Monday, May 16, 2011

Endosulfan : A brief report.

One of the hot topics in today's debates is the 'Ban on Endosulfan'. In a developing country like India where endosulfan tragedy occured in Kerala, even common people are seriously discussing the effects of this killer pesticide. The usage of this colourless solid agrochemical may lead us to illness and then to severe crisis.
Endosulfan is mainly used for the elimination of insects. Endosulfan will badly affect the nerve system of the insects and mammals including humans. In Kerala, it is mainly used in cashew plantations. By 2011, more than 80 countries have banned endosulfan including some countries that declared its complete phase out. The world's most populous countries China and India are still using endosulfan in large quantities.
Endosulfan is one of the cheapest and toxic fertilizer easily available in the market. In 1980, about 9000 tonnes of endosulfan was produced annually. By 1980-89 it increases to 10500 tonnes per year. By 1990s it again increased to 12800 tonnes per year. India is the largest user of endosulfan in the world with three major producing companies - Excel CropCare, Hindusthan Insecticides Limited, Coromandel Fertilizers. India produces 4500 tonnes annually for the domestic use and 4000 tonnes for export.

In humans endosulfan mainly affects the endocrine glands thus by affecting sexual growth and physical development. Small doses of endosulfan through food for long tern may cause health problems. Loss of bodily control, difficulty in breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and in severe cases unconsciousness are the symptoms of endosulfan poisoning. In a study conducted in Kasargode district in Kerala(India), it was found that endosulfan affects the production of testosterone hormone which causes delayed sexual maturity in male children. Woman had to undergo several abortions in order to avoid giving birth to handicapped children.
The endosulfan splits in to endosulfan sulfate and endosulfan diol. These two have almost same properties as that of the endosulfan and takes 9 months to 6 years to degrade. Endosulfan can spread to distant areas through air and water.
The above said are the reasons that are commonly put forward by the authorities who want to ban this killer pesticide endosulfan. Now let us look in to the argument put forward by the supporters of endosulfan. There are rules and guidelines regarding the the use of every pesticide put forward by the government as well as the manufacturer. These rules must be strictly followed while using these pesticide in order to avoid toxic effects to the humans as well as to the environment. The violation of these rules and guidelines resulted in the tragedy in Kasargode district. For example, while spraying endosulfan using helicopter, the helicopter must be just above the canopy level of the plantation. Due to the passage of electric lines just above the canopy level, the helicopter sprayed endosulfan a few meters above the canopy level. This caused the endosulfan to spread to the nearby areas. More over there are water bodies which serves as the source of water for the majority of the villagers get polluted. The plantation workers were unaware of the effects caused by the endosulfan and the were not provided protective masks. This phenomenon continued to about ten years. The authorities also didn't make a public announcement before the application of the endosulfan. This causes more villagers to get exposed to endosulfan. One more argument in support for the endosulfan is that it is one of the cheapest pesticide that is available easily in the market and consumption of small quantities of endosulfan through food for short duration do not have any health risks(not proved).
After the Bhopal tragedy, endosulfan tragedy remains in second place in magnitude. In 2001, then Kerala Chief Minister, A K Antony banned endosulfan in Kerala State. Karnataka and Madya Pradesh states in India have already called for the ban on endosulfan. The Stockholm Convention on 29 April 2011 imposed ban on endosulfan. The ban will come to effect from the mid 2012. Some uses are exempted from the ban for next five years. The Supreme Court of India recently imposed a temporary ban on endosulfan.

1 comment:

  1. One has to understand the problem. Instead of blaming the chemical, we should be blame the reckless usage (Indiscriminately excessive spray over the hills). Those perpetrators and the authorities, what have the allowed the contamination should be booked. Even the officials/ scientists who have failed to forewarn and recommend stringent controls, shall be censured.
    If trucks are crushing people on the roads:
    Who shall take the blame?
    1. Vehicle Manufacturers>
    2. Authorities who are not governing properly?
    3. Calcitrant, negligent pedestrains/ road users
    4. Hapless Victims?
    5. Reckless Drivers?