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Human Health Risk Assessment

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Submitted By NEdge001
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Human Health Risk Assessment
October 6, 2014

Human Health Risk Assessment

The use of Permethrin and Saccharin are highly argued as dangerous. Both chemicals have been proven to have long lasting effects on the body that in some cases could lead to death. Permethrin is an insecticide. Permethrin common uses are in the battle against mosquitoes. Permethrin has also been used on crops and other forms of vegetation to combat insect destruction (NPIC, 2009). Permethrin also has many other uses that the average consumer or user may be unaware of, they include in dog and cat flea collars, and head lice applications (NPIC, 2009) Saccharin is an artificial sweetener used in beverages such as diet sodas, and it can also be used as a sugar replacement in cookies and cakes. The use of saccharin had a huge push by many vendors when the fight against obesity and the urge for healthy living started to become popular. During the 1970’s Saccharin was labeled by the FDA as possibly causing bladder cancer in rats during testing (NCI, 2014). Upon further testing it was later removed from the list of known agents that would cause cancer and moved to the list of possible cancer causing agents (NCI, 2014). Saccharin was removed by President Bill Clinton from the list of possible cancer causing agents in 2000 but still remains under a cloud of doubt to this day because of all the possible negative effects and the definitive effects experienced by lab rats.

The Environmental Protection Agency has done a vast amount of research on the use of Permethrin and the dangers it presents to humans, insects, and fish. Permethrin is a member of the Pyrethroid family, as such this means that when Permethrin comes into contact with either humans, insects or fish, it will attack the organism nervous system doing a vast amount of damage. Because of these dangers in the agent was only given a limited use permit by the EPA in 1979 and it was only to be used on cotton farms (EPA, 2006). The limited use right was given with the understanding that further research must be done by the EPA in order to understand all the dangers of the toxin. Later, testing of Permethrin proved the agent to be very deadly to fish and other wildlife. An additional amount of crops were eventually allowed to have Permethrin used on them but it was only in a limited form.

Saccharin use and its effects on the body have been explored by the Food and Drug Administration. As noted above, the use of Saccharin did show to cause the formation of bladder cancer in lab rats in the 1970’s. It was because of this fact that the FDA immediately put the artificial sweetener onto a banned list of substances. Upon further review the United States Congress actually over rode the Food and Drug Administration when doubts were put into place in regard to the effects of the artificial sweetener on humans (ENHS, 2005). This overriding of the ban still stands today and many people still use the possibly dangerous sweetener. It is very important to note that Sodium Saccharin still remains on the list of known carcinogens. Sodium Saccharin is an extract in salt form of Saccharin (ENHS, 2005).

Applying the risk assessment to these two chemicals can aid a person in their decision to use either Permethrin or saccharin on a daily basis. The hazards that are present with Permethrin are damage to the nervous system and possible poisoning of crops. There is also the possibility of poisoning of waterways leading to the death of many fish species. Dose response modeling shows us that only very low levels of Permethrin are needed to alter the nervous system or poison water ways. Probability of exposure and damage that could be done by Permethrin is high if not strongly monitored and all aspects of use are not strongly enforced. A scenario that would be realistic and have strong implications would be, a farmer uses Permethrin on his crops. The Permethrin is carried to a local stream by rain water and watering of crops. The Permethrin is then carried by the stream to larger waterways affecting all organisms that come into contact with it. When we apply the same model to the use of Saccharin the data becomes a little less clear. This is due to the fact that there is not clear facts present as to its dangers. Many scientist argue that the results found in the study of saccharin use in rats does not apply to what could happen with humans. However, one must only look to sodium saccharin to see the possibility of danger (ENHS, 2005). The risk associate with Saccharin would be the possible cancer causing ability. The EPA has stated that Saccharin when used in the level of 12 milligrams per one ounce of fluid is safe for use (FDA, 2014). Because the information is still inconclusive about the definite effects of saccharin it is hard to list the exact risk characterization of saccharin. If found to be a carcinogen, it would definitely raise the level of probability of leading to cancer. Many people worldwide use saccharin as a substitute to natural sugars. This would raise the level of exposure and thus raise the amount of people who have come into contact with the possibly dangerous additive. What is alarming is that it is known that certain forms of saccharin are carcinogenic, this coupled with the fact that the FDA research of the additive seems to be stalled leads to great concern and doubt in regard to the safety of use of this additive.

The practical implications of the risk assessment lead to the use of caution and restraint in regard to the use of both agents. Permethrin has been proven to be toxic and can lead to many possible negative outcomes including the poisoning of humans and waterways. Caution and very precise monitoring should be used to ensure that this dangerous chemical is not mis-used or allowed to come into contact with wildlife that it is not intended for. In a scenario where this chemical must be used it would require the application team as well as monitors to ensure that subsequent areas are not being affected and causing second and third order effects. It is my opinion that no matter the controls that are put into place that second and third order effects cannot be avoided. The practical implications in regard to the use of saccharin are a little different. Because the evidence is still out in regard to how dangerous the additive is it is hard to form an educated opinion. It is easy to say that the additive is safe and it is easy to say that it isn’t. The fact remains that science and effective application of the scientific method is the only thing that can tell us the true effects of saccharin. Therefore, if someone were to continue to use the additive then I would venture to say that it would be at their own risk.

When historical data is looked at we see very clear facts about the use of Permethrin. All data in regard to its use shows that it is dangerous and we as a society should be very cautious in its use if not outlawing its use all together. There are just too many possible negative outcomes that could and will come into play when it is applicated to crops for use as an insecticide. Historical data in regard to saccharin should provide us a sense of caution. Early tests of saccharin showed that the additive caused cancer of the bladder in rats. Later tests showed that rat bladders and human bladders were different and thusly would not process or store the saccharin in the same way. It is with this knowledge though that we the consumers should utilize a sense of caution. If we as consumers know that an additive can and does cause such a negative effect in an animal than it is probably a safe assumption that there will be some negative aspect that will be discovered at a later time. The data regarding the study or saccharin in rats does directly correlate to human consumption of saccharin. It should serve as an alarm or beacon that warns us of possible dangers that could lie ahead for humans if they decide to consume such products.

The effects of Permethrin and Saccharin are not the same. Permethrin has been proven beyond the shadow of doubt to have harmful effects on the nervous system of animals and humans. It has been proven that if measures are not put into place that Permethrin can find its way into the food we eat and the water we drink. Every step must be taken to ensure the safety of our food and drinking water as well as the protection of our natural resources. The jury is still out on saccharin. Saccharin was shown to cause cancer in lab rats but scientists stated that the same effects would not be felt by humans, this is due to rats and humans bodies processing the additive in different ways. The negative effects felt by rats coupled with the ongoing research being done by agencies such as the Food and Drug administration should lead to a level of caution. Caution and thought should be given before the ingestion of this sugar substitute.

ENHS. (2005). Saccharin. Retrieved 6 October 2014 from:

Environmental Protection Agency. (2006). Permethrin Facts. Retrieved 6 October 2014 from:

National Cancer Institute. (2009). Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer. Retrieved 5 October 2014 from:

NPIC. (2009). Permethrin. Retrieved 5 October 2014 from:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2014). Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. Retrieved 6 October 2014 from:

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