• Using easily available, inexpensive natural polymers, researchers in Bengaluru have developed a gel for the skin to protect agricultural workers from harmful pesticide sprays.
  • The gel does not just act as a simple physical barrier; it chemically deactivates pesticides.
  • Organophosphate pesticides bring about the inhibition of important enzymes (AChE) of the body, which can, in turn, affect the functioning of nervous system, heart, immunity, and even the reproductive system.
  • The base of the gel is chitosan, a natural substance extracted from the waste shells of crabs and shrimps, to which we added a nucleophile and few aqua reagents to get the consistency and desired pH.”
  • Since pesticides can inhibit enzymes in blood, different experiments were carried out using rat blood to see if the gel could prevent this.
  • The gel was found to cleave a wide range of commercially available pesticides before they enter the bloodstream, thus reducing the pesticide-induced enzyme inhibition.
  • In-vivo studies were carried out using rat models.
  • Even 96 hours after pesticide exposure, the gel-applied rats did not show any reduction in enzyme activity.
  • The control animals (without gel) exposed to pesticides lost about 20% of their body weight by four days, whereas the protected rats had normal weight
  • To understand pesticide-induced mortality, the researchers sprayed a higher concentration of pesticide on the rats for four consecutive days and monitored them.