Pesticides in the Environment


Pesticide Transport and Fate

Monitoring in the Environment

Methods for Measuring Human Exposure to the Agent

Exposure Pathways

Strategies for Preventing and Controlling Pesticides

Harmful Effects of Alachlor

Dose Response of Alachlor

Absorption, Distribution and Metabolism

Sites of Toxicity

Biomarkers of Disease and Molecular Mechanisms of Action

Risk Assessment

5103/5104 Home

Exposure Pathways

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates 20,000 emergency room visits annually resulting from pesticide exposure. While this number is large, it only represents a small proportion of how pesticide exposure adversely effects human health and well-being such as long term effects and chronic conditions.

Humans can be exposed to pesticides through three main pathways of ingestion, inhalation, or dermal exposure.


Chemicals, such as pesticides, can be swallowed and entered into your digestive track, also known as the alimentary canal, where it can be absorbed directly or transformed and then absorbed into the blood stream.

Pesticides can be directly swallowed by children or even adults, such as occupational workers when they are handling open containers. If the amount is large enough, the resulting poisoning could lead to acute and severe health effects. Pesticides can also be ingested by eating contaminated food such as fruits and vegetables with pesticide residuals or animal products where bioaccumulation may have occurred. Finally, drinking contaminated water may expose you to differing types and amounts of pesticides.


Pesticides can be breathed into the lungs and absorbed into the blood stream. Like unintentional swallowing, pesticides can be inhaled directly in large amounts when the pesticides are being handled or applied by either the applicator or people in the direct vicinity. Along with this direct exposure, pesticides may pollute the outdoor air and may be inhaled by people or by other organisms and bioaccumulate before being consumed by people as discussed above. Finally, personal bug repellants or fumigants used in the home may be inhaled or collect as a residue on food or other surface areas.

Dermal exposure

Although most people think of ‘contact with the skin’, the greatest chance of dermal exposure routes occur in tissue that have mucous membranes, such as the throat, nose, and eyes. But with that said, direct skin contact can be a very serious exposure route for pesticides and furthermore, may contribute to ingestion exposure by contaminating food.


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission