Pesticide Use Statistics

Both the volume of pesticides used and the amount of money spent on pesticides demonstrate our dependency on these chemicals.

Amount of Pesticides Used in the US and Worldwide

The EPA reported that 4.9 billion pounds of pesticide products were used in the United States in 2001, which is equivalent to 4.5 pounds per person. Approximately 888 million pounds of active ingredients and 600 different chemical compounds were included in these pesticides. The agriculture industry used about 675 million pounds of pesticide active ingredient (76% of total active ingredients used) and 102 million pounds (11.5%) were used on lawns and gardens by homeowners and by government and general industry. Another 2.6 billion pounds were used in disinfectants, and 0.80 billion pounds were used for wood preservatives.

Worldwide, about 5.05 billion pounds of pesticide active ingredient were used in agriculture in 2001.

Pesticide Use in the United States (2001 estimates)

Type

Billions of Pounds 

Percentage

Conventional pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.)

0.89

17.7

Other pesticide chemicals (sulfur, petroleum oil, etc.)*

0.32

6.4

Wood preservatives

0.8

16.1

Specialty biocides (antimicrobial pesticides)

0.35

7.2

Chlorine/hypochlorites (used in water disinfection)

2.61

52.5

TOTAL

4.97

100

*This category is defined by EPA as follows: "The pesticides in this group include sulfur and petroleum oil and other chemicals used as pesticides, such as sulfuric acid, insect repellants (e.g., DEET), moth control products (e.g., paradichlorobenzene), and others."
Source: EPA Pesticides Industry Sales and Usage 2000 and 2001 Market Estimates, Table 3.3 (2004)

US and Global Expenditures

In 2001, total expenditures for pesticides in the U.S. were $11.09 billion, of which $7.4 billion was spent by the agricultural industry. Worldwide, the cost of pesticides used for agriculture in 2001 was US$31.8 billion.

Home Use of Pesticides

Home use of pesticides is widespread, and unfortunately there are many examples of home poisoning with pesticides. Consumers who use pesticides often apply them at much greater rates per acre than do farmers and professional pesticide applicators. Children are at particularly increased risk to pesticides that have been tracked in from outdoors as well as from pesticides that are used inside the home.

Efforts to Reduce Exposure and Use

Increased understanding of the possible health and environmental effects of pesticides is driving the demand for tighter regulation of pesticides use and is motivating efforts to reduce exposures, especially to children. Some communities are moving to ban the use of pesticides on lawns and landscaping, along roadsides to control weeds, and in and near schools, among other initiatives. People worldwide are recognizing the effects of pesticides on water quality and the health of wildlife, and there is increasing awareness of occupational hazards, especially to workers in developing nations. While pesticides may be needed to help protect crops and control indoor pests, they need to be used prudently and with knowledge of their potential harm. We need to continue to reduce unnecessary pesticide use, find safer and more selective pest management tools, and protect sensitive populations from exposure.

Next: Biological Properties of Insecticides

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