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04
Oct

Chemical Ag Lobby Attacks EPA Over New Regulatory Decisions

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2010) The Nebraska Farm Bureau and its champion, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb), have recently expressed concern over a series of actions and proposals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning agriculture. Arguing that EPA is “overreaching” and is “out of control” by introducing new regulations that create “more paperwork” for its farmers, Sen. Nelson and advocates for chemical-intensive agriculture dismiss the EPA’s mandate to protect public and environmental health.

Sen. Nelson recently brought up his concerns at a Senate hearing with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Nebraska Farm Bureau is asking the state’s congressional delegation to work with their colleagues to halt EPA’s “non-stop regulatory assault on the state’s farmers and ranchers and their counterparts nationwide.” In addressing Administrator Jackson, Sen. Nelson said he agreed with a number of Nebraska producers who have told him that agriculture’s perspective is not being considered in EPA’s decision making, saying that, “EPA is overreaching with proposed regulations for carbon emissions, atrazine, dust standards, applying clean water rules on pesticide use and greenhouse gas reporting for livestock operations.”

“Many in the agricultural community are rightly concerned about EPA’s actions because the agency’s rules typically are implemented in a top-down fashion with too little consideration for their impact,” Sen. Nelson said. “These rules often are costly and time-consuming for Nebraska farmers and ranchers. In contrast, the U.S. Department of Agriculture works more cooperatively when it implements new rules.”

In letters sent last week to Nebraska’s U.S. senators and representatives, Farm Bureau Board of Directors cited several of what they view as examples of the so-called regulatory assault on agriculture since 2009. Including:

- EPA’s “Endangerment Finding” gives it authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
- Proposed revisions to coarse particulate matter (dust) standards, which may trigger restrictions on everything from gravel roads to farm field activities.
- A re-evaluation of atrazine.
- Action to expand federal authority over individual states’ management of surface water quality.
- Expansion of Clean Water Act permit requirements that leave open the option of regulating common pesticide applications.

New actions at EPA have led to the current re-evaluation of atrazine. Despite industry insistence that the chemical is “safe,” atrazine contaminates surface and drinking waters, is a known endocrine disruptor and is linked to birth defects and cancer. It has also been banned in every other developed country. At the end of the review process, the agency will decide whether to revise its current risk assessment of the pesticide and whether new restrictions are necessary to better protect public health. The decision to review atrazine follows recent scrutiny and findings that the current EPA regulation of atrazine in water is inadequate.

EPA, under court order, proposed new permit requirements for the discharge of pesticides into US waterways in keeping with the Clean Water Act, which the agency has a duty to uphold. However in response to this action, industry groups and members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, drafted a bill, S. 3735 aimed at stripping the Clean Water Act of its directive to protect U.S. waters from pesticide contamination. A letter, authored by Beyond Pesticides and supported by dozens and environmental and public health groups from across the country, urges Congress to support EPA in fulfilling its task, rather than undermining the laws that protect public health and the environment.

Powerful industry groups have stepped up efforts to lobby Congress to admonish and undermine EPA’s recent efforts to exert its authority and stewardship over environmental laws that serve to protect human health and the environment. According to Beyond Pesticides’ newly released Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database, many pesticides currently regulated by EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are linked to numerous chronic health effects including cancer and reproductive/developmental disorders. While environmental and public health advocates argue that many EPA actions do not go far enough to protect vulnerable populations and wildlife species, many recent decisions are aimed to increase transparency in the regulatory process. Claiming “undue burden” industry groups are determined to derail EPA’s progress.

Take Action: Beyond Pesticides encourages its members to contact their Senators and let them know how they feel about S. 3735.View the legislation and contact your Senators.

Source: The Grand Island Independent Nebraska

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01
Oct

Genetically Altered Corn Contaminates Midwest Streams

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2010) A new study by University of Notre Dame ecologist Jennifer Tank, PhD and colleagues reveals that streams throughout the Midwest are contaminated with transgenic materials from corn crop byproducts, even six months after harvest. The transgenic corn has been genetically engineered (GE) to produce its own insecticide, a toxin from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). In a 2007 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), Dr. Tank and a group of researchers demonstrated that transgenic materials from corn (pollen, leaves, cobs) do, in fact, enter streams and can be subsequently transported to downstream water bodies. In a paper, “Occurrence of maize detritus and a transgenic insecticidal protein (Cry1Ab) within the stream network of an agricultural landscape,” published in the September 27, 2010 edition of PNAS, the researchers write about their nvestigation of the fate and persistence of the material and its associated Cry1Ab insecticidal protein, using a synoptic field survey of 217 stream sites in northwestern Indiana six months after crop harvest.

“We found that corn crop byproducts were common in agricultural streams and that 86 percent of sites contained corn leaves, cobs, husks and/or stalks in the active stream channel,” Dr. Tank said. “In addition, using a sensitive laboratory test that specifically measures the amount of Cry1Ab protein from Bt corn, we detected Cry1Ab in corn collected from 13 percent of the stream sites. We also detected Cry1Ab dissolved in stream water samples at 23 percent of the sites, even six month after crop harvest.”

Dr. Tank points out that a majority of streams in the Midwestern corn belt are located in close proximity of corn fields. “Our GIS analyses found that 91 percent of the more than 200,000 kilometers of streams and rivers in Indiana, Iowa and Illinois are located within 500 meters of a corn field, suggesting that corn crop byproducts and any associated insecticidal proteins may enter streams across the corn belt states.”

Previous research has overlooked the potential for crop byproducts from transgenic corn to enter and be dispersed by headwater streams. “Our study demonstrates the persistence and dispersal of crop byproducts and associated transgenic material in streams throughout a corn belt landscape even long after crop harvest,” Dr. Tank concludes. The research emphasizes that there is a tight link between streams and adjacent agricultural fields and dispersal of crop byproducts could affect natural ecosystems beyond field boundaries.

GE crops are already known to contaminate conventional non-GE and organic crops through “genetic drift” and take a toll on the environment by increasing resistant insects and weeds, contaminating water and affecting pollinators and other non-target organisms. The long-term health effects of consuming GE food are still unknown. GE crops present a unique risk to organic growers. Wind-pollinated and bee-pollinated crops, such as corn and alfalfa, have higher risks of cross pollination between GE crops and unmodified varieties. Currently, no provision exists to effectively protect organic farms from contamination, although EPA has required “refuges” or non-GE planted barriers around sites planted with GE crops. However, a 2009 study shows that one out of every four farmers who plants GE corn is failing to comply with at least one important insect-resistance management requirement.

Beyond Pesticides believes that whether it is the incorporation into food crops of genes from a natural bacterium (Bt) or the development of a herbicide-resistant crop, the GE approach to pest management is short sighted and dangerous. There are serious public health and pest resistance problems associated with GE crops. Beyond Pesticides’ goal is to push for labeling as a means of identifying products that contain GE ingredients, seek to educate on the public health and environmental consequences of this technology and generate support for sound ecological-based management systems.

For more information on GE crops please see Beyond Pesticides page on Genetic Engineering.

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30
Sep

Pollinator Decline Hits Indian Farmers

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2010) A new study finds a clear link between a decline in wild pollinators and reduced vegetable yields in India, which researchers say will harm both the nation’s GDP as well as access to a nutritional diet. Parthiba Basu, PhD, one of the researchers from the University of Calcutta’s Ecology Research Unit, says that nutritional security in India will be affected as a result of the decline, since the vegetables that rely on pollination substantially provide essential nutrients to the population.

Source: BBC News

Image Source: BBC News/AP

The research team, which presented its findings at a recent British Society meeting at the University of Leeds, compared the yields of pollinator-dependent crops such as pumpkins, squash and cucumbers with pollinator-independent crops, such as cereals. The data shows that while yields of pollinator-independent crops continue to increase, the crops that are dependent on pollinators have leveled off.

Though the researchers would have liked to specifically compare pollinator abundance over the years, this kind of data is not currently available in India. The use of domesticated bees for pollinating crops is not widespread in India and across South Asia, according to Dr. Basu. He attributes the “political noise” in the U.S. and Europe on the pollinator problem to this identifiable domesticated bee colony collapse; however, he says that the results of his team’s research shows that it is clear that India is indeed experiencing a decline as well, albeit in the wild bee population.

According to the BBC news, pollination is estimated to be worth $224 billion globally each year. First reported in 2006, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is unlike other ailments that have affected honey bees in the past because worker bees simply disappear rapidly, never returning to the hive where the queen still lives with a small cluster of bees amidst pollen and honey stores in the presence of immature bees (brood). CCD can be especially devastating since honey bees are essential pollinators of crops that constitute over one third of the U.S. food supply or $15 billion worth of food. It has been reported that losses of honey bee colonies across 21 states in the winter of 2007-8 averaged 35%, with a high degree of variability. Large declines of honey bee colonies were also experienced in select European countries, where average losses were 26%.

Dr. Basu says that the team is currently carrying out additional research comparing conventional agriculture to “ecological” agriculture. He defines ‘ecological’ as a sort of hybrid of conventional and organic farming, focusing on a system that is integrated, humane and environmentally and economically sustainable. He says that ecological farming provides habitats for natural pollinators and is “the way forward.”

Research is ongoing as to the cause of the CCD phenomenon, but pesticides, especially neonictinoids, such as imidacloprid and thiacloprid, have been implicated. A recent study shows that due to a flaw in standard risk assessments, which consider toxic effects at fixed exposure times, the risks posed by imidacloprid and thiacloprid are likely to be underestimated. Another study found unprecedented levels of pesticide contamination in beehives, with 98 different kinds of pesticides and metabolites detected in mixtures up to 214 parts per million (ppm).

Beyond Pesticides believes that pesticides are likely to be a part of the CCD equation and a precautionary approach must be taken. Solutions to the loss of bees and human productivity are clearly within our reach if we engage our communities and governmental bodies. We know how to live in harmony with the ecosystem through the adoption of sustainable practices that simply do not allow toxic pesticide use. Because our survival depends on healthy pollinators, we must do everything in our power to solve this problem.

For more information on pollinators and CCD, read our factsheet: Pollinators and Pesticides: Escalating crisis demands action.

Source: BBC News

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29
Sep

Antibacterial Soap Hit with Class Action Suit for False Anti-Germ Claims

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2010) A class action complaint claims Dial Corp. defrauds consumers about its Dial Complete soap by falsely claiming that it ‘kills 99.99% of germs,’ when in fact the product provides no benefit over washing with regular soap and water. The suit states that Dial Corp.’s claims are deceptive and misleading, designed solely to cause consumers to buy the product. Dial Complete contains triclosan, a registered pesticide, which is linked to numerous adverse effects including hormone disruption and water contamination. The suit wants Dial Corp. enjoined from continuing its deceptive advertising, disgorgement and damages for consumer fraud and deceptive business practices.

The plaintiff, David Walls, in his suit states there are no reliable studies that show Dial Complete lives up to these claims. His complaint states: “Through its extensive and comprehensive nationwide marketing campaign, defendant claims that Dial Complete ‘kills 99.99% of germs’, is the ‘#1 Doctor Recommended’ brand of antibacterial liquid hand wash and ‘kills more germs than any other liquid hand soap’, when in actuality, it does not, a fact which Dial knew and purposely misrepresented and failed to disclose to consumers. To this day, Dial has taken no meaningful steps to clear up consumer misconceptions regarding its product.” Citing a series of false and misleading information via television commercials, advertisements, and the packaging of the product, all of which is intended to mislead unsuspecting consumers about the efficacy of the product, Dial Corp conveyed and continues to convey, according to the suit, deceptive claims about Dial Complete. As a result, the suit claims consumers have paid more for Dial Complete than they otherwise would have.

Triclosan, an antibacterial pesticide found in hundreds of consumer products, from clothing and toys to hand soap and toothpaste, has not been proven to be any more effective at killing germs than regular soap and water. A systematic review of research assessing the risks and potential benefits associated with the use of soaps containing triclosan found that data do not support the effectiveness of triclosan for reducing infectious disease symptoms or bacterial counts on the hands when used at the concentrations commonly found in consumer antibacterial hand soaps. In fact, the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Scientific Affairs reported in 2000 that, “There is little evidence to support the use of antimicrobials in consumer products such as topical hand lotions and soaps.”

As a result of growing concern over the health and environmental effects of the widespread use of triclosan, Beyond Pesticides in partnership with Food and Water Watch and 78 other groups, submitted petitions to both the FDA and EPA requiring that they ban all non-medically prescribed triclosan uses on the basis that those uses violate several federal statutes.

In a recent letter to Rep. Markey (D-Mass), regarding the status of triclosan’s regulation and efficacy, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated it is “not aware of any evidence that antibacterial washes were superior to plain soap and water for reducing transmission of or preventing infection for consumers.” The agency went on to further state that “existing data raise valid concerns about the [health] effects of repetitive daily human exposure to these antiseptic ingredients.” FDA announced that it plans to review data concerning triclosan. [Triclosan is jointly regulated by FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)]

The class action complaint was filed September 23, 2010 in the U.S. District Court of Southern Illinois on behalf of Mr. Walls and other similarly situated consumers in the State of Illinois pursuant to the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act (“Consumer Fraud Act”), 815 ILCS 505/1 et.seq., to halt the dissemination of this false and misleading advertising, correct the false and misleading perception has been created in the minds of consumers, and to obtain redress for those who have purchased the Dial Complete.

Triclosan is one of the most detected chemicals in U.S. waterways; about 96 percent of triclosan from consumer products is disposed of in residential drains. This leads to large loads of the chemical in water entering wastewater treatment plants, which are incompletely removed during the wastewater treatment process. When treated wastewater is released to the environment, sunlight converts some of the triclosan (and related compounds) into various forms of dioxins. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones and is also shown to alter thyroid function. Due to its extensive use in consumer goods, triclosan and its metabolites are present in, fish, umbilical cord blood and human milk. A recent study shows that triclosan from sewage sludge can be taken up by soybean plants and translocated into the beans themselves, then consumed by people and animals. The Centers for Disease Control in an updated National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals notes that triclosan levels in people increased by over 41% between just the years 2004 and 2006.

TAKE ACTION: Join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge to stop using triclosan today. Avoid products containing triclosan, and encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan. For more information about triclosan and the campaign, visit our Triclosan program page.

Source: Court House News Service

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28
Sep

Study Links Low Dose POPs Exposure to Type 2 Diabetes

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2010) A study published in the September 2010 issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives links low dose exposure to some persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to type 2 diabetes. The authors report that some POPs, including highly chlorinated PCBs, PBB153 and the organochlorine insecticides trans-nonachlor, oxychlordane and mirex, were associated with type 2 diabetes over an 18-year period, especially in obsese people. However, POPs did not show a traditional dose–response relationship with diabetes. Instead, POPs showed strong associations at relatively low exposures. The authors conclude that exposure to relatively low concentrations of certain POPs may play a role in the increased incidence of diabetes in the United States.

The study, “Low Dose of Some Persistent Organic Pollutants Predicts Type 2 Diabetes: A Nested Case–Control Study,” examines participants who were diabetes free in 1987–1988. By 2005–2006, the 90 controls remained free of diabetes, whereas the 90 cases developed diabetes. Using serum collected in 1987–1988, the authors measured 8 organochlorine pesticides, 22 polychlorinated biphenyl congeners (PCBs), and 1 polybrominated biphenyl (PBB). They compare POP concentrations from Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) cohort and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in 2003–2004.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes. Because of this, they have been observed to persist in the environment, to be capable of long-range transport, bioaccumulate in human and animal tissue, biomagnify in food chains, and to have potential significant impacts on human health and the environment. Many POPs are currently or were in the past used as pesticides. Others are used in industrial processes and in the production of a range of goods such as solvents, polyvinyl chloride, and pharmaceuticals. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is an international environmental treaty that aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

While the POPs pesticides implicated in this study are no longer used in the U.S., the study illustrates how the health impacts of pesticides are often subtle and delayed, and how pesticides once considered to pose “acceptable” risks are continuing to affect public health years after being pulled from the market. In response to the growing evidence linking pesticide exposures to numerous human health effects, Beyond Pesticides launched the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database, to capture the range of diseases linked to pesticides through epidemiologic studies. The database, which currently contains hundreds of entries of epidemiologic and laboratory exposure studies, will be continually updated to track the emerging findings and trends.

To address this issue, Beyond Pesticides has called for alternatives assessment in environmental rulemaking that creates a regulatory trigger to adopt alternatives and drive the market to go green. The alternatives assessment approach differs most dramatically from risk assessment in rejecting uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations, but unnecessary because of the availability of safer alternatives. For example, in agriculture, where the database shows clear links to pesticide use and multiple types of cancer, it would no longer be possible to use hazardous pesticides, as it is with risk assessment-based policy, when there are clearly effective organic systems with competitive yields that, in fact, outperform chemical-intensive agriculture in drought years. This same analysis can be applied to home and garden use of pesticides where households using pesticides suffer elevated rates of cancer.

For more information, see Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database, www.beyondpesticides.org/health.

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27
Sep

Federal Funding Awarded to Group Pushing Pesticide Industry Agenda

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2010) The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $180,000 in federal funds to a trade associated group that will “correct the misconception that some fresh produce items contain excessive amounts of pesticide residues.” The group, Alliance for Food and Farming, specifically says in its abstract on CDFA’s press release that it will use the grant to counter “claims by activist groups about unsafe levels of pesticides… and “change public perception about the safety of produce when it comes to pesticide residues.”

Marilyn Dolan, the executive director of the Alliance told California Watch “We really want to emphasize that we are not about discouraging information. …We are about encouraging consumption of all fruits and vegetables – both organic and conventional.”

However, the Alliance has criticized the “Dirty Dozen” project by the organization Environmental Working Group (EWG), contending that there is “no scientific evidence” that a small amount of pesticide residue on food “represents any health risk.” Last July, the Alliance even set up a web site and press webinar claiming that the “Dirty Dozen” list is dangerous to the public health. Food residues are only a small part of the problem with conventional farming, however, and the Alliance completely misses the mark when it comes to pesticide residues and health effects, and fails to address the fact that there is extensive scientific evidence on the dangers of pesticides; perhaps not in the form of residues on food, but definitely from drift, water contamination and other routes of exposure that the conventional agricultural industry supports.

Specifically, the Alliance claims that:

• The list is misleading to consumers because it doesn’t discuss the toxicity of pesticides present in the diet. Because of this, they say that the list does not provide a basis to assess risk.

Though EWG’s list doesn’t talk about the specific toxicity of the pesticide residues on the food, Beyond Pesticides’ new database, Eating with a Conscience, has thoroughly examined this. Beyond Pesticides looked at all of the pesticides that have allowable tolerances in the production of the 49 most commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. From this list, we have analyzed the toxic effects of each pesticide, linking it to farmworker poisonings, water contamination, wildlife poisoning, ability to drift, and other chronic health effects that have been associated with each chemical.

• The U.S. EPA’s current process for evaluating the potential risks of pesticides on food is rigorous and health-protective. The EPA’s testing requirements for pesticides used on food are more extensive than for chemicals used in any other category, and include testing targeted specifically to assess the potential risks to fetuses, infants and children.

Beyond Pesticides holds that the vast majority of all pesticide products registered for use by EPA and state governments has never been fully tested for the full range of exposure scenaries, such as mixtures and syntergistic effects, and endpoints such as endocrine disruption. Indeed, pesticides can be registered even when they have been shown to cause adverse health effects. Due to the numerous pesticide formulations on the market, the lack of disclosure requirements, insufficient data requirements, and inadequate testing, it is impossible to accurately estimate the hazards of pesticide products, much less lifetime exposure or risk. There is no way to predict the effects in children solely based on toxicity testing in adult or even adolescent laboratory animals, which is EPA’s procedure for evaluating adverse effects.

• Given the widespread media attention devoted to the list, it is disconcerting that EWG has not shared its algorithm with the scientific community or the public, nor has the EWG subjected it to an outside peer review — something it often demands of the regulatory agencies whose activities it tracks.

The EWG’s Shopper’s Guide clearly describes the methodology for which the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” were created on its website. EWG itself purports that it is “not built on a complex assessment of pesticide risks but instead reflects the overall pesticide loads of common fruits and vegetables. This approach best captures the uncertainties of the risks of pesticide exposure and gives shoppers’ confidence that when they follow the guide they are buying foods with consistently lower overall levels of pesticide contamination.”

• The currently available scientific data does not provide a convincing argument to conclude that there is a significant difference between the nutritional quality of organically grown food and food grown with conventional agricultural methods.

The health benefits of organic food need to be approached on a broader level than just individual nutritional quality of each food item. When considering strawberries, the “healthier” choice seems clear given that conventional strawberry production is notoriously dangerous for farmworker health and the environment, and that the California government is currently considering approval of methyl iodide, a chemical so carcinogenic it is actually used in the lab to induce cancer. In addition, a recent study found that organic strawberries have higher antioxidant activity, longer shelf life, and fared better in taste tests. Soils on the organic farms are also found to be healthier with higher organic matter concentration, and greater microbial biodiversity.

“This grant is a slap in the face of California’s rapidly-advancing organic agriculture sector,” said Ken Cook, president and founder of EWG in a press release by the organization. “The state should think twice about using U.S. taxpayers’ money to attempt to give chemical-dependent industrial farming a competitive edge over organics.”

The California block grants were just a piece of more than $55 million the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded nationwide. California received the biggest chunk of award money at $17.2 million dollars.

As organic agriculture continues to grow and evolve, hopefully efforts like this will not impede the progress that researchers are making finding new evidence of the benefits of choosing organic foods. The benefits of organic agriculture are by no means limited to consumers. On conventional farms, dangerous pesticide use is a hazard to farmworkers, wildlife including endangered animals, as well as the water supply, and people, especially children living in the area. For more information about why organic is the right choice see our Organic Food: Eating with a Conscience guide.

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24
Sep

Send Your Comments to EPA as Scientists Examine the Fate of Silver Nanoparticle Waste

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2010) Researchers from Virginia Tech discovered, for the first time, a way to detect nanosilver particles in the environment, finding that the particles leaching from consumer products can transform into silver sulfide in sewer sludge. Despite their widespread use, scientists still know very little about how nanomaterials move from consumer manufactured products into the environment and what impact they might have. These findings provide new information about the life cycle of silver nanoparticles, which are used in a number of consumer products as antimicrobial agents, including cosmetics, sunscreens, sporting goods, clothing, electronics, baby and infant products, food, and food packaging.

Previous studies have shown that the particles, which are between one and 100 nanometers in size and smaller than many viruses, can enter the environment through wastewater, where they can accumulate in biosolids at wastewater treatment plants. These biosolids, also known as sewage sludge, are often sold to consumers as fertilizer, despite the fact that they can contain toxic contaminants, including another antibacterial, triclosan, which was recently found to persist in the environment. Nanosized particles can be released from impregnated materials via washing or or as a result of sweating, posing unknown adverse effects to humans and water systems. There is much reason to be concerned, especially since a recent study found that nanosilver can interrupt important cell signaling within male reproductive sperm cells, causing them to stop growing.

Though scientists were previously aware that many publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities had silver in their sludge, identifying and characterizing these microscopic particles among countless other chemicals was another matter. The Virginia Tech researchers used x-ray transmission electron microscopy, an extremely sensitive technique that can identify both composition and structure. With micrographs of sludge from a Midwest treatment plant, they identified nanoparticles 5 to 20 nm in diameter and determined that the particles had a 2-to-1 silver-to-sulfur ratio. The scientists also obtained a crystal structure to confirm that the particles were Ag2S.

“What we start with is not what ends up in nature,” says Michael Hochella, Ph.D., one of the researchers. He believes this work underscores the complexity in studying the environmental effects of nanoparticles and suggests that the nanomaterials most likely enter the treatment plant in the form of silver nanoparticles and then transform into silver sulfide, because silver readily binds to sulfer and wastewater plants contain high concentrations of sulfide.

But, the environmental impact of nanoparticles is still unclear. Researchers also do not know how much incoming silver turns into silver sulfide. The Virginia Tech teams plans to analyze samples from each stage of the treatment process at the same wastewater plant as their next step.

With an increasing number of scientific studies looking at these antibacterial substances, two basic, yet important, questions arise: Are they safe for human health and the environment? And, are they necessary?

For more information on nanomaterials, see Beyond Pesticides’ nanosilver page.

Take Action: EPA announced a 45-day public comment period for the draft document “Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray” (EPA/600/R-10/081). The document is being issued by the National Center for Environmental Assessment within EPA’s Office of Research and Development. EPA is releasing this draft document solely for the purpose of pre-dissemination review under applicable information quality guidelines. This document has not been formally disseminated by EPA. It does not represent and should not be construed to represent any agency policy or determination. The draft document is available via the Internet on the NCEA home page under the Recent Additions and the Data and Publications menus at http://www.epa.gov/ncea.

The draft is intended to serve as part of a process to help identify and prioritize scientific and technical information that could be used in conducting comprehensive environmental assessments of selected nanomaterials. It does not attempt to draw conclusions regarding potential environmental risks of nanoscale silver; rather, it aims to identify what is known and unknown about nanoscale silver to support future assessment efforts. When finalizing the draft document, EPA intends to consider any public comments that EPA receives in accordance with this notice. Technical comments should be in writing and must be received by EPA by September 27, 2010

For more information, please see our Watchdogging the Government page.

Source: Chemical and Engineering News

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23
Sep

Triclosan Persists at Low-Levels in the Environment for Long Periods of Time

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2010) A study by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and cooperators provides new details about how fertilizing soils with biosolids also introduces triclosan, an antibacterial agent in soaps and other cleaning supplies, into the environment. Results show that triclosan in biosolids is only slowly degraded and persists at low levels in the environment for long periods of time. Biosolids are illegal for use in organic agriculture.

For this study, entitled “Fate of triclosan in agricultural soils after biosolid applications” and published in Chemosphere, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), chemist Clifford Rice, of the ARS Environmental Management and Byproduct Utilization Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and his partners determined that triclosan levels in Class B biosolids from a Mid-Atlantic wastewater treatment plant averaged around 15.5 milligrams per kilogram. They collected surface soil samples from 26 farms in northern Virginia, mostly from pastures. Some fields had never been amended with biosolids and others had been amended with one to four applications of biosolids within the previous 9 months to 13 years. Most of the biosolid amendments came from the wastewater treatment plant in the study.

Generally, conventional chemical-intensive farmers add “Class B” biosolids, also known as treated wastewater solids, to their fields as a fertilizer. Little information has been obtained about these biosolids and their triclosan levels. However, recent tests on biosolids have detected triclosan in compost distributed free to gardeners and labeled as “organic biosolids compost.” The researchers found farms that had not received biosolid applications had background triclosan levels that peaked at 4.5 nanograms per gram of dried soil. Farms that had received single and multiple biosolid applications also had low triclosan levels, but the concentrations varied from 3.1 to 66.6 nanograms per gram. The results also suggested biological degradation of triclosan in the soils that had been amended with biosolids resulted in the loss of 78 percent of the triclosan after 7 to 9 months, and that up to 96 percent was removed after 16 months. For multiple-applications farms, residual concentrations, found in the soils at times greater than 480 days after applications, averaged two times higher than background level.

Triclosan is one of the most detected chemicals in U.S. waterways; about 96 percent of triclosan from consumer products is disposed of in residential drains. This leads to large loads of the chemical in water entering wastewater treatment plants, which are incompletely removed during the wastewater treatment process. When treated wastewater is released to the environment, sunlight converts some of the triclosan (and related compounds) into various forms of dioxins. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones and is also shown to alter thyroid function. Due to its extensive use in consumer goods, triclosan and its metabolites are present in, fish, umbilical cord blood and human milk. A recent study showed that triclosan from sewage sludge can be taken up by soybean plants and translocated into the beans themselves, then consumed by people and animals. The Centers for Disease Control in an updated National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals noted that triclosan levels in people increased by over 41% between just the years 2004 and 2006.

Beyond Pesticides, in partnership with Food and Water Watch and 78 other groups, submitted petitions to both the FDA and EPA requiring that they all non-medically prescribed triclosan uses on the basis that those uses violate several federal statutes. Prompted by this petition, which was then echoed by Rep. Markey’s (D-MA) letters of concern, the FDA responded, “existing data raise valid concerns about the [health] effects of repetitive daily human exposure to these antiseptic ingredients,” and announced plans to address the use of triclosan in cosmetics or other products. EPA, however, in its response maintains that the agency does not currently plan to reevaluate its regulations surrounding the use of triclosan until 2013.

TAKE ACTION: Join the ban triclosan campaign and sign the pledge to stop using triclosan today. Avoid products containing triclosan, and encourage your local schools, government agencies, and local businesses to use their buying power to go triclosan-free. Urge your municipality, institution or company to adopt the model resolution which commits to not procuring or using products containing triclosan.

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22
Sep

Expanded- Eating with a Conscience: For You, Workers and Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, September 22, 2010) Consumer food buying decisions have a direct effect on the health of the environment and those who grow and harvest food. Beyond Pesticides released its expanded Eating with a Conscience guide –now updated to include the 43 of the most commonly eaten fruits and vegetables, which shows consumers why, according to the group, “food labeled organic is the right choice.” Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, said, “In addition to serious health questions linked to actual residues of toxic pesticides on the food we eat, our food buying decisions support or reject hazardous agricultural practices, protection of farmworkers, and stewardship of the earth.”

Eating with a Conscience explains to consumers the effect they are having on health and the environment when they purchase food grown with chemical-intensive methods, even if a large number of residues do not remain on the finished food product. The group points to organic-certified food with the USDA organic seal as “the only system of food labeling that is subject to independent public review and oversight –ensuring consumers that toxic chemicals used to kill insects and unwanted plants (or weeds) in chemical-intensive food production are replaced by management practices focused on soil biology, biodiversity, and plant health.”

“Organic practices under the Organic Foods Production Act eliminate commonly used toxic chemicals in the production and processing of food that is not labeled organic, pesticides that contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farmworkers, and kill bees, birds, fish and other wildlife,” said Mr. Feldman.

Recent media attention has focused consumers on purchasing foods that are often referred to as “clean,” but grown with toxic chemicals that show up as residues on their food in small amounts or are not detectable. While this approach alerts consumers to hazardous residues on food, those very same “clean” food commodities can be grown with hazardous pesticides that wash off into waterways and groundwater, contaminate nearby communities, poison farmworkers, and kill wildlife.

For example, while conventional onions grown with toxic chemicals show low pesticide residues on the finished commodity, Eating with a Conscience explains that there are 63 pesticides with established tolerances for onions: 26 are acutely toxic creating a hazardous environment for farmworkers, 59 are linked to chronic health problems (such as cancer), 8 contaminate streams or groundwater, and 55 are poisonous to wildlife. While not all listed pesticides are applied to every onion, they may be used in the production of all onions, making it impossible at the point of sale to identify which specific chemicals are used.

With its Eating with a Conscience guide, Beyond Pesticides is asking consumers to, when possible, buy organic food and make the “right food choice –good for you, the environment and workers.” To view the database, go to www.EatingWithAConscience.org.

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22
Sep

Take Action: Comments Needed to Help Shape Federal Government Efforts to Prevent Chemical Exposures

(Beyond Pesticides, September 22, 2010) The National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures, a collaborative initiative aimed at developing an action agenda for strengthening the nation’s approach to protecting the public’s health from harmful chemical exposures, has drafted six work group reports on cross-cutting public health and chemical exposure topics. Public comment is invited and has been extended to Monday, September 27, 2010.

Supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR), the National Conversation is a collaborative project that was launched in June 2009 to engage CDC, ATSDR, other organizations working on chemical exposure issues, and the public to develop an action agenda with clear, achievable recommendations that can help government agencies and other organizations strengthen their efforts to protect the public from harmful chemical exposures. Beyond Pesticides is an active participant in the National Conversation.

Six work groups have convened to research and make recommendations on public health and chemical exposure issues. Public comment is needed for each work groups’ final reports as they work to develop the action agenda. To view work group reports and instructions for submitting comments, visit each work group’s page:
Monitoring
Scientific Understanding
Policies and Practices
Chemical Emergencies
Serving Communities
Education and Communication

These reports have highlighted several key themes that working group participants have recommended. These include: better communication and outreach to community groups and residents; provide affected communities with easy access to information about the chemicals to which they are exposed, including the health effects of these chemicals; expand and link chemical monitoring, achieve a more complete understanding of chemicals and their health effects; gain a better understanding of individual susceptibility, community vulnerability, and the impacts of low-dose, multiple, and cumulative chemical exposures.

Also recommended is the need to shift emphasis of chemical policy away from management of exposures and risk, toward a prevention focus, including the development, adoption, and evaluation of safer alternatives.

The National Conversation Leadership Council authors the action agenda, utilizing input from project work groups, and members of the public who choose to participate in web dialogues and community conversations. CDC and ATSDR are working with several partners to manage the National Conversation project, including:
RESOLVE
American Public Health Association
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
National Association of County and City Health Officials

Take Action: Submit your comments to each of six working documents on RESOLVE. In order to be considered, comments must be received by 5:00 PM EDT, September 27, 2010. Comments received after the close of the comment period will be considered if possible. Comments will be posted to RESOLVE’s website and will include the submitter’s name and organizational affiliation.

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21
Sep

USDA Revokes Accreditation of Non-Compliant Organic Certifier

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2010) Keeping its promise to maintain the integrity of the organic label made under the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that California Organic Farmers Association’s (COFA) accreditation as an organic certifying agent has been revoked because it failed to comply with the national organic regulations. As a result, COFA is no longer authorized by USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) to certify organic crop, livestock, wild crop, and handling operations. Although the rigorous standards and certification procedures of the NOP are unparalleled in chemical-intensive agriculture, the program has been criticized for straying from its legal requirements during the Bush Administration. Organic advocates applaud NOP’s renewed commitment to organic integrity.

Under the Organic Foods Production Act, the federal organic law, organic products are required to originate from farms or processors certified by NOP-accredited certifying agents, which may be state-run or private. NOP relies on these agents to ensure that certified organic operations continue to comply with federal organic regulations. Organic operations must maintain an approved farm plan of how it will meet NOP regulations and undergo a successful inspection by the certifier to label its products organic. Certifying agents normally evaluate Organic System Plans, conduct inspections, and audit records to verify compliance with the national organic standards. Once accredited, they must renew their accreditation every five years.

NOP accredited COFA as an organic certifying agent on April 29, 2002. Following COFA’s submission of a 5-year renewal application in 2007, NOP conducted an audit of the facility and its records, which resulted in the finding of 12 noncompliant items. After COFA submitted corrective actions, NOP determined that COFA had not adequately corrected 10 of the noncompliances. On July 31, 2008, the NOP proposed to revoke COFA’s accreditation for three years due to failure to comply with the NOP regulations or to proffer satisfactory corrective actions. COFA appealed the NOP’s decision, which the Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator denied Oct. 8, 2009. Pursuant to federal regulations, COFA requested a formal administrative proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge. In August 2010, COFA withdrew its request for a hearing, thereby upholding the Administrator’s denial of COFA’s appeal and revoking COFA’s accreditation for 3 years.

Points of COFA’s noncompliance with the governing act and the national organic standards included review of a facility in which an employee held a partial interest, inadequate retention of records and procedures, and insufficient inspections of and communication with certified operations.

This is not the first time that NOP has challenged an organic certifying agent’s accreditation under the Obama Administration. In June 2010, NOP reached a settlement agreement with the organic certifying agent Organic Crop Improvement Agency (OCIA), ceasing its operations in China because of inadequate oversight. An August 2007 audit by NOP revealed that OCIA used inspectors on state-run farms who were employed by the Chinese government and therefore had a conflict of interest. In July 2008, NOP proposed revocation of OCIA’s accreditation in China, but OCIA appealed. The settlement agreement with OCIA, once a lead certifier of Chinese organic goods, prohibits it from operating in China for one year, at which point, it could re-apply.

During the Bush Administration, organic advocates criticized USDA’s implementation of the federal organic law. This led to two USDA Inspector General (IG) investigations. While most organic labeled produce and processed agricultural products on store shelves probably complied with federal law during this period, the IG found several serious problems with the implementation of the program between October 2003 and July 2009. Ms. Rayne Pegg, appointed Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator by the Obama Administration in 2009, said USDA agrees in principle with the findings and recommendations of the audit. Citing recent budget increases, which nearly double the NOP staff size from 16 to 31, Ms. Pegg said, “NOP anticipates addressing all of the recommendations made by the Inspector General in FY 2010.” These include improvements to the process for certifying imported agricultural products.

For more information on the changes at the NOP following the IG audit, read the IG report, Oversight of the National Organic Program (01601-03-Hy) and Beyond Pesticides’ analysis. More information on the regulation of organic agriculture is available on Beyond Pesticides organic food program page.

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20
Sep

Stores Fined for Selling Mislabeled and Unregistered Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2010) California-based discount retailer 99 Cents Only Stores Inc. has been fined over $400,000 for selling three household products containing unregistered or mislabeled pesticides. It is the largest contested penalty ever handed down by EPA. According to EPA, the retailer continued to sell the products even after being notified that they were violating regulations.

EPA found 99 Cents Only Stores were selling products in violation of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) during a routine inspection in 2004. Subsequent inspections up until 2008 found additional problems resulting in a total of 166 separate violations. Originally. EPA handed down a $1 million fine. 99 Cents Only Stores Inc decided to contest the penalty. These types of fines are rarely contested. In the end, EPA Administrative Law Judge Susan Biro ruled the company would pay a fine of $409,490, declaring the retailer’s management had a “culture of indifference.”

Of the 166 violations committed by 99 Cents Only stores Inc., 164 were related to a household cleaner and sanitizer imported from Mexico called Bref Limpieza y Disinfeccion Total con Densicloro which translates into “Bref Complete Cleaning and Disinfection with Densicloro.” The product had pesticidal claims on the label, but was not registered with EPA. According to FIFRA, any product making pesticidal claims, including those that make antibacterial claims, must be registered with the agency, and meet labeling requirements. The retailer sold at least 658 bottles of the product in its stores in California, Arizona, and Nevada. The store also sold the unregistered pesticide Farmer’s Secret Berry & Produce Cleaner, and PiC BORIC ACID Roach Killer III with labels that were upside down or inside out. Boric acid is a low toxicity, non-volatile mineral, and a safer alternative to many other chemical pesticides. Boric acid can however be harmful in very large doses; in some individuals it can also cause irritation and rarely allergic reactions. Having accurate labeling information is vital if boric acid is to be used safely and effectively. So far, no cases of illness or injury resulting from the use of these products have been reported.

Jared Blumenfeld, EPA regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said, “We’re trying to send a really strong market signal that you can’t be lax around things like labeling and that having clear information is critical to public health.”

Analysts do not believe the fine will have much of a financial effect on 99 Cents Only Stores Inc. Jeff Gold president of 99 Cents Only said in an interview that the company had previously relied on manufacturers and suppliers, but has since adopted stricter measures to prevent violations, adding, “Our customer safety and quality of our product is always first and foremost in our mind, and we would never want to do anything intentionally to compromise that.”

In addition to the recent EPA fine, two separate class action lawsuits were filed against 99 Cents Only Stores Inc in July, alleging unfair and deceptive business practices and misleading advertising.

Source Los Angeles Times

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17
Sep

13-year Old Takes to the Web to Just Say “No” to Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2010) A thirteen-year old girl in a Northern Virginia suburb has recently launched her own campaign to urge her neighbors to stop spraying pesticides, and we want you to do the same! With a growing body of scientific evidence proving that pesticides threaten the public’s health by increasing the risk of cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, reproductive problems and more, there is an urgent need for pesticide reform at all levels, and everyone can do their part!

The message: “Never fear, it’s not too late to change our ways and go organic! There are millions of ways to keep your yards looking great without using pesticides.”

The young girl’s campaign began as a school project that focused on cleaning up her local environment. However, she became increasingly concerned about the amount of lawn chemicals and mosquito sprays that were being used in her community and turned into a full blown effort to reduce toxic pesticide use. As part of this effort, she distributed 200 of Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide Free Lawn Door Hangers in her neighborhood and learned everything she could about the dangers of toxic pesticides and how easy it is go “go organic.”

The culmination of her project has been turned into a short video (shot by her talented eleven-year old brother), in which she urges her community to switch to pesticide-free! In the video she quotes scientific studies on health effects associated with pesticides and also interviews a neighbors who have already vowed to keep pesticides out of their yards to demonstrate the how and why pesticide-free is the way to be.

See the video for yourself:
Activist video: Just Say NO to Pesticides

Young people all across the country are standing up for pesticide reform, with new policies being adopted all over the country in response to citizen action and demands for stricter pesticide regulations. In Massachusetts carcinogenic pesticides or products that contain EPA List 1, Inerts of Toxicological Concern can no longer be applied to school grounds, and no pesticides can be applied for purely aesthetic reasons. In Connecticut, pesticides cannot be used on day care center turf, or on school grounds for kindergarten through 8th grade. In Branford, CT all of the town’s playing fields, parks, and public green spaces are managed without the use of pesticides. For a more extensive list of examples see Beyond Pesticides activists tools pages.

What you can do?
Beyond Pesticides has tons of resources to help you make your neighborhood a model community:
Distribute door-knob hangers. We have door knob hangers for toxic-free lawns for pest management in apartments and homes that you can download. You can request the first 25 lawn door knob hangers for free, and there is space on each hanger for you to put a business card, sticker or your own information, if you wish to include it.
Display a Pesticide Free Zone Sign. Proudly show your community you support pesticide-free lawn care! You can order them at our online store.
Pledge your yard, park or other community or business-managed green space as organically managed.
Start your own local movement. We have several fact sheets available to help you organize in your community: “Calling All Activists,”Preparing a Campaign” and “Getting the Message Across” are some good ones.
Create your own video. Tell us why or how you have gone pesticide-free, demonstrate your outreach efforts or find any other way to send the pesticide-free message, send it to us and we’ll put it on our website!
And, most importantly, let us know! Tell us what you’re doing to help stop or reduce pesticides in your community or ask us if are stumped for ideas. We talk to people every day who, like you, want to change things in their communities. Call us at 202-543-5450, send us an email at info@beyondpesticides.org, or post a note to our facebook page.

“Do your part to in making our community a healthier and safer place to live and just say ‘No’ to pesticides!”

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16
Sep

USDA Announces Availability of $6 Million for Organic Certification Cost-Share Reimbursements

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2010) Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will make available $6.37 million in federal funds for organic certification cost-share reimbursements for the fiscal year 2010. Recipients must receive initial certification or continuation of certification from a USDA accredited certifying agent and may be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of their organic certification costs, not to exceed $750 per year.

According to a press release from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), these funds will be available through two cost-share programs that AMS manages: the Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA) and the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. Each program provides cost-share rebates to eligible organic producers and/or handlers receiving or renewing organic certification by a USDA accredited certifying agent through funds allocated to their respective state agriculture agencies. The states, in turn, review applications submitted by eligible producers and/or handlers and distribute funds accordingly.

The 2008 Farm Bill, (the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 6523)), authorized $22 million in federal funds towards the National Organic Cost-Share Program to be distributed for five years following the passage of the bill. Coupled with the authorization provided by the Federal Crop Insurance Act in 2001 for the management of the AMA, they enable USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to offer reimbursements, without regard for type or size of the operation, to those who participate in the organic agriculture market.

The annual inspection/certification fee for organic farms was initially estimated to be about $750 per farm by the National Organic Program (NOP) when the program began. However, the fees will vary depending on the certifying agent, and also depend on the size of the farm and costs of inspection. Examples of what a potential fee might be based on the state and farm can be found the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service’s (ATTRA) website.

The costs of certification and inspections are often cited by small farms as one road block to participating in organic certification. This program helps to alleviate some of those costs, giving more farmers the option to become organic. Additionally, small farms (making less than $5,000/year on organic products) are exempt from getting certification. Farmers are encouraged to shop around for a certifying agent that will be the most cost-effective for their operation. For more information on organic certification and regulation, see Beyond Pesticides Organic Program Page.

For organic producers and handlers to receive cost-share rebates, they must submit their applications to the representative agency of the state in which their farm/operation is located. Eligible organic producers and handlers must also comply with the USDA National Organic Program regulations for organic production or handling. They should have received certification or continuation of certification by a USDA accredited certifying agent within the above timeframe.

As organic agriculture continues to grow and evolve, researchers are continuing to find new evidence of the benefits of choosing and growing organic foods, and the benefits of organic agriculture extend to everyone. On conventional farms, dangerous pesticide use is a danger to farmworkers, wildlife including endangered animals, as well as the water supply, and people especially children living in the area. For more information about why organic is the right choice see our Organic Food: Eating with a Conscience guide.

Additional information on the cost-share programs, as well as a list of participating states, is available on the National Organic Program home page at www.ams.usda.gov/NOPCostSharing.

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15
Sep

Take Action: EPA Seeks Feedback on New Pesticide Labeling Guidance

(Beyond Pesticides, September 15, 2010) On September 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) unveiled “Enable the Label,” an online discussion forum established to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas related to the labeling of pesticides. EPA will facilitate a monthly discussion focusing on one or two chapters of the Label Review Manual, an educational tool for understanding the pesticide labeling process. Beyond Pesticides has criticized EPA’s pesticide labeling program in the past for not providing full disclosure on potential health and environmental effects, ingredients and breakdown products, data gaps and other missing information.

Each month several questions will be posed for discussion and the public is welcome to post thoughts and ideas on the topics and provide feedback on any other subject covered in that month’s chapter. According to EPA, the goal is to improve the clarity and usefulness of the Label Review Manual for its users – primarily people who draft, review, or enforce labels in the field. Pesticide manufacturers and their representatives, State pesticide regulators, and pesticide users are expected to be interested in participating in EPA’s new “Enable the Label” online discussion forum. The Label Review Manual is a tool for understanding the pesticide labeling process. It is a collection and plain English explanation of existing pesticide labeling policy, regulations, and statutes.

The inaugural “Enable the Label” discussion will solicit ideas related to Chapters 1 and 2 of the Manual. Discussion threads covering these chapters will be open for comment and discussion for 30 days. Subsequently, EPA will move through the manual by individual chapter or small groups of chapters, each open for comment for 30 days. OPP will review comments received and incorporate useful ones into future revisions of the Label Review Manual. However, the agency refuses to allow the forum to be a place to debate or take comment on existing laws, regulations or general discussions on pesticide policy issues.

For this discussion focusing on the Label Review Manual, EPA is seeking comments or suggestions in the following areas:

• Text that can be improved;
• Examples that could be improved or replaced with better ones; and,
• New scientific or policy developments that have occurred since the chapter was last updated.

EPA hopes that “Enable the Label” will provide informal comment opportunities to everyone interested in improving the Label Review Manual, and encourage creative solutions to complex pesticide label challenges. The Manual’s chapters discuss label claims, ingredient statements, labeling requirements, direction for use, etc.

EPA has been exploring and developing ideas to improve the pesticide labels. Currently, as part of a series of initiatives to improve pesticide labeling, EPA is working with external stakeholders to design a new system for delivering product labeling to pesticide users. The new approach, which could largely replace the paper-based system, will rely on users to contact either an official pesticide labeling website or a toll-free telephone number from which they can obtain the detailed use instructions that previously were attached to the product container. EPA is also inviting organizations to work with the agency to conduct a “User Acceptance Pilot” to research the extent to which pesticide users would accept a system requiring them to obtain labeling via the internet. EPA hopes that web-distributed labeling would only provide instructions for the location and intended use that the pesticide user specifies online.

If such a system was ultimately implemented, EPA expects faster access to new pesticide uses, quicker implementation of public health and environmental protective measures, and lower costs for industry and EPA. However, there are many shortcomings of web-distributed labeling such as lack of internet access to many farmers -especially poorer farmers, limited language options and possible increased lack of compliance. Generally, pesticide labels have a low level of compliance, meaning that consumers and pest control operators do not properly follow label directions, leading to increased exposures to toxic chemicals, injury and even death.

In the past, EPA has maintained that pesticide labels should, on the whole, be free from any symbol or claim that might mislead consumers or give a false sense of a product’s safety. Crackdowns concerning the sale and distribution of unregistered, mislabeled pesticides have occurred in the past, with EPA maintaining that this is a serious violation that can result in harm to public health and the environment. However, EPA enforcement against non-compliance is generally very limited. Limited label information, including the non-disclosure of inert ingredients, also provides consumers with little information with which they can make informed decisions when buying pesticides and choosing less hazardous products.

Take Action: Submit your comments and comment on chapters 1 and 2 of the Label Review Manual at blog.epa.gov/enablethelabel. Focus areas for these chapters include:
Products That Are Not Pesticides. This section focuses on products that are not considered pesticides if they are labeled for use only in or on living man or animals (Chapter 2, Section II C 1). What improvements can you suggest?
Plant Nutrients vs. Plant Growth Regulators.This text attempts to clarify the difference between nutrients and growth regulators (Chapter 2, Section II E). How could this section be improved (e.g. better or additional examples)?
Products That Are Exempt from Registration. This section offers a detailed discussion of products exempt from registration (Chapter 2, Section IV).

Source: EPA News Release

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14
Sep

Study Highlights High Levels of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Indoor Air

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2010) A new study confirms that indoor uses of consumer products, including pesticides, are the primary sources of indoor exposure to endocrine disruptors –chemicals that disrupt hormones and cause adverse developmental, disease, and reproductive problems– and shows that indoor levels are higher than those outdoors. Researchers from Silent Spring Institute, Columbia University, and the University of California-Berkeley measured airborne concentrations of endocrine disruptors in two California communities: Bolinas, a rural, affluent coastal town, and Richmond, a working-class city ringed by oil refineries. The study is published online in the September 1, 2010 issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

The researchers analyzed 104 chemicals in 50 homes, including both chemicals that penetrate indoors from outdoor industrial and transportation sources and those from indoor use of consumer products and building materials. Similar levels of contamination were found inside homes in both communities, but outdoor levels were higher in Richmond. Among the chemicals found were pesticides, phthalates, parabens, PBDE flame retardants, and PCBs.

A total of 38 pesticides are evaluated, including banned organochlorines (e.g., DDT, PCP), and current use products such as carbamates (e.g., propoxur), organophosphates (e.g., chlorpyrifos), and pyrethroids (cypermethrin). Thirteen pesticides were detected outdoors and sixteen pesticides were detected in indoor air.

Unlike industrial and transportation pollutants and agricultural pesticides, which vary greatly by geographic region, the authors note that pollutants from consumer products do not vary widely geographically or demographically. This is significant because it shows the pervasive effects of common consumer products on indoor air quality.

The endocrine system consists of a set of glands (thyroid, gonads, adrenal and pituitary) and the hormones they produce (thyroxine, estrogen, testosterone and adrenaline), which help guide the development, growth, reproduction, and behavior of animals, including humans. Hormones are signaling molecules, which travel through the bloodstream and elicit responses in other parts of the body.

Endocrine disruptors function by: (i) Mimicking the action of a naturally-produced hormone, such as estrogen or testosterone, thereby setting off similar chemical reactions in the body; (ii) Blocking hormone receptors in cells, thereby preventing the action of normal hormones; or (iii) Affecting the synthesis, transport, metabolism and excretion of hormones, thus altering the concentrations of natural hormones. Endocrine disruptors have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, early puberty, infertility and other reproductive disorders, and childhood and adult cancers.

More than 50 pesticide active ingredients (see the list on page 2) have been identified as endocrine disruptors by the European Union and endocrine disruptor expert Theo Colborn, PhD. Endocrine disruption is the mechanism for several health effect endpoints.

For more information on pesticides and endocrine disruption, see Beyond Pesticides’ Endocrine Disruptors brochure. To learn more about the links between pesticide exposure and a wide range of health effects, see the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database.

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13
Sep

Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets Face New Legal Challenge

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2010) Several groups opposed to genetically engineered (GE) foods filed suit in San Francisco against the USDA on Thursday to stop the agency from sidestepping National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations and allowing the planting of GE sugar beets. Government approval of the crop was revoked in August; however, USDA announced on September 1 it would issue permits allowing farmers to plant GE sugar beets as long as the crop did not flower. The plaintiffs, which include Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club, Organic Seed Alliance, and High Mowing Organic Seeds Company with representation from Earth Justice, contend the plantings would contaminate nearby farms with GE pollen, and again asked the judge to bar all planting of GE sugar beets.

The GE sugar beets, produced by St. Louis-based Monsanto, have been engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, sold by Monsanto under the trade name Round Up. According to the Agro Industry giant their “Round-Up Ready” Sugar Beet was adopted by North American farmers faster than any other biotech crop to date. Planting glyphosate resistant crops allows growers to apply glyphosate indiscriminately. As a result, herbicide use has jumped dramatically. Despite the prevailing myth that Round-Up is safer than table salt, researchers have shown the herbicide poses many threats to human health, including increased cancer risk, as well as necrosis or death of human embryonic stem cells. Researchers are also finding an increasing number of glyphosate resistant “super weeds.” As resistance to the herbicide grows, farmers may chose to switch to even more toxic chemicals for weed control.

The plaintiffs in this case originally brought suit in 2009 against USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for approving GE sugar beets without first preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Most of the sugar beet crop is grown in or near Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Other crops grown in the area that can easily cross breed with the GE beets include table beets and Swiss chard, threatening farmers’ livelihoods, and robbing consumers of the choice to avoid GE crops. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in the Northern District of California sided with the plaintiffs and ordered APHIS to prepare an EIS. In August of 2010, Judge White revoked government approval of GE sugar beets, but allowed for beets that had already been planted before Aug 13 to be harvested and sold. In violation of Judge White’s ruling, USDA decided it would issue permits to farmers to plant the beets to produce seed stock as long as they did not flower. It is, however, not possible for the crop to produce seeds without flowering. The plaintiffs have now asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction to stop APHIS from issuing these permits.

Beyond Pesticides opposes the use of genetic engineering in agriculture because of the dangers it poses to human health and the environment. The widescale adoption of GE crops has lead to a marked increase in the use of pesticides, and emerging research has linked genetically modified crops to organ damage. All the while, these crops have failed in their promise to deliver a marked increase in yield. Currently, there are no regulations requiring GE foods to be labeled as such. The best way for consumers to avoid GE foods is to choose organic products. Organic agriculture embodies an ecological approach to farming that does not rely on or permit toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically engineered organisms, antibiotics, sewage sludge, or irradiation. For more information on why organic agriculture is the best choice for you, farmworkers, and the environment see our Eating with a Conscience guide.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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10
Sep

Philippine Anti-Dengue Campaign Stresses Integrated Pest Management

(Beyond Pesticides, September 10, 2010) The Department of Health (DOH) of the Republic of the Philippines recently launched a strategy against Dengue Fever, favoring integrated pest management (IPM) strategies over pesticide sprays. The campaign, called D.E.N.G.U.E. stands for D – daily monitoring of patient’s status, E – encourage intake of oral fluids like oresol, water, juices, etc, N – note any dengue warning signs like persistent vomiting and bleeding, G – give paracetamol for fever and NOT aspirin, because aspirin induces bleeding, U – use mosquito nets and E – early consultation is advised for any warning signs. Health Secretary Enrique Ona also reiterated that the most effective way to prevent and fight dengue is still by practicing the DOH’s ‘4-S’ strategy consisting of Search and destroy, Self-protective measures, Seek early treatment and Say no to indiscriminate fogging.

The new D.E.N.G.U.E. strategy has been devised by the DOH to educate the public on home treatment of mild dengue cases. This is to also help decongest hospitals by giving an assurance that not all dengue cases require hospital confinement but can be managed at home using the strategy. Secretary Ona is educating the public that many dengue cases, if mild, can be managed at home and not all cases require hospitalization.

“We are urging all local government units to mobilize barangay [smallest administrative unit] dengue brigades in their areas,” Secretary Ona explained, adding that a once-a-week community-wide clean up drives against dengue will help a lot in reducing cases.

Dr. Susanna Madarieta, DOH regional director, also stresses that the best prevention is to constantly clean surroundings to destroy breeding grounds of mosquitoes. Measures include removing or regularly draining all water-retaining objects, and containers such as: old tires, coconut husks, and plants of stagnant waters, tin cans, pet dishes, buckets, holes in trees, clogged gutters and down spouts, birdbaths, trash can lids, and shallow fishless ponds. Abandoned lots, houses and establishments should also be included in the search-and-destroy operations because these may have possible mosquito breeding sites.

In areas that cannot be sufficiently drained, less-toxic larvacide, such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is a bacterial strain that, can be sprayed or dunked into larval pools and is ingested by feeding larvae and kills them. Stocking permanent water pools, such as ornamental ponds, with mosquito larvae eating fish is another effective approach.

In addition to offering some of these suggestions, the DOH cautioned local government units against the use of fogging and misting in the fight against dengue. citing that the effect of the pesticides are both limited, and harmful to people and the environment.

“There is still no cure or vaccine for dengue and that is why we must focus on other cost-effective interventions, the most important of which is source reduction — destroy the dengue-carrying mosquitoes,” Secretary Ona emphasized. The number of cases nationwide in the Philippines from January to August 21 is 62,503 is 88.8% higher than last year’s 33,102 for the same period. There were 465 deaths recorded this year as opposed to last year’s 350 deaths.

Secretary Ona reminded the public that dengue, although an all-year round disease, is more common during rainy days when there are more potential breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. To prevent dengue, the Health Secretary advised the public to destroy all possible mosquito breeding sites like old tires, soft drink bottles and tin cans, and use mosquito nets or protective clothing.

The best way to avoid mosquitoes, especially in the evening when they are most active, is to wear long pants and long sleeves. Burning citronella candles outside also helps repel mosquitoes. Since these two options are not always possible, least toxic mosquito repellents can sometimes be a good alternative. Many common mosquito repellents can contain toxic ingredients, however, so it is important to consider all of the option and read labels carefully before buying or spraying the repellents.

Responsible mosquito management can be an effective method of mosquito control. Beyond Pesticides believes the ideal mosquito management strategy emphasizes education, aggressive removal of standing water sources, larval control, monitoring and surveillance for both mosquito-borne illness and pesticide-related illness. For a complete list of ways to prevent and manage mosquitoes, see Beyond Pesticides factsheet “Backyard Mosquito Management: Practices that do not poison you or the environment.” For even more resources, see our Tools for Change page.

Source: DOH Republic of Philippines Press Release

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09
Sep

Price of Organic Produce May Soon Decrease

(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2010) Researchers at the University of Arizona have examined the reasons for the higher cost of organic produce and predict the price will soon decrease. Many consumers would like to purchase more organic produce, but chose conventional due to the lower costs. Organic agriculture is the fastest growing sector of U.S. agriculture, and despite premium prices, organic food sales grew 53% from 2005 to 2008. Organic agriculture embodies an ecological approach to farming that does not rely on or permit synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Instead of using these harmful products and practices, organic agriculture utilizes techniques such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and composting to produce healthy soil, prevent pest and disease problems, and grow healthy food and fiber.

The study, entitled “Resale and Wholesale Market Power in Organic Apples,” examined organic apples grown in Washington State to serve as an example for overall organic agricultural production and sales. Washington State supplies 70% of U.S. apples. The demand for organic agriculture continues to grow due to the benefits to human health and the environment. In addition to the many organic food stores, most large grocery stores across the country carry at least a few varieties of organic produce resulting in high demand for organic products from food retailers.

Growers however have initially been slow to switch to organic agriculture, because of the substantial investment required to adopt a new methods of production, and gain organic certification. In order to be certified organic, foods must be produced without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or sewage sludge. Genetically modified crops are also not permitted in organic food. A farm must go through a three year transition phase, before it can be certified organic. The high demand and relatively low supply has allowed producers to charge retailers higher prices. Researchers found retailers earn only 7.4% of the profit margin on organic apples, versus 75.3% on conventionally grown apples. The much larger profit margin held by producers is enticing more American producers to switch to organic. As more producers switch to organic and supply increases, the bargaining power of producers will decrease causing their profit margins to decrease as well. Researchers also found prices on organic produce began to fall when Walmart announced it would sell organic food. Lead researcher Timothy Richards, PhD believes, “All of this will soon stop being an obstacle for consumers who want to buy organics.”

One concern researchers noted was the foreign suppliers eager to capitalize on the large demand for organic produce. Many foreign suppliers face few constraints from their own government. The growing number of foreign suppliers is cause for food safety concerns, as well as invasive species risk. According to Dr. Richards, this makes foreign suppliers an important aspect to examine when discussing organic policy especially rules regarding import.

The externalities or non market costs associated with organic versus conventional agriculture were not examined in this report. While consumers may pay a lower price for conventionally produced foods when compared to organic, the real cost of conventional foods are much higher when issues such as pollution, loss of biodiversity, and human illness are considered. Pesticide exposure has been linked to many diseases from cancers to ADHD. Studies suggest organic foods are more nutritious and even better tasting than conventional.

Organic farms are more complex agroecosystems than conventional farms, meaning they have higher biodiversity. Research has shown this biodiversity can help prevent many types of pests, including fungus, insects, and diseases. Organic farms are also a much safer workplace compared to conventional farms. The U.S. Department of Labor considers farm work one of the most dangerous jobs in the US yet farmworkers have little protection under current labor laws.

Beyond Pesticides supports organic agriculture as effecting good land stewardship and a reduction in hazardous chemical exposures for workers on the farm. The pesticide reform movement, citing pesticide problems associated with chemical agriculture, from groundwater contamination and runoff to drift, views organic as the solution to a serious public health and environmental threat.

For more information about why organic is the right choice, see our Organic Food: Eating with a Conscience guide.

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08
Sep

Third Biological Opinion Finds Pesticides Jeopardize Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received a new Biological Opinion from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) with a finding that the application of products containing any of 12 organophosphate (OP) pesticides are likely to jeopardize federally listed threatened or endangered Pacific salmon and steelhead and their designated critical habitat. The 12 OPs addressed in this Biological Opinion, issued under the Endangered Species Act, are azinphos-methyl, bensulide, dimethoate, disulfoton, ethoprop, fenamiphos, methamidophos, methidathion, methyl parathion, naled, phorate, and phosmet.

This opinion concludes that EPA’s registration of pesticides containing bensulide, dimethoate, ethoprop, methidathion, naled, phorate, and phosmet are each likely to jeopardize the continued existence of one or more of the 28 endangered and threatened Pacific salmonids and are each likely to destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat for one or more of the 28 threatened and endangered salmonids. NMFS reached this conclusion because predicted concentrations of these seven pesticides in salmonid habitats, particularly in floodplain habitats, are likely to cause adverse effects to at least one listed Pacific salmonids including significant reductions in growth or survival. EPA’s registration of bensulide, dimethoate, ethoprop, methidathion, naled, phorate, and phosmet is also likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat for 25 affected species because of adverse effects from at least one active ingredient on salmonid prey and water quality in freshwater rearing, spawning, and foraging areas. EPA will follow-up by developing a plan explaining how the agency will implement NMFS’ opinions.

The report, released August 31, 2010, is the third biological opinion issued as a result of a court settlement with fishermen and conservationists, filed by the non-profit law firm Earthjustice. The biological opinion prescribes measures necessary to keep these pesticides out of salmon waters in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. The previous opinion, issued in April 2009, found that the pesticides, carbaryl, carbofuran, and methomyl, harm salmon and steelhead. In response to the NMFS recommendation and EPA’s protective measures, Dow AgroSciences and Cheminova, manufacturers of carbaryl, carbofuran and methomyl products, stated that they were “baffled by the agency’s position,” saying that their products do not threaten endangered species. Citing their “solid scientific evidence” that they claim is “far more complete than is reflected in the NMFS Biological Opinion,” they are not prepared to make the registration revisions [to their products].

In 2002, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), and other salmon advocates, with legal representation from Earthjustice, obtained a federal court order declaring that EPA had violated ESA by failing to consult with NMFS on the impacts that certain pesticides have on salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest and California. As a result of that lawsuit, EPA began consultations, but NMFS never issued Biological Opinions or identified the measures needed to protect salmon and steelhead from the pesticides. In 2007, the salmon advocates filed a second lawsuit and entered into a settlement agreement with NMFS that establishes a schedule for issuing the required Biological Opinions. In all, over thirty pesticides will undergo review by the National Marine Fisheries Service over the next three years.

Under the terms of settlement, EPA must implement measures within a year-long timeframe to prevent further exposure of the pesticides to the water that cultivate these species. The measures recommended by NMFS include: a ban on application of the three pesticides in windy conditions and buffer zones near water resources and require that land applications must be at least 50-600 feet from the water resource and aerial spraying requires a 600-1,000 foot buffer zone. EPA plans to achieve protection goals through the methods outlined by NMFS in the Biological Opinion and by alternative methods that EPA’s scientific analyses determined will achieve the same purpose. For example, EPA will require pesticide drift buffers adjacent to salmon and steelhead habitat but will impose different width buffers, some wider and others narrower than those recommended by NMFS, depending on factors that affect how far the pesticide might drift from the application site.

Many of the mitigation measures required in the new Biological Opinion mirror those NMFS mandated in a previous biological opinion for organophosphate pesticides. Recently, the pesticides mehidathion, methyl parathion, azinphos-methyl have gone through the cancellation process.

Source: EPA

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07
Sep

Organic Strawberry Farming Leads to Healthier Berries and Soils

(Beyond Pesticides, September 7, 2010) A new study, entitled Fruit and Soil Quality of Organic and Conventional Strawberry Agroecosystems, shows organic strawberry farming results in higher quality fruit and healthier soils. A growing number of consumers are choosing organic foods, believing them to be healthier for themselves and the environment. While most environmentalists agree that organic agriculture is generally more sustainable than conventional, nutritionists who believe organic foods to be more nutritious are currently in the minority. A detailed comparison of organic and conventional strawberry farms is the first study to examine both the soil health and the nutrient content of the fruit produced. Researchers found organically produced strawberries, while slightly smaller than conventional have higher antioxidant activity, longer shelf life, and fared better in taste tests. Soils on the organic farms are also found to be healthier with higher organic matter concentration, and greater microbial biodiversity.

California strawberries make up 25% of total production worldwide and 87% of U.S. production. Conventional strawberry production is notoriously dangerous for farm worker health and the environment. After phasing out the ozone depleting fumigant methyl bromide, the California government is currently considering approval of methyl iodide a chemical so carcinogenic it is actually used in the lab to induce cancer. According to the Environmental Working Group’s ranking of pesticide residue contamination on common types of fresh produce, strawberries are the third most contaminated food.

To compare conventional and organic strawberry production researchers selected 13 pairs of conventional and organic strawberry fields in Watsonville, CA, the state’s dominant strawberry growing region. Organically managed soils have significantly higher organic matter content. High organic matter content enhances soil structure and fertility, and increases water infiltration and storage. Organically managed soils also have more microbial life.

Researchers found organic strawberries not only have greater nutritional value in some aspects, but also taste better than conventional strawberries. While concentrations of potassium and phosphorus are higher in the conventionally produced strawberries, organically produced strawberries have higher levels of antioxidants, Vitamin C, and phenolics. Organic strawberries also have a longer shelf life and greater resistance to post harvest fungal rot. Consumer sensory panels show a preference for the taste of organic strawberries. Three varieties of organic and conventional strawberries are compared for the study. While conventional strawberries are larger, organic berries are found to have preferable flavor and appearance.

As organic agriculture continues to grow and evolve, researchers are continuing to find new evidence of the benefits of choosing organic foods. The benefits of organic agriculture are by no means limited to consumers. On conventional farms, dangerous pesticide use is a danger to farmworkers, wildlife including endangered animals, as well as the water supply, and people especially children living in the area. For more information about why organic is the right choice see our Organic Food: Eating with a Conscience guide.

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03
Sep

Nanosilver Particles Can Stop Sperm Cells from Growing

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2010) New research shows that silver nanomaterials, which are used in a number of consumer products as antimicrobial agents, can interrupt important cell signaling within male reproductive sperm cells, causing them to stop growing. In previous studies, scientists reported how smaller-sized silver nanoparticles – in the 10 – 25 nanometer range – decrease the growth of male stem cells when they are exposed at concentrations greater than 10 micrograms per milliliter (μg/ml). This new study, on the other hand, is the first to identify how the silver nanoparticles stop the sperm stem cells from growing, with the biggest effects from the smallest-sized nanoparticles tested. Like many other studies on the effects of nanotechnology, this study raises important questions about the potential hazards to human health due to the prolific use of silver nanoparticles in the market.

Researchers tested the effects of different sizes, concentrations and coatings of silver nanoparticles on cell growth of mouse sperm cells. They compared silver nanoparticles coated with either hydrocarbons – at 15 nm, 25 nm and 80 nm diameters – or sugars – at 10 nm, 25 – 30 nm and 80 nm diameter. Exposure to the smaller sized particles led to increased stem cell death. The sugar coatings on the smaller-sized silver nanoparticles increased the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), one of the signals for induced cell death.

One important pathway known for sperm stem cell growth is the growth factor glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). Though the amount of GDNF was not changed, the signals sent to the cell were damaged after silver nanoparticle exposure. The researchers found that a small protein, Fyn kinase, is not fully functional. This protein requires a modification in order to function, and that modification is reduced when cells are exposed to silver nanoparticles.

Additionally, researches believe that exposure during development may affect forming sperm cells and lead to birth defects related to the male reproductive system. Scientists believe this is because the small silver particles can cross the mother’s placenta and directly affect the baby.

Silver nanoparticles are now widely impregnated into a wide variety of consumer products to kill off bacteria, including cosmetics, sunscreens, sporting goods, clothing, electronics, baby and infant products, and food and food packaging. However, little is known about the impact of nanoparticles on human health and the environment, and mounting evidence suggests that these materials can pose significant health, safety, and environmental hazards. Nanosized particles can be released from impregnated materials via washing or sweating where they may pose numerable unknown adverse effects to humans and water systems.

Though the use of silver nanoparticles typically falls under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act’s (FIFRA) definition of a pesticide as substances intended to kill pests such as microorganisms, EPA does not currently regulate it as such. In 2008, the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), the Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, and others including Beyond Pesticides filed a legal petition http://www.beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/?p=340 challenging EPA’s failure to regulate nanosilver as a unique pesticide. The 100-page petition addresses the serious human health concerns raised by these unique substances, as well as their potential to be highly destructive to natural environments, and calls on the EPA to fully analyze the health and environmental impacts of nanotechnology, and require labeling of all products.

Take Action:
On August 13th, EPA announced its proposal to conditionally register a pesticide product containing nanosilver as a new active ingredient for a period of 4 years. Comments are due on September 11, 2010. EPA is proposing the antimicrobial pesticide product, HeiQ AGS-20, is a silver-based product that is proposed for use as a preservative for textiles. Under its new policy concerning public involvement in registration decisions, EPA is providing a 30-day opportunity for public comments on the proposed registration. As a condition of registration, EPA is proposing to require additional product chemistry, toxicology, exposure, and environmental data. The Agency will evaluate these data as they are submitted during the period of the conditional registration.

EPA also announced a 45-day public comment period for the draft document “Nanomaterial Case Study: Nanoscale Silver in Disinfectant Spray” (EPA/600/R-10/081). The document is being issued by the National Center for Environmental Assessment within EPA’s Office of Research and Development. EPA is releasing this draft document solely for the purpose of pre-dissemination review under applicable information quality guidelines. This document has not been formally disseminated by EPA. It does not represent and should not be construed to represent any Agency policy or determination. The draft document is available via the Internet on the NCEA home page under the Recent Additions and the Data and Publications menus at http://www.epa.gov/ncea.

The draft is intended to serve as part of a process to help identify and prioritize scientific and technical information that could be used in conducting comprehensive environmental assessments of selected nanomaterials. It does not attempt to draw conclusions regarding potential environmental risks of nanoscale silver; rather, it aims to identify what is known and unknown about nanoscale silver to support future assessment efforts. When finalizing the draft document, EPA intends to consider any public comments that EPA receives in accordance with this notice. Technical comments should be in writing and must be received by EPA by September 27, 2010

For more information, please see our Watchdogging the Government and Nanosilver pages.

Source: Environmental Health News

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02
Sep

Groups Tell Senators to Stop Undermining Clean Water Act

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2010) Beyond Pesticides, along with dozens of environmental and public health groups from across the country, sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, urging the withdrawal of S. 3735, a bill that would strip the Clean Water Act of protections from pesticides. The bill, introduced by Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), the Senate Agricultural Committee’s Chair and Ranking Member, seeks to nullify regulations that require pesticide applicators apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits under CWA before applying pesticides on or near surface waters. The groups say Congress should be supporting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in fulfilling its task, rather than undermining laws that protect public health and the environment.

Senators Lincoln and Chambliss argue that because pesticides are registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) additional regulation is unnecessary and the legislation will reduce the burden on farmers, foresters and ranchers. In their August 30th letter, the groups say, “CWA complements and does not duplicate the pesticide registration reviews conducted by EPA under FIFRA, which sets a general national standard that does not take into account conditions and specific vulnerabilities evaluated through the NPDES process. Given extensive, documented water contamination by pesticides nationwide, it is critical that we allow the NPDES review process to move ahead. S. 3735 will prevent this from happening.”

For decades our nation’s waterways have been polluted with hazardous pesticides which impact aquatic populations of animals and plants, and decrease surface and drinking water quality. Results from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment Program studies show that pesticides are widespread in streams and ground water sampled within agricultural and urban areas of the nation. Many of these pesticides accumulate in fish and other organisms, making their way up the food chain, to eventually be consumed by the American public. Recent studies find that government agencies may be underestimating children’s dietary exposure to pesticides and that they are a prime cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD. Stronger regulatory action is needed to ensure that our waters, food and health are adequately protected from all industrial and agricultural pollution.

Thus, the NPDES permit is vital to protecting waterways from indiscriminate pesticide contamination. The permit would not pose undue burden to farmers, foresters and ranchers as the permits are only required for a narrow range of uses, for example, mosquito spraying which is seasonal in most parts of the U.S.

The introduction of S. 3735 follows EPA’s June 2010 posting of a draft NPDES General Permit for certain pesticide use patterns, also known as the Pesticides General Permit (PGP). The development of the permit stems from a 2009 court decision in the case of the National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA, in which the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that pesticide discharges into water are pollutants and require permitting under CWA. This ruling overturned the previous Bush administration policy that exempted pesticides from regulation under CWA, and instead applied the less stringent standards of FIFRA.

In July 2010, Beyond Pesticides and others sent comments to EPA requesting improvements to the proposed PGP and CWA regulations. These suggestions include: making general improvements to address specific limitations of the proposed permit (size of annual treatment areas, monitoring requirements, opportunities for public input); encouraging EPA to consider organic alternatives when reviewing permits; and, requiring EPA to set water quality standards for all pesticides that may contaminate water.

Beyond Pesticides encourages its members to contact their Senators and let them know how they feel about S. 3735.View the legislation and contact your Senators.

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