Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy. More than 65% of our population depends on agriculture. The agriculture sector is well-developed and grows tropical, sub-tropical and garden crops. Decision-makers and the policy-makers take relevant measures to prevent any losses in this sector.
But these measures are often taken with less regard for their consequences. Pesticides manufactured locally as well as imported are applied to crops for protection against pests.In Pakistan, almost 85% of all pesticides used are insecticides. DDT and Dieldrin are the highly used insecticides belonging to the persistent organochlorine class.
Dieldrin, a chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide is a stereo-isomer of Endrin, present as white crystals or pale tan flakes. It can be odourless or have a mild chemical odour. It has been used in agriculture for the control of soil insects and numerous pest vectors of ailment. The latter practice has been banned in several countries due to environmental and human health concerns. Dieldrin binds strongly to soil particles and may remain in the soil for around 5 years. Its persistence and high lipid solubility provide the necessary conditions for Dieldrin to bio-concentrate and bio-magnify in organisms.
Dieldrin residues have been detected in the physical environment and in the living, including humans. A survey conducted revealed the presence of 40% dieldrin quantity in red chillies. The percentage was found greater in Rawalpindi city. Aldrin readily converts to Dieldrin in the environment and in organisms; the levels of Dieldrin detected likely reflect the total concentrations of both compounds.
Levels of these chemicals build up in the body overtime. Exposure to moderate levels for a long time causes headaches, dizziness, vomiting or uncontrollable muscle movements. They have been determined as likely human carcinogens. Plants are affected only when application rates are higher than recommended use rates.
Dieldrin is highly toxic to most species of fish. Dieldrin’s chemical properties favour a long-range transport. Steps to ban Dieldrin have been taken in many countries including the EU, Singapore, Sweden and Turkey. Its use is strictly restricted in many countries including Pakistan as well.
Imran, Zainab. The uses and effects of dieldrin. Pakistan Observer, April 24, 2017.