Endosulfan Current Affairs - 2019
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The Supreme Court has described side effects of Endosulfan, a highly toxic agrochemical (pesticide) as devastating. It has directed Kerala government to release entire Rs. 500 crore compensation to over 5,000 victims in three months who have suffered from various deformities and health complications due to use of Endosulfan in the state. It also asked the state to consider setting up a centre to provide lifelong medical treatment to all the victims.
The major numbers of victims were reported to be affected in Kasargode (Kerala) after Endosulfan was aerially sprayed by state owned company on cashew plantations adjoining habitats where the victims are located. The apex court in 2011 had passed order to ban the production, distribution and use of endosulfan.
- Endosulfan is a most toxic pesticides having hazardous effects on human genetic and endocrine systems.
- The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2011 added it in list of banned substances and phasing it out as an agrichemical. It is banned in over 80 nations due to its ‘high toxicity.
- It is sprayed as pesticide on crops like cotton, fruits, tea, paddy, cashew, tobacco etc. for control of pests in agriculture such as whiteflies, aphids, beetles, worms etc.
- Hazardous effects: In case of humans it causes delayed reproductive development, autism, bioaccumulation, endocrine disruption (stunting of hormones), long-range contamination, neurotoxicity, long-range contamination and sensory Loss.
- It blocks the inhibitory receptors of the Central Nervous System, disrupts the ionic channels and destroys the integrity of the nerve cells. The spraying of endsosulfan also destroys biodiversity of the area.
Researchers in India for the first time have found that mice and rats exposed to endosulphan suffer from DNA damage and genomic instability, and impaired DNA damage response.
This breakthrough discovery was discovered team of researchers led by Prof. Sathees Raghavan from the Bengaluru based IISc (Department of Biochemistry).
Key Highlights of Research
- When animals get exposed endosulphan, it generates reactive oxygen species in their body which is a potent DNA damaging agent.
- These reactive oxygen species in turn cause DNA damage in the form of breaks in DNA strands. These broken DNA strands generally tend to repair themselves by rejoining.
- But Endosulfan further causes extensive processing of broken DNA leading to increased and long deletion in the strands.
- Endosulfan also increases the damage by altering DNA repair levels by promoting erroneous repair of the broken DNA strands.
- Erroneous repair by rejoining would lead to undesirable genome level changes that may further lead to genomic instability causing cancer and other genetic abnormalities.
- Non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) of the broken ends of broken DNA strands is one of the major mechanism.
- However, in animals exposed to Endosulfan, micro homology mediated end joining (MMEJ) is seen which is enhanced activity of an error-prone and harmful repair mechanism.
What is Endosulfan?
- Endosulfan is an organ chlorine pesticide that induces breaks in DNA strands and disturbs the damage response mechanism found in cells thus leading to compromised DNA strand repair.
- If people who have occupational exposure (mostly related to agriculture) of 2-70 microgram/litre of Endosulfan in blood then genetic abnormality and increased cancer occurrences have been witnessed in them.
- In case of environment, open spraying of Endosulfan causes a disaster on the biodiversity of the area. It leads to decline in plant diversity particularly for native species. Fishes are worst hit.