if they are used judiciously and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more details about what pesticides are made of and what they are used for, go to the All about pesticides page.

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