Tobacco is a multi-million dollar crop in North Carolina, U.S.A. and growers are naturally anxious?
Tobacco is a multi-million dollar crop in North Carolina, U.S.A. and growers are naturally anxious to protect the growing plants from insects which eat leaves.
One of the poisons used to kill the tobacco pests- an insects insecticide called parathion-is as deadly to people as it is to insects.
There are four or five kinds of insects which are addicted to tobacco and the constant spraying campaign to eliminate them has led growers to experiment with new and different chemicals.
Some growers are careful about the pest killers they used because of the possible danger to workers who prime or pick tobacco, but recently five people died after being exposed to parathion.
Parathion is an organic phosphate which enters the skin and destroys the nervous system. It has replaced DDT which is now banned by the U.S. government, and it is so deadly that spraying instructions tell people to stay out of a sprayed field for four or five days.
The chief disease detective for the North Carolina Board of Health has said that he believes parathion is too deadly to be used by people who will not respect his power, and has also said that there is a need to find a substitute pesticide. After this season's trouble, he feels parathion use should be banned in the United States.
People who grow tobacco have generally praised parathion as a good bug-killer. The authorities of the state of North Carolina are not sure of its effects and are beginning a blood-test programme to see how many people who work with tobacco may have mild symptoms of parathion poisoning.
It is agreed, however, that parathion does not damage the cured tobacco lead and does not affect smokers.