Human Rights Perspective on Pesticide Exposure and Poisoning in Children: A Case Study of India

This paper uses a human rights lens to address the neglected issue of highly hazardous pesticide exposure and poisoning in children, both globally and in India specifically.

Authors: Leah Utyasheva and Lovleen Bhullar
Published in: Health and Human Rights Journal, Volume 23/2, December 2021, pp. 49-61


Pesticide exposure and poisoning among children can lead to devastating long-lasting health effects that impact their human rights, with communities in low- and middle-income countries experiencing the negative impacts of pesticides more profoundly than those in high-income countries.

While United Nations agencies recommend banning highly hazardous pesticides responsible for serious pesticide poisonings, childhood pesticide poisoning is rarely discussed, especially from a human rights perspective. In India, a country with a large population of children and widespread pesticide use, no law or policy addresses pesticide poisoning among children. This lack of prioritization leads to gaps in poisoning surveillance and lack of government action to prevent poisoning, causing violations of children’s rights.

The proposed pesticides ban can reduce pesticide poisoning among children in India, but to fully protect children’s rights, the government needs to establish comprehensive pesticide poisoning surveillance and ensure the mainstreaming of pesticide poisoning prevention into law and policy based on a human rights framework.