Pesticides are beneficial because there is less crop loss to bugs. This yields more food, more profit for the farmer, and less waste of land, time, farm equipment use and water for irrigation. However, water that contains pesticides runs off of agricultural areas and contaminates groundwater and the ocean affecting the health of humans and the environment. There can also be health concerns to humans directly from the consumption of pesticide-containing produce and especially for the people spraying the crops with pesticides. Bioaccumulation is the accumulation of pollutants in the organs of fish and animals. It is a problem for humans because when we eat fish, we ingest these same pollutants, like pesticides. Too many servings of fish per week and pesticides can accumulate in our bodies and cause diseases. The process of bioaccumulation starts when pesticides applied to agricultural land runoff during storms into rivers, streams and eventually the ocean. The pesticides become part of the water column and fish ingest the pesticides, usually through their gills, although sometimes through their fish scales. The pesticides go into their organs and fat tissue and are sequestered there. More and more pesticides are ingested and stored in organs and tissues as fish get oxygen from the water column for survival. These accumulated pesticides accumulate up the food chain as big fish eat little fish and eventually as humans eat the fish. They Law of Conservation of Mass/Energy applies here because it goes to show that the pesticide doesn’t just “disappear” or “dissolve” when it runs off a field. It is accumulated somewhere, in this case it is in the top of the food chain.
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