Pesticides are widely used in most areas of crop production to minimize infestations by pests and thus protect crops from potential yield losses and reduction of product quality. Hence, they play an essential role in ensuring high profits to farmers, providing reliable supplies of agricultural produce at prices which are affordable to consumers, and also improving the quality of produce in terms of cosmetic appeal which is also important to buyers. Benefits from pesticide use can accrue to a number of different recipients, not only to farmers or consumers, but also to the society. At the same time, there is evidence of both direct and indirect dangers involved in the use of these chemical substances both for humans and the environment. Health impacts from pesticide use are of continuous concern in the European population, requiring a constant evaluation of European pesticide policy.
However, health impacts have never been quantified accounting for specific crops contributing differently to overall human exposure as well as accounting for individual substances showing distinct environmental behavior and toxicity. Although discussions among scientists and the public have repeatedly focused on the real, predicted, and perceived risks that pesticides pose to people and the environment, in reality nobody will ever know with complete certainty that a pesticide is safe or not. Thus, this article aims to provide a review information for understanding the magnitude of pesticide-associated health problems, identifying groups at special risk, knowing which compounds pose special problems, and finding safer alternatives. Throughout, emphasis is placed on the need to balance alarm about the hazards of pesticides with a sound understanding of precise risks and the best ways to prevent them.