A man sprays pesticides on a field in the Punjab region of northwest India. Scientists believe that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems in rural communities.
A man sprays pesticides on a field in the Punjab region of northwest India. Scientists believe that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems in rural communities.

(Left) Farmers prepare a fertiliser to sprayed onto nearby fields. (Right) A used bag of insecticide lies discarded in a field.
(Left) Farmers prepare a fertiliser to sprayed onto nearby fields. (Right) A used bag of insecticide lies discarded in a field.

A farmer holds micronutrient fertiliser before adding it to water to spray on his fields. It is believed that excessive pesticide and fertiliser use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems in rural communities.
A farmer holds micronutrient fertiliser before adding it to water to spray on his fields. It is believed that excessive pesticide and fertiliser use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems in rural communities.

A farmer sprays pesticides onto crops in the Malwa region of Punjab. Increased use of pesticides and insecticides has helped increase crop yields however it has also led to sever health issues in local communities.
A farmer sprays pesticides onto crops in the Malwa region of Punjab. Increased use of pesticides and insecticides has helped increase crop yields however it has also led to sever health issues in local communities.

A farmer washes vegetables in a water channel next to fields that have just been sprayed with pesticides. This is one of the vectors which allows pesticides to enter the food chain.
A farmer washes vegetables in a water channel next to fields that have just been sprayed with pesticides. This is one of the vectors which allows pesticides to enter the food chain.

A man sells vegetables at the side of the road in a town in Punjab. Many locally grown vegetables are sold directly to the residents of small communities in Punjab, as well as being exported to other parts of the country.
A man sells vegetables at the side of the road in a town in Punjab. Many locally grown vegetables are sold directly to the residents of small communities in Punjab, as well as being exported to other parts of the country.

Farmers harvesting cotton in the Malwa region of Punjab. Increased use of pesticides and insecticides has helped increase crop yields however it has also led to sever health issues in local communities.
Farmers harvesting cotton in the Malwa region of Punjab. Increased use of pesticides and insecticides has helped increase crop yields however it has also led to sever health issues in local communities.

Balkaur Singh (52) holds a portrait of his late mother Mukhtyar Kaur, who died in 2013 of breast and liver cancer, aged 75. It is believed that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems including cancers, birth defects and mental disabilities in children. It's a hidden epidemic which is gripping the Punjab region in northeast India which for decades has been the country's 'bread basket'.
Balkaur Singh (52) holds a portrait of his late mother Mukhtyar Kaur, who died in 2013 of breast and liver cancer, aged 75. It is believed that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems including cancers, birth defects and mental disabilities in children. It’s a hidden epidemic which is gripping the Punjab region in northeast India which for decades has been the country’s ‘bread basket’.

Sukhbeer Kaur (19) holds a portrait of her father, Pippal Singh, who died in 2010 of cancer, aged 40. It is believed that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems including cancers, birth defects and mental disabilities in children. It's a hidden epidemic which is gripping the Punjab region in northeast India which for decades has been the country's 'bread basket'.
Sukhbeer Kaur (19) holds a portrait of her father, Pippal Singh, who died in 2010 of cancer, aged 40. It is believed that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems including cancers, birth defects and mental disabilities in children. It’s a hidden epidemic which is gripping the Punjab region in northeast India which for decades has been the country’s ‘bread basket’.

Daukhi Valmaki (50) holds a portrait of her late husband who died in 2007 from throat cancer, aged 60. It is believed that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems including cancers, birth defects and mental disabilities in children. It's a hidden epidemic which is gripping the Punjab region in northeast India which for decades has been the country's 'bread basket'.
Daukhi Valmaki (50) holds a portrait of her late husband who died in 2007 from throat cancer, aged 60. It is believed that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems including cancers, birth defects and mental disabilities in children. It’s a hidden epidemic which is gripping the Punjab region in northeast India which for decades has been the country’s ‘bread basket’.

Harmangod Singh (6) sits next to a portrait of his mother, Charnajeet Kaur, who died in 2010 of brain cancer, aged only 31. It is believed that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems including cancers, birth defects and mental disabilities in children. It's a hidden epidemic which is gripping the Punjab region in northeast India which for decades has been the country's 'bread basket'.
Harmangod Singh (6) sits next to a portrait of his mother, Charnajeet Kaur, who died in 2010 of brain cancer, aged only 31. It is believed that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems including cancers, birth defects and mental disabilities in children. It’s a hidden epidemic which is gripping the Punjab region in northeast India which for decades has been the country’s ‘bread basket’.

A woman washes clothes in a drainage channel next to agricultural fields.
A woman washes clothes in a drainage channel next to agricultural fields.

A young child doing yoga as part of therapeutic treatment at the Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot, Punjab.
A young child doing yoga as part of therapeutic treatment at the Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot, Punjab.

(Left) A disabled boy receives special therapy aimed to relax him, as part of therapeutic treatment at the Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot, Punjab. (Right) A young girl undergoes yoga treatment at the same centre.
(Left) A disabled boy receives special therapy aimed to relax him, as part of therapeutic treatment at the Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot, Punjab. (Right) A young girl undergoes yoga treatment at the same centre.

A young child during a play session at the Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot, Punjab.
A young child during a play session at the Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot, Punjab.

Shimla Bai, 11, sits in her classroom in the village of Teejaruhela on the India-Pakistan border. Shimla has been blind since birth and is one of many children in the village who suffer from development health issues.
Shimla Bai, 11, sits in her classroom in the village of Teejaruhela on the India-Pakistan border. Shimla has been blind since birth and is one of many children in the village who suffer from development health issues.

A young child screams in pain during a yoga session, as part of therapeutic treatment at the Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot, Punjab.
A young child screams in pain during a yoga session, as part of therapeutic treatment at the Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot, Punjab.

Gurucharan Singh, 15, is assisted by his mother outside their home in the village of Teejaruhela. Like many children in the village, Gurucharan suffers from cerebral palsy and intellectual disability.
Gurucharan Singh, 15, is assisted by his mother outside their home in the village of Teejaruhela. Like many children in the village, Gurucharan suffers from cerebral palsy and intellectual disability.

Chiman Singh, 50, outside of his home in the village of Teejaruhela on the India-Pakistan border. He suffers from severe arsenic and heavy metal poisoning. He is one of many in his village suffering from severe health issues believed to be caused by excessive pesticide use in the region.
Chiman Singh, 50, outside of his home in the village of Teejaruhela on the India-Pakistan border. He suffers from severe arsenic and heavy metal poisoning. He is one of many in his village suffering from severe health issues believed to be caused by excessive pesticide use in the region.

A cow stands outside a small farmhouse in the rural Punjab region in north-west India. Scientists believe that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems in rural communities. Problems can also be seen in many of the local animals.
A cow stands outside a small farmhouse in the rural Punjab region in north-west India. Scientists believe that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems in rural communities. Problems can also be seen in many of the local animals.

Shinda Singh (left) sits with his wife Jaswanda Kaur, in their bedroom in the village of Teejaruhela. They are one of many childless couples, as a result of infertility as the man's sperm count is zero. It is believed that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems in rural communities.
Shinda Singh (left) sits with his wife Jaswanda Kaur, in their bedroom in the village of Teejaruhela. They are one of many childless couples, as a result of infertility as the man’s sperm count is zero. It is believed that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems in rural communities.

Survana, 27, holds her youngest child Reetu, 2, who has suffered from spastic cerebral palsy since birth, outside their home in the village of Teejaruhela. She is one of many children in the village who suffer from development health issues. Scientists believe that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems in rural communities.
Survana, 27, holds her youngest child Reetu, 2, who has suffered from spastic cerebral palsy since birth, outside their home in the village of Teejaruhela. She is one of many children in the village who suffer from development health issues. Scientists believe that excessive pesticide use in the region over the past 30-40 years has led to the accumulation of dangerous levels of toxins such as uranium, lead and mercury which are contributing to increased health problems in rural communities.

Manjit Kaur, 9, sits alone in her classroom in the village of Teejaruhela on the India-Pakistan border. Manjit suffers from Down's Syndrome and is one of many children in the village who suffer from development health issues.
Manjit Kaur, 9, sits alone in her classroom in the village of Teejaruhela on the India-Pakistan border. Manjit suffers from Down’s Syndrome and is one of many children in the village who suffer from development health issues.

"There's no money, no medicine. I'm waiting for death", says Harneg Singh, 65, as he lies on a bed outside his home in the Punjab region of northwest India. He is one of many villagers suffering from Hepatitis C. It is believed decades of excessive pesticide use in the region has contributed to weakening people's immune systems, making them more susceptible to diseases. Many villagers cannot afford the expensive treatments and medicines that would either save them of prolong their lives.
“There’s no money, no medicine. I’m waiting for death”, says Harneg Singh, 65, as he lies on a bed outside his home in the Punjab region of northwest India. He is one of many villagers suffering from Hepatitis C. It is believed decades of excessive pesticide use in the region has contributed to weakening people’s immune systems, making them more susceptible to diseases. Many villagers cannot afford the expensive treatments and medicines that would either save them of prolong their lives.

A farmer stands amongst crops in the Malwa region of Punjab. Increased use of pesticides and insecticides has helped increase crop yields however it has also led to sever health issues in local communities.
A farmer stands amongst crops in the Malwa region of Punjab. Increased use of pesticides and insecticides has helped increase crop yields however it has also led to sever health issues in local communities.

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