Insecticides are of chemical and biological origins and are used in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, gardens, homes, and offices. They are also used to control vectors, such as mosquitoes and ticks, which are involved in spreading human and animal diseases. Insecticides constitute a large number of chemical classes and exert toxicity in insects and nontarget mammalian (including humans) and avian species through different mechanisms of action. Insecticides are represented by a variety of different chemical classes involving a variety of mechanisms of toxic action on insects as well as mammals such as humans. Examples of mechanisms of action include metabolic interference of the nervous or muscle systems, desiccation, and sterilization.
What is Sniper insecticide?
Sniper belongs to the DDVP chemical family, 2,2-dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate compound also known as dichlorvos. It is marketed as a synthetic organophosporus specified for use as an agrochemical but many have turned it into an indoor insecticide. One can be exposed to the many risks of DDVP by breathing it in, skin absorption, swallowing it, and eye contact. The Sniper insecticide is very popular because of its effectiveness in driving away insects including bedbugs, mosquitoes, cockroaches and more. However, on the bottle, it is clearly written that it is meant for outdoor use (on farms or greenhouses) and should be mixed with water to reduce the concentration.
According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), the effects of exposure may include irritation of eyes, skin; miosis, eyes pain; rhinorrhea (discharge of thin nasal mucus); headache; chest tightness, wheezing, laryngeal spasm, salivation; cyanosis; anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; sweating; muscle fasciculation, paralysis, dizziness, ataxia; convulsions; low blood pressure, cardiac irregularity.
Harmful Effects Of Sniper (Dichlorvos)
Effects On the Brain and Nerves
According to the EPA, at higher doses than those used to kill insects, this chemical can be harmful to people. Dichlorvos can chemically react with an important enzyme in your brain and nerves called acetylcholinesterase and stop them from working properly. When this happens, signals sent between your nerve cells and to your muscles are disrupted. To understand the harmful effects of dichlorvos that might occur at levels of exposure that people are likely to experience, scientific studies have been done with people and laboratory animals. To protect the public from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals and to find ways to treat people who have been harmed, scientists use many tests.
Effect on Liver
Sniper insecticide can induce autoimmune hepatitis following chronic exposure to dichlorvos. It causes moderate to severe vacuolar degeneration and necrosis of hepatocytes. Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks liver cells . This immune response causes inflammation of the liver, also called hepatitis. The disease can be quite serious and, if not treated, gets worse over time, leading to cirrhosis of the liver and/or liver failure.
It can Cause Cancer
Several animal studies, reported that long term exposure to sniper have the potential to cause cancer. Some study reported significant positive trend of stomach carcinoma and squamous cell papilloma in female mice. There may be no symptoms of stomach cancer early on. Later, symptoms include feeling bloated after eating, feeling full after eating small amounts of food, nausea, heartburn or indigestion.
Effect on Skin
There is evidence from occupational exposures that sniper insecticide active ingredient has the potential to cause skin sensitization. Human diagnostic patch tests of occupational flower growers with a history of pesticide dermatitis have shown an allergic contact dermatitis response to dichlorvos. In contrast to skin irritation, skin sensitization is an immunological response to previous exposure to a substance which results in an inflammatory skin reaction. An allergic skin reaction is usually presented as a red, itchy, bumpy rash. Previous exposure to a specific substance is necessary for skin sensitization.
Effect on Kidney
Animal studies have reported significant increase in activities of catalase, glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase; level of malondialdehyde in kidney tissues; serum level of creatinine and urea nitrogen; level of β2-microglobulin, level of retinol conjugated protein, activities of N-acetyl-β-d-glucosaminidase in urine and significant decrease in uric acid level with renal injury including tubular and glomerular filtration. Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a sudden episode of kidney failure or kidney damage that happens within a few hours or a few days. AKI causes a build-up of waste products in your blood and makes it hard for your kidneys to keep the right balance of fluid in your body.
Respiratory irritation following exposure to sniper insecticide active ingredient was reported in some studies involving children. The study reported strong correlation between acute respiratory symptoms and exposure to dichlorvos. Respiratory irritants refer to any substance which can cause inflammation or other adverse reactions in the respiratory system (lungs, nose, mouth, larynx and trachea). Examples of other respiratory irritants include tobacco smoke, ozone, sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxides.
Sniper Deaths In Nigeria
There are lots of insecticides that contain DDVP chemical, but Sniper insecticide still seems to be the most abused and overused; hence the emphasis. It has been observed that people would rather use Sniper than other well established brands of insecticides because of its supposed effectiveness, the price and their ignorance of the health dangers. Many have being admitted into hospital for using sniper on the hair to kill lice, while the product has become the simplest way for youths to commit suicide.
In recent times, several Nigerian youths have committed suicide at the least provocation including failure in examinations, jilt by loved ones, using Sniper hence the federal government of Nigeria through NAFDAC placed a restriction on the sale and use of the fatal agro-chemical product.