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20
Jan

Take Action – Tell the President and USDA: Do Not Approve GE Alfalfa

(Beyond Pesticides, January 20, 2011) Beyond Pesticides and the National Organic Coalition (NOC) are encouraging their members to contact President Obama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and tell them not to approve (or not deregulate) Monsanto’s “RoundUp Ready,” genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, which contributes to genetic drift, superweeds, and the use of a hazardous herbicide glyphosate. In December, USDA completed its environmental impact statement (EIS) of GE alfalfa. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has rejected the option to prohibit the planting (and continuing to regulate) GE Alfalfa, despite the clear recognition in the EIS that that GE contamination of organic and conventionally grown crops presents a huge problem.

USDA released its 2,400 page EIS as required by a 2007 Federal District Court decision and upheld by both 2009 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and June 2010 U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The litigation was led by the Center for Food Safety, and joined by Beyond Pesticides, and other groups, including conventional and organic seed companies and producers. Three alternatives are considered during the preparation of the final EIS: 1) to maintain the RR alfalfa’s status as a regulated article; 2) to deregulate RR alfalfa; or 3) to deregulate RR alfalfa with geographic restrictions and isolation distances for the production of RR alfalfa.

A broad coalition of groups has called for USDA to deny approval of GE alfalfa. More than 300 public interest organizations, farmers, dairies, retailers and organic food producers from the U.S. and Canada delivered a critical letter to USDA. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), joined by 49 other Representatives and five other Senators, also sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack asking USDA to retain the regulated status of GE alfalfa. Despite the public outcry, USDA has indicated that it favors some form of deregulation.

Industry representatives indicated at a meeting with Secretary Vilsack on December 20, 2010 attended by Beyond Pesticides, that they want USDA to approve the GE alfalfa in time for spring planting. Its authorization ignores on-the-ground realities that are likely to lead to widespread GE cross-pollination and contamination of organic and non-GE crops, corruption of seed supplies, and protracted economic injury to farmers and markets.

Alfalfa is the nation’s 4th largest crop, planted on over 21 million acres. Forage and hay are primary feed crops for dairy cows and beef cattle as well as pork, lamb, and sheep. It’s not just for livestock – some vegetable farmers use the hay as mulch and alfalfa meal as a beneficial soil amendment. Alfalfa sprouts constitute an important sector of the salad market and alfalfa also plays a major role in honey production.

Organic standards do not allow the use of GE crops, including for animal feed. The purity of organic milk from alfalfa-fed dairy cows is a major concern. Milk is a primary entry product and mainstay for many U.S. consumers in the organic market and GE contamination would cause severe economic injury to farmers, devastating the viability and integrity of the organic label. There are also test-verified GE-free domestic and world markets in Asia and Europe that would stop buying from US farmers whose crops are contaminated by GE alfalfa.

Despite three District Court rulings and a landmark Supreme Court decision that makes planting GE alfalfa illegal and requires USDA to formulate a valid management plan, the agency is going full steam ahead, putting the deregulation or partial deregulation, of GE alfalfa on a fast track. While conceding for the first time that GE contamination of organic and GE-free crops and markets is a major problem in the U.S., USDA’s court-ordered EIS relies on faulty data and fails to take into account the scientifically-validated promiscuous nature of GE gene flow in crops. It also overlooks the widespread corruption of conventional seed varieties by GE strains (such as occurred with StarLink corn and LibertyLink rice) along with documented severe economic injury to farmers and markets. And, there is no mention at all of possible health consequences from eating GM crops.

USDA has not shown that contamination-free coexistence with deregulated GE alfalfa is likely or possible. USDA’s EIS fails to take into account the documented increase in Roundup-resistant “super weeds” that is requiring the use of highly toxic herbicide cocktails for weed control on conventional farms. Monsanto is in a rush to spread GE alfalfa while the patent protections on its exclusive manufacture of Roundup expire in 2014. And, GE alfalfa is the all-important test case – waiting in the wings is an immediate decision on how to handle a lawsuit prohibiting GE sugar beets as well as a list of other GE crops coming along in the biotech pipeline.

Take Action – Call or email President Obama and USDA and tell them NOT to deregulate GE alfalfa

Please send your own comments (see suggested language below) and notify your networks, listserves, faith organizations, etc. and post on your website, urging other people/organizations to comment.

Suggested Language (add in your own):

“I am ___________, a farmer/citizen in (your state). Please do not to allow the commercial release of GE alfalfa. Before any release can happen, there must be independent scientific evaluation of public health, environmental, and economic consequences of that release, ongoing government oversight and protection, and a plan for compensation of those harmed by accidental contamination.”

Sincerely,
Your Name
Organization, Concerned Citizen, etc.

President Obama
Comment line: (202) 456-1111
Fax: (202) 456-2461
Email: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

USDA
Email: biotechquery@aphis.usda.gov
or call (301) 851-2300 and record your comments

For more information, visit the NOC website and Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Food and Genetic Engineering webpages.

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19
Jan

Multiple Chemicals, Including Triclosan, Found in Pregnant Women

(Beyond Pesticides, January, 19, 2011) A new study finds for the first time that the bodies of virtually all U.S. pregnant women, and possibly their unborn children, carry multiple chemicals, including some used in common products such as non-stick cookware, processed foods and personal care products. Median levels of the controversial chemical triclosan are found to be higher in pregnant women compared with nonpregnant women. This new data highlights the urgency needed to remove toxic chemicals like triclosan from consumer products.

While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published previous reports on chemical levels in the general population, this is the first study to look at a broad range of chemicals specifically in pregnant women. Entitled, “Environmental Chemicals in Pregnant Women in the US: NHANES 2003-2004,” the study analyzed biomonitoring data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) to characterize both individual and multiple chemical exposures in U.S. pregnant women. Researchers analyzed the data for 163 chemicals and detected about three-quarters of them at varying levels in some or all of the women. They found almost all – 99 to 100 percent – of the pregnant women carry polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, perfluorinated compounds, phenols such as triclosan, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and perchlorate.

Generally, levels in pregnant women are similar or lower than levels in nonpregnant women with the exception of triclosan, PBDEs – compounds used as flame retardants and DDE, a breakdown product of the long-banned DDT pesticide – which was found in every woman and at some of the highest levels measured for any of the chemicals. Triclosan also has some of the highest median levels (17ug/l) detected in pregnant women whose concentrations has high variability across the sampled population (the 95th percentile is 35 times greater than the median triclosan concentration).

The authors recommend that future work focus on understanding sources of exposure and the health impacts from exposures to multiple chemicals. The health risks for mother and child associated with exposure to this many chemicals at detectable –and sometimes high– levels is not known. Low-level exposures to some of these chemicals during the prenatal period –a time of rapid growth– can lead to a host of long-term health effects, including birth defects, reproductive problems, and cancer. Although the chemicals found are similar to those identified previously in nonpregnant women, pregnant women are more vulnerable than the general population. Many of the pollutants measured in the study can pass through the placenta from the mother to the developing fetus. Many, like triclosan, have been measured in cord blood, fetal blood and amniotic fluid. A recent study raised pregnancy concerns surrounding fetal exposure to triclosan in the womb. The study finds that triclosan interferes with estrogen metabolism in women and can disrupt a vital enzyme during pregnancy. Triclosan, found in hundreds of antibacterial consumer products, is also linked to thyroid interference and, according to the CDC in the updated National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, triclosan levels in people increased by approximately 50% between the years 2004 and 2006.

Triclosan is one of the most detected chemicals in U.S. waterways and sewage sludge, which often gets recycled to agricultural and residential lands. In the environment, sunlight converts triclosan (and related compounds) into various forms of dioxins. It has also been detected in fish, earthworms and crops.

Recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published for public comment the petition to ban triclosan submitted by Beyond Pesticides, in partnership with Food and Water Watch and 80 other groups. The petition cites the mounting scientific evidence detailing triclosan’s threat to human health and the environment. The public has until February 7th, 2011 to tell EPA to ban this dangerous chemical. Submitting comments takes no more than a few minutes. Electronic comments can be submitted to EPA at www.regulations.gov using docket number: EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0548. Or you can go submit comments directly here. You can also send an automated email to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson by clicking here. More information on triclosan, the petition and how to comment can be found here. Also visit our Triclosan Webpage.

Take Action: After you have submitted your comments asking the EPA to remove triclosan from consumer products, 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.

Source: Environmental Health News

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18
Jan

California’s Pesticide Use Declined Again, Yet Millions of Toxic Pesticides Continue To Be Used

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2010) Pesticide use declined in California for a fourth consecutive year in 2009 according to the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), yet despite the viability of organic agriculture, millions of pounds of highly toxic pesticides continue to be used unnecessarily throughout the state.

The Summary of Pesticide Use Report Data 2009 estimates that approximately 162 million pounds of reported pesticides were applied statewide, a decrease of nearly 8 million pounds or 5 percent from 2008. Pesticide use in production agriculture fell by 5.1 million pounds and in most other categories as well, including post-harvest treatments, structural pest control and landscape maintenance. Reports are mandatory for agricultural and pest control business application, however most home, industrial and institutional uses are exempt.

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

California also leads with the most certified organic cropland, with over 430,000 acres, largely used for fruit and vegetable production according to updated data posted by USDA and an averaged 15 percent certified organic cropland acreage annual growth between 2002 and 2008.

DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam emphasized that pesticide use varies from year to year depending on a number of factors, including weather, pest problems, economics and types of crops planted. Increases and decreases in pesticide use from one year to the next or in the span of a few years do not necessarily indicate a general trend. A wet winter, for example, may result in more pesticide use to control excessive weeds.

“The winter and spring of 2009 was relatively dry, which probably resulted in less weed and disease pressure,” Ms. Warmerdam said. “Fumigants showed the greatest drop in pounds and acres treated, which also may be due to increased environmental and regulatory concerns.” In 2008, DPR expanded its restrictions on agricultural fumigant applications in areas of the state that don’t meet federal air quality standards. The intent was to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions from pesticides. VOCs combine with nitrogen oxides in sunlight to form ozone, a major air pollutant.

Overall, fumigant use fell in 2009 by 5.4 million pounds, or 14 percent and 6,000 acres treated, or 2 percent. Use of five of the six major fumigants declined: 1,3-dichloropropene(1,3-D), potassium N-methyldithiocarbamate, metam-sodium and methyl bromide.

Even though highly-toxic fumigant sulfuryl fluoride rose in 2009, use is expected to decline. This is due to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s recent response to the June 2006 petition submitted by Beyond Pesticides, Fluoride Action Network, and Environmental Working group, EPA has announced that it proposes to eliminate the use of sulfuryl fluoride in agriculture and food related products. However, despite granting the petition’s assertion that total public exposure to fluoride is too high, EPA has denied the petition’s request for an immediate stay of all registered uses of sulfuryl fluoride.

In 2009, as in previous years, sulfur was the most highly used pesticide in both pounds applied and acres treated. By pounds, sulfur accounted for 27 percent of all reported pesticide use. It increased by 1.6 million pounds, or 4 percent, and 65,000 acres, or 1.5 percent. Sulfur is a natural fungicide by both conventional and organic farmers mostly to control powdery mildew on grapes and processing tomatoes.

Major crops that showed an overall increase in pounds of pesticides applied over the previous year included processing tomatoes, wine grapes, pomegranates and pistachios. Major crops that showed an overall decline in pounds applied included carrots, table and raisin grapes, cotton, oranges and almonds. While pounds of pesticides used on almonds and oranges dropped, acres of these crops treated increased, augmenting pesticide exposure to farm workers. Unfortunately, farm worker pesticide poisoning is not uncommon, with several incidents related to these crops above.

The top five counties in order of most pesticide pounds applied in 2009 were Fresno, Kern, Tulare, San Joaquin and Monterey. All are major producers of agricultural products.

Other details from DPR’s 2009 pesticide report that compares 2008 to 2009:
• Use of chemicals classified as toxic air contaminants, most of which are older compounds of high regulatory concern because of their toxicity, declined by 6.7 million pounds and 235,000 acres treated, or 18 percent and 8 percent, respectively. These chemicals are used in a variety of crops.
• Use of chemicals classified as reproductive toxins declined by 998,000 pounds and 146,000 acres treated, or 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
• Use of chemicals classified as probable or known carcinogens declined by 4.5 million pounds and280, 000 acres treated, or 19 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
• Use of chemicals classified as ground water contaminants declined in use by 182,000 pounds and 114,000 acres treated, or 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
• Use of oil pesticides declined by 1.7 million pounds and 126,000 acres, or 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Most oils serve as an alternative to highly toxic pesticides and used by organic farmers.
• Use of cholinesterase-inhibiting pesticides continued to decline in use as they have for nearly every year since 1995. The two main classes of these pesticides are organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. From 2008 to 2009, use decreased by 881,000 pounds, or 17 percent, and 918,000 acres, or 21 percent.

Although any decline in toxic pesticide use is noteworthy, it should be noted that despite the viability of organic agriculture, millions of pounds of highly toxic pesticides continue to be used unnecessarily throughout the state. Besides the pesticide highlighted above, pesticides like glyphosate, methyl bromide, pendimethalin, chlorpyrifos, and paraquat-dichloride are some of the top 25 pesticides used in the state. These pesticides are linked to a myriad of adverse health effects including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption and reproductive effects.

Since these pesticides are used in conventional agriculture, our food choices have a direct effect on the health of our environment and those who grow and harvest what we eat. That’s why food labeled organic is the right choice. 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 farm workers and farm families, and stewardship of the earth. See our Organic Food: Eating with a Conscience guide for further information.

DPR has the most extensive pesticide use reporting system in the United States. For more information on California’s 2008 pesticide use statistics, see California DPR’s website.

Take Action: Contact your state pesticide-regulatory agency and ask them to produce a report like California’s for your state. Contact the elected officials of your state and ask that this information be collected and readily available to the public.

There are alternatives to toxic pesticides available for a wide range of pests whether in agriculture, or throughout the urban environment including structural and landscape.

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14
Jan

Renowned Authors, Scientists to Speak at Pesticide Forum in Denver, April 8-9

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2011) Beyond Pesticides, along with the Colorado School of Public Health – Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center, and Denver Beekeeping Association, will be hosting Sustainable Community: Practical solutions for health and the environment, the 29th National Pesticide Forum, April 8-9, 2011 in Denver, CO. This national environmental conference will focus on the links between pesticides, health and the environment and will include sessions on the latest pesticide science and links to specific diseases, impacts on pollinators, organic food and farming, pesticide-free land care and much more. Register online.

Speaker Highlights

Maria Rodale – CEO of Rodale Inc., publisher of Organic Gardening and Prevention magazines, and the largest independent book publisher in the United States, Ms. Rodale is the author of three books. Her most recent work, Organic Manifesto, provides an indispensable and highly readable look at why chemical-free farming unquestionably holds the key to better health for our families-and the planet. Maria also sits on the board of directors of the Rodale Institute. For over sixty-years, the Rodale Institute has been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing their findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest options for people and the planet.

Benjamin Ross, PhD – Author of The Polluters: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment, Mr. Ross is president of the Washington consulting firm, Disposal Safety, Inc. The Polluters reveals the crucial decisions that allowed environmental issues to be trumped by political agendas. It spotlights the leaders of the chemical industry and describes how they applied their economic and political power to prevent the creation of an effective system of environmental regulation. Dr. Ross is both environmental scientist and commentator on current affairs, and has served on committees of the National Academy of Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board.

Registration

Recession Rate: $35 (grassroots activists and Colorado residents), Student/Senior Rate: $35, Standard Rate: $75 (includes membership for non-members), Business rate: $175. Avoid the $25 late fee by registering before March 8th. Registration includes: keynote speakers and panel discussions; interactive, discussion-based workshops; tour and hands-on demonstrations; networking opportunities; organic food and drink (breakfast, lunch and two receptions); Forum packets, printed materials and more. Register online or call 202-543-5450 to register by phone.

Forum Sponsors

Beyond Pesticides (Washington, DC), Denver Beekeeping Association (Denver CO), Colorado School of Public Health – Dept. of Environmental and Occupational Health (Denver, CO), Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center (Denver, CO). We are still seeking sponsors for our 29th National Pesticide Forum, please email info@beyondpesticides or call 202-543-5450 for more information!

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13
Jan

Bayer to Stop Producing Toxic Chemical That Caused Bhopal Disaster

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2011) Bayer CropScience finally announced on January 11 that it would stop producing the toxic chemical methyl isocyanate (MIC), 26 years after it killed thousands and contaminated the community of Bhopal, India. MIC is used to produce carbamate pesticides. Bayer also announced it would stop production of two highly toxic pesticides, aldicarb and carbaryl, which are both products in the carbamate family of pesticides.

“This is an important success after a quarter-century campaign! The company now has to ensure that all workers are offered adequate new jobs,” says Philipp Mmikes from the Coalition against Bayer Dangers (CBG). CBG, based in Germany, introduced several countermotions to Bayer´s Annual Stockholders´ Meetings, demanding that MIC stockpiles at a production plant in Institute WV are dismantled and the frequent spills of hazardous substances stopped.

According to a Bayer press release, the company will be shutting down its Woodbine, Georgia formulation facility and will be closing manufacturing facilities dedicated to carbamate pesticides in Institute. The production operations, which include the manufacture of MIC, will be phased out over the next 18 months and shut down in mid-2012. Though the company denies any connection, the U.S. Chemical Safety board is scheduled to release its final report on the 2008 explosion at the Institute plant next week.

Maya Nye, a spokewoman for the group People Concerned About MIC, told the Charleston Gazette that she was concerned Bayer’s announcement would be depicted as a case of environmental and public safety protections costing jobs. Ms. Nye said, “Instead of taking the opportunity to lead the industry in developing safer technologies, [Bayer] has chosen to take a backseat to its competitors while taking the people of this valley as economic hostages.”

In August 2009, the company announced plans to reduce the storage of MIC in Institute by 80%, a year after two workers were killed when the chemical exploded at the plant. Even with the reduction however, 50,000 pounds of the chemical would still be allowed on site. This is similar to the amount of the chemical that was present in the 1984 Union Carbide-owned plant explosion in Bhopal, India.

Bayer plans to stop producing carbaryl by June 2011. In May of last year, EPA announced that it would impose limits on carbaryl and several other pesticides to protect salmon. However, several groups sued EPA back in December for failing to restrict the pesticides from entering the salmon habitat, and for violating the Endangered Species Act.

EPA announced in August an agreement with Bayer on aldicarb in which it said it would voluntarily cancel the pesticide. This followed the completion of an EPA revised risk assessment indicating that the pesticide did not meet the agency’s food safety standards. In October EPA announced, “To address the most significant risks, Bayer has agreed to first end aldicarb use on citrus and potatoes, and will adopt risk mitigation measures for other uses to protect groundwater resources. The company will voluntarily phase out production of aldicarb by December 31, 2014. All remaining aldicarb uses will end no later than August 2018.”

This new announcement by Bayer suggests that company’s timetable for ending aldicarb product sales will be shortened from the initial EPA deadline of 2016. Without the production of MIC and with the closure of part of the Institute site by mid 2012, Bayer plans to stop selling products containing aldicarb by the end of 2014.

For more information, see Coalition Against Bayer Dangers

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12
Jan

Ruling Strengthens Case for Organic Farmers Impacted by Pesticide Drift

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2011) A Santa Cruz, California, organic herb grower has the right to sue neighboring farm for ‘pesticide drift’. This according to a California’s 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose which upheld Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo’s right to sue the pesticide applicator, Western Farm Service, and let stand the $1 million damage award a jury handed Jacobs Farm two years ago. The ruling makes it clear that pesticide users can be held liable for pesticide drift.

Photo Credit: Cristiana Shaw, Del Cabo Organic Farm

Photo Credit: Cristiana Shaw, Del Cabo Organic Farm

The decision is significant, agriculture and law experts say, because it strengthens the case for organic farmers or anyone else harmed by pesticides to seek legal recourse – even if the pesticide is legally applied. The county’s deputy agricultural commissioner, Lisa LeCoump, said the court decision against Western Farm Services changes the ground rules, making it clear that a sprayer can now be held liable even if no law is broken. While California state law restricts pesticides from being sprayed on neighboring properties, the law doesn’t deal specifically with pesticides that disperse into the air after application and end up someplace else. Attorneys for Western Farm Service argued that since the company had not run afoul of state law, Jacobs Farm did not have the right to sue.

The Court of Appeals, in its ruling, dismissed that argument. The panel contended that the jury could hold the pesticide company liable for tainting the organic crops at Jacobs Farm. The decision stated that applying pesticides that are likely to drift to other people’s property because of climate conditions can be grounds for damages, even if the user has a permit. County permits set only minimum safety standards and do not excuse pesticide users from their duty to act with caution and avoid applications that pose “a reasonable possibility of damage” to others’ crops.

In 2008, a Santa Cruz jury issued the initial verdict against the company awarding $1 million in compensation to Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo after its herbs were contaminated by pesticides. The jury found that organophosphate pesticides, chlorpyrifos, diazinon and dimethoate, had been sprayed on nearby farms’ Brussels sprouts, vaporized and blew onto the organic farm, making the herbs unmarketable and in violation of organic standards. The crops had to be destroyed. The court ruled that pesticide applications by Western Farm Service resulted in trespass of the pesticides onto Jacobs Farm and were legally determined to be a nuisance depriving Jacobs Farm of the right to use and enjoy the land, caused by negligence on the part of Western Farm Services.

An attorney for Western Farm Services said the decision would “impose a serious burden and concern to the industry.” The attorney maintained that a seller or sprayer of pesticide should not be held responsible for what happens days or weeks after chemicals are safely applied.

Under the organic regulations, only approved pesticides may qualify for inclusion (if they meet the organic standards), and the inert ingredients must also be on the National Organic Standards approved list of inerts. Organic standards under the Organic Foods Production Act have strict standards that limit the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, and irradiation is prohibited in organic production.

Organophosphates (OPs) like chlorpyrifos have been found to remain in the air at very high concentrations 24 hours after application. Residues remain on plant surfaces for approximately 10 to 14 days. Data indicate that OPs can accumulate in certain crops and persist in the environment. OPs were the first group of chemicals to go through tolerance reassessment under the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act because they are known to pose risks of acute and chronic toxicity to humans as well as wildlife. They are also considered to be the most likely pesticide to cause an acute poisoning.

For more information on organic agriculture and how to get involved, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Organic program page.

Source: San Jose Mercury News

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11
Jan

EPA Responds to Petition, Proposes Elimination of Toxic Fumigant

(Beyond Pesticides, January, 11, 2011) Responding to a June 2006 petition submitted by Fluoride Action Network, Beyond Pesticides, and Environmental Working Group, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it proposes to eliminate the use of the toxic fumigant sulfuryl fluoride in agriculture and food related applications. The agency plans to cancel all allowable pesticide residue levels (tolerances) for the chemical, finding that, when residues on food products are combined with fluoridated drinking water and toothpaste, public exposure levels are too high. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), EPA is required to ensure that pesticides it has registered for use cannot combine with non-food sources of the same substance to result in unsafe levels of exposure for that chemical.

According to EPA officials, the decision appears to be the first time the agency has granted substantive formal objections to a pesticide tolerance rule based on public health advocates’ evidence that a particular chemical’s use violates the safety standard for aggregate exposures under federal law.

Despite granting the petition’s assertion that total public exposure to fluoride is too high, EPA has denied the petition’s request for an immediate stay of all registered uses of sulfuryl fluoride. Citing “environmental and economic consequences” of an immediate withdrawal, the agency has opted instead for a long-term, three year phase out of several of the chemical’s uses, saying that “the risks from continued sulfuryl fluoride use in the short term is [sic] insignificant.” This seemingly goes against the agency’s stated belief that “aggregate fluoride exposure for infants and children under the age of 7 years old, where drinking water contains high levels of natural fluoride, exceeds the level that can cause severe dental fluorosis.”

Prior to this announcement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and EPA’s Office of Water announced action on fluoride on January 7 in the form of tightening standards for fluoride levels in drinking water, proposing to reduce its recommended maximum level of fluoride in tap water from 1.2 to 0.7 parts per million (ppm), a 42 percent decrease. This means that, because the previous standards were higher, communities across the country that receive fluoridated water have been subjected to unsafe levels of fluoride for decades. Additionally, health advocates at Fluoride Action Network have criticized the new rules, saying that they do not go far enough. However, according to the American Dental Association, newborn babies and infants up to one year of age should not be consuming any fluoridated water. This is particularly significant since the EPA has cited concern about heightened risks to infants as a chief motivator for eliminating sulfuryl fluoride.

Sulfuryl fluoride is a dangerous chemical which has been linked to cancer as well as neurological, developmental, and reproductive damages. Sulfuryl fluoride is acutely moderately toxic by oral exposure (Toxicity Category II) and slightly toxic for acute inhalation (Toxicity Categories III and IV) and dermal vapor toxicity (Toxicity Category IV). Residents and workers are at risk for neurotoxic effects from acute exposure. Subchronic studies on rats have indicated effects on the nervous system, lungs, and brain. Developmental and reproductive effects have also been noted in relevant studies on rats. According to the National Research Council, fluorides might also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and boys exposed to fluoride in drinking water are five times more likely to develop osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

In addition to its health effects, the chemical has been shown to be a highly potent greenhouse gas. Research has shown that it can be as much as 4,000 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, the leading atmospheric contributor to climate change. It currently exists in the atmosphere at much smaller concentrations than CO2, which is why its use must be curtailed before it becomes even more of a concern.

EPA first registered the agricultural use of sulfuryl fluoride in 2004 as an insecticide and established tolerances for a wide range of crops including cereal grains, dried fruits, tree nuts, cocoa beans, and coffee beans. In 2009, despite the urging of health and environmental advocates, Dow AgroSciences was granted permission to sell sulfuryl fluoride for use in sterilizing agricultural fields as well as for fumigation of food storage, handling, and processing facilities.

If EPA makes the proposal final, many uses of the pesticide sulfuryl fluoride would stop within 90 days. A three-year phase-out period would be extended for other uses, including dried nuts and fruits and usage by direct handling facilities like flour mills.

The actions by EPA and HHS represent a growing consensus that the American public is being exposed to excessive fluoride. They amount to admissions that for decades, public health agencies have erroneously reassured the public that fluoride is safe. As a result, generations of children have been exposed to amounts of fluoride that could damage teeth and bones and that emerging science indicates could harm thyroid function and increase risks for bone cancer.

EPA has made its draft assessments public and open for comment for 90 days at Regulations.gov.

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10
Jan

Under Growing Market Pressure, Company Pulls Triclosan from Products

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2011) Since the submission of a federal petition last year calling for the ban of the antibacterial pesticide triclosan from consumer products, along with numerous published studies highlighting the serious adverse effects resulting from exposure, as well as increased consumer awareness, major companies are succumbing to public pressure to remove this chemical from their products. Recently Colgate-Palmolive, makers of Colgate Total and Softsoap antibacterial hand soaps, has removed triclosan from most of its products.

Numerous developments last year, including the petition to ban triclosan submitted by Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch along with over 80 environmental and public health groups, citing triclosan’s violation of numerous federal statues, as well as the increasing scientific data on triclosan’s hormone disrupting effects and long-term environmental contamination, have placed triclosan under media and congressional scrutiny. Companies are now quietly moving to remove triclosan from their products ahead of potential regulatory action and increasing consumer and retailer rejection.

Colgate-Palmolive is reformulating its popular soap products to exclude triclosan. The orange-colored ‘Ultra-Palmolive Antibacterial,’ the antibacterial dish-cleaning liquid will no longer contatin triclosan as its active ingredient and will no longer make the claim of being a “hand soap,” but will strictly be marketed as a dish soap, placing its label claims under the jurisdiction of EPA and not FDA, which has done little to regulate this toxic chemical. Colgate-Palmolive is also removing triclosan from its hand soaps. It formerly marketed Softsoap brand antibacterial hand soap containing triclosan, with a label claiming elimination of 99 percent of germs. It is now rolling out a new line of Softsoap hand soaps, which state that they “wash away bacteria.” Antibacterial soaps have been shown to be no more effective at removing bacteria than regular soap and water. However, Colgate-Palmolive is retaining use of triclosan in its Total brand toothpaste, a line that the company claims fights gingivitis.

Similarly, major retailers like Staples, the world’s largest office products company, are also beginning to identify “bad actor” chemicals whose future use in the products they carry will be reconsidered. Last October, Staples announced a new sustainability strategy for products and packaging, characterizing it as a “Race to the Top” challenge for its key suppliers. The strategy’s initial priority includes collaboratively developed scorecards for both products and packaging. Staples hopes to begin conservations with its suppliers about the possibility of removing these “bad actors” from products and to replace them with alternatives. Among these “bad actor” chemicals is triclosan, along with the pesticides permethrin, and propoxur.

Beyond Pesticides, in partnership with Food and Water Watch and 80 other groups, submitted petitions to both the FDA and EPA requiring that they end the use of all non-medically prescribed triclosan uses on the basis that those uses violate numerous federal statutes. Echoing these petitions, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) also submitted letters of concern to both EPA and FDA. In FDA’s response, the agency acknowledged that soaps containing triclosan offer no additional benefit over regular soap and water. FDA stated that “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. FDA also expressed concern about the development of antibiotic resistance from using antibacterial products and about triclosan’s potential long-term health effects. Last fall, House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter and two colleagues asked FDA to ban triclosan due to the hazards that the chemical poses, including antibiotic resistance and potential health problems leading to higher health care costs.

The scientific literature has extensively linked the uses of triclosan to many health and environmental hazards. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones and possibly fetal development. It is also shown to alter thyroid function, and other studies have found that due to its extensive use in consumer goods, triclosan and its metabolites contaminate waterways and are present in fish, umbilical cord blood and human milk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also found that triclosan is present in the urine of 75% of the U.S. population, with concentrations that have increased by 50% since 2004.

TAKE ACTION: On December 8, 201,0 EPA published Beyond Pesticides’ petition calling for the ban of triclosan in consumer products for public comment. Comments are being accepted until February 7, 2011. Please submit your comments urging the agency to ban this controversial chemical at the Federal docket at www.regulation.gov using docket number: EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0548. Or you can go submit comments directly here. Sample comments can be found here. Email us at info@beyondpesticides.org for action alerts and updates on triclosan.

(Please note that the Regulations.gov site is currently experiencing problems with the Google Chrome and Safari browsers, so if possible please use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox to submit comments. If you are having any additional trouble submitting comments online, please contact the Regulations.gov Help Desk at 1-877-378-5457.) Comments must be submitted by February 7, 2010.

You can also 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.

Source: Reuters

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07
Jan

EPA Cited for Ineffective Regulation of Antimicrobials

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2011) The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a report criticizing the agency’s lack of regulation concerning antimicrobial products. Citing a number of failures, the report finds that the EPA’s Antimicrobial Testing Program (ATP) has been largely inadequate in testing products to ensure safety and efficacy, and has failed to remove products that did not meet program standards.

This report is especially of concern because some antimicrobials, such as triclosan, are known to cause dangerous public health and environmental hazards. Triclosan is one of the most prevalent antibacterial compounds found in products ranging from soaps and toothpastes to fabrics and toys. Studies have increasingly linked triclosan (and its chemical cousin triclocarban), to a range of adverse health and environmental effects, from skin irritation, allergy susceptibility, bacterial, endocrine disruption and compounded antibiotic resistant, tainted water, and dioxin contamination to destruction of fragile aquatic ecosystems.

Through ATP, antimicrobial products including hospital disinfectants and tuberculocides are meant to be tested to ensure that they meet health standards and that the claims on the product labels are accurate. However, OIG has found that “EPA’s implementation of the ATP has not delivered on its mission.” The report highlights the fact that, since 1991, more than 40% of antimicrobials (or 277 of 656) on the market have yet to be tested. Additionally, beginning in December 2008, the process for testing a product relied on manufacturers voluntarily submitting samples to be tested. This method limits the EPA’s ability to enforce regulations, since it could not ensure the scientific purity and integrity of the samples.

A surprisingly high number of products that were eventually tested by ATP failed to meet EPA standards and were found to require regulatory action. Since 2004, an average of one-third of products tested in a year failed. However, according to the report, “EPA does not have a strategy for informing hospitals and other likely end-users of failed test results or when enforcement actions are taken.” It simply relies on posting a notice to the ATP website. This means that ineffective products that can potentially be of risk to public health often remain in use by hospitals and health professionals.

Owing to these findings, the OIG report states that, “Rather than providing increased assurance that antimicrobial products are efficacious, [this case] raises concerns regarding the integrity of EPA’s product registration process.” The effectiveness of EPA in regulating pesticides has previously been brought into question in cases such as, among others, the recent linkage of the registered pesticide clothianidin to adverse impacts on honeybee health. According to the report, “As currently executed, the ATP does not ensure that hospital disinfectants and tuberculocides in the marketplace meet efficacy standards,” meaning that there is no way for the public to be confident that the products they are using hold up to manufacturer claims.

Antimicrobials are of particular concern due to the potentially dangerous effects they can have on human and environmental health. One of the most serious problems associated with their use is antibacterial resistance. There is substantial evidence that widespread use of antibacterial compounds promote the emergence of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotic medications and antibacterial cleansers. This makes antibacterial resistance a national health concern, due to the fact that it can make infections difficult or impossible to treat. In addition to bacterial resistance, another common concern stems from the potential of antimicrobials such as triclosan to lead to the formation of dioxin, either when they are synthesized or when they are incinerated. Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical which has been linked to cancer, weakened immune systems and reproductive problems.

While the OIG has concluded that the efficacy of many antimicrobials under the purview of ATP cannot be assured, there is, fortunately, one treatment proven to be effective at preventing household illness and infection that can be found in virtually every home and workplace across the country: soap and water. This simple treatment renders dangerous chemicals such as triclosan completely unnecessary. An article in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, entitled “Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective or Just Risky?” (2007), concludes that antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain soaps. This follows a recommendation by the FDA Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee on October 20, 2005 in a statement that antibacterial soaps and washes are no more effective than regular soap and water in fighting infections.

TAKE ACTION:
We need your help before February 7, 2011! Your voice is critical in generating public comments on a petition, published in the Federal Register, calling on the EPA to remove triclosan from the market. We only have four more weeks to let EPA know that triclosan must be banned to protect the public, workers and the environment.

Submit electronic comments to the EPA at www.regulations.gov using docket number: EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0548. Or you can go submit comments directly here. Please note that the Regulations.gov site is currently experiencing problems with the Google Chrome and Safari browsers, so if possible please use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox to submit comments. If you are having any additional troubles submitting comments online, please contact the Regulations.gov Help Desk at 1-877-378-5457. Comments must be submitted by February 7, 2010.

For more information, including suggested sample comments see our Daily News story from January 4, 2011. Please send your own comments and notify your networks, listserves, faith organizations, etc. and post on your website, urging other people/organizations to comment. Click here for the document you can use to publicize the public comment period on the Ban Triclosan petition.

Additionally, you can 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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06
Jan

Methyl Iodide Use Challenged by Farmworkers, Environmental Groups

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2011) On Monday, a coalition of farmworkers, community activists and environmental health organizations announced a lawsuit challenging the approval of the toxic fumigant methyl iodide for use on California’s strawberry fields, urging the new Governor Jerry Brown to reverse the decision. The groups also submitted comments from over 52,000 members of the public urging Gov. Brown to act quickly to prevent the use of methyl iodide in California’s fields.

Source: LA Times

Source: LA Times

The lawsuit was filed late last week by Earthjustice and California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. on behalf of Pesticide Action Network North America, United Farm Workers of America, Californians for Pesticide Reform, Pesticide Watch Education Fund, Worksafe, Communities and Children Advocates Against Pesticide Poisoning and farmworkers Jose Hidalgo Ramon and Zeferino Estrada.

The suit challenges the state Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) December 20 approval of methyl iodide for use in California on the grounds that it violates the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Birth Defects Prevention Act, and the Pesticide Contamination Prevention Act that protects groundwater against pesticide pollution. In addition, the suit contends that DPR violated the law requiring involvement of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) in the development of farmworker safety regulations and made an unlawful finding of emergency with its request for Restricted Materials status for methyl iodide.

“The public has been shocked, wondering how methyl iodide could be approved under California law. The truth is that DPR played too fast and loose with their decision,” said Greg Loarie, Attorney with Earthjustice. “They exceeded their legal authority and have put the public and farmworkers at great risk of harm.”

In deciding to approve methyl iodide, DPR shunned the findings of top scientists—including the state’s own Scientific Review Committee—who have consistently said that the chemical is too dangerous to be used in agriculture. Upon hearing the decision, Dr. John Froines, chair of the Committee, told press, “I honestly think that this chemical will cause disease and illness. And so does everyone else on the committee.” Theodore Slotkin, another panel member and professor of pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke University, wrote, “It is my personal opinion that this decision will result in serious harm to California citizens, and most especially to children.”

Methyl iodide causes late term miscarriages, contaminates groundwater and is so reliably carcinogenic that it’s used to create cancer cells in laboratories. It is on California’s official list of known carcinogenic chemicals and has been linked to serious risks in reproductive and neurological health.

The pesticide poses the most direct risks to farmworkers and those in the surrounding communities because of the volume that would be applied to fields and its tendency to drift off site through the air. It is approved to be applied to California’s strawberry fields at rates up to 100 pounds per acre on much of the state’s 38,000 acres in strawberry production, totaling millions of pounds of use. Though methyl iodide will likely be used primarily on strawberries, it is also registered for use on tomatoes, peppers, nurseries and on soils prior to replanting orchards and vineyards.

“It’s farmworkers like me who become sick,” said plaintiff Jose Hidalgo. “As a strawberry picker, I have worked near many pesticide applications. First we smell the pesticides. Then our eyes burn, our noses run and our throats hurt. I’m against using methyl iodide because it’s already too dangerous in the fields, we don’t need new, even more dangerous, toxins.”

In 2007, EPA fast-tracked the registration of methyl iodide (a Proposition 65 carcinogen) for use as a soil fumigant despite serious concerns raised by a group of over 50 eminent scientists, including six Nobel Laureates in Chemistry. These scientists sent a letter of concern to EPA explaining, “Because of methyl iodide’s high volatility and water solubility, broad use of this chemical in agriculture will guarantee substantial releases to air, surface waters and groundwater, and will result in exposures for many people. In addition to the potential for increased cancer incidence, EPA’s own evaluation of the chemical also indicates that methyl iodide causes thyroid toxicity, permanent neurological damage, and fetal losses in experimental animals.” The letter concludes, “It is astonishing that the Office of Pesticide Programs (of EPA) is working to legalize broadcast releases of one of the more toxic chemicals used in manufacturing into the environment.”

Since then, the more protective registration processes in New York State and Washington State both rejected methyl iodide, and in August 2010, California Senator Dianne Feinstein asked the US EPA to review the pesticide’s registration nationally. The agency has said that it will open a public comment period on the pesticide’s approval due to the “complexity of the issues raised and the public interest in methyl iodide.”

“A lot of consumers think of organic produce in terms of how it affects their diet and their health,” said Michael Marsh, directing attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance Inc,to The Californian. “But the best reason to look for alternatives isn’t really to protect people further down the line; it is to protect the health of the workers and the people who live nearby.”

Organic agriculture does not allow the use toxic chemicals that have been shown to cause a myriad of chronic health effects, such as cancer, endocrine disruption and a series of degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, a study released late last year showed that organic farms produced more flavorful and nutritious strawberries while leaving the soil healthier and more genetically diverse than conventional strawberry farms. Support organic farming and protect farmers, farmworkers, and their families and neighbors from toxic chemicals.

For more information on organic versus conventional agricultural practices, see Beyond Pesticides’ new guide, Organic Food: Eating with a Conscience, urging consumers to consider impacts on the environment, farmworker and farm families’ health –in addition to personal health impacts posed by pesticide residues– when making food choices.

Source: PANNA Press Release
The Californian

Photo: LA Times

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05
Jan

Public Comment Needed on Ban Triclosan Petition by Feb.7, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2011) Your voice is critical in generating public comments on a petition, published in the Federal Register, to ban the antibacterial chemical triclosan. As you may know, this chemical, now found in the bodies of 75% of the U.S. population, is linked to endocrine disruption, bacterial and antibiotic resistance, dioxin contamination, and contaminated fish and biosolids.

We have five more weeks –until February 7, 2011– to let EPA know that triclosan must be banned to protect the public, workers and the environment. Click here for the document you can use to publicize the public comment period on Ban Triclosan petition or email info@beyondpesticides for the word version.

EPA published in the Federal Register a petition, filed by 82 public health and environmental groups, to ban the hazardous antimicrobial/antibacterial pesticide triclosan for non-medical use. The chemical is found in products from clothing to soaps. The Federal Register notice (Petition for a Ban on Triclosan, 75 FR 76461, December 8, 2010) announces a public comment period until February 7, 2011 on the need to ban triclosan under numerous federal statutes from pesticides, clean water, safe drinking water, to endangered species.

SUGGESTED ACTION AND SAMPLE PUBLIC COMMENT:
Please send your own comments (see suggested language below) and notify your networks, listserves, faith organizations, etc. and post on your website, urging other people/organizations to comment. Thanks!

Suggested Language (unique comments are extremely helpful). Submit electronic comments to the EPA at www.regulations.gov using docket number: EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0548. Or you can go submit comments directly here. Please note that the Regulations.gov site is currently experiencing problems with the Google Chrome and Safari browsers, so if possible please use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox to submit comments. If you are having any additional troubles submitting comments online, please contact the Regulations.gov Help Desk at 1-877-378-5457. Comments must be submitted by February 7, 2010.

Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP)
Regulatory Public Docket (7502P)
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20460-0001

Re: Petition for a Ban on Triclosan. Docket Number: EPAHQOPP20100548

I am writing to support the concerns raised in the petition regarding the prevalence of the toxic pesticide triclosan in consumer products. Research has shown that triclosan poses a threat to human health, contaminates water and persists in the environment. EPA has a responsibility under the law to protect the health of the public and the environment and must move to do so now. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds triclosan concentrations are increasing in the human population, triclosan is too dangerous a chemical to be allowed in consumer products as it is causing involuntary exposure directly and through environmental contamination. Triclosan has been linked to:

- endocrine disruption as it interferes with the thyroid hormone, estrogen and androgen hormones and as a result can impact fetal development
- bacterial resistance and possible cross-resistance to antibiotics
- contaminated biosolids that are used for compost and agricultural fertilizer
- toxic and more persistent breakdown products including dioxins and other endocrine disruptors
- accumulation in plants, crustaceans and is toxic to amphibians, algal communities and certain fish species

Since triclosan is no more effective than regular soap and water at reducing bacteria, there is absolutely no need for triclosan to be incorporated into consumer products, given the hazards to people and the environment. I sincerely hope your agency takes the threats posed by triclosan seriously and moves quickly to rid this chemical from consumer products.

Sincerely,
Your Name
Organization, Concerned Citizen, etc.

Background:
The petition, filed on January 14, 2010, identifies pervasive and widespread use of triclosan and a failure of EPA to: (i) address the impacts posed by triclosans degradation products on human health and the environment, (ii) conduct separate assessment for triclosan residues in contaminated drinking water and food, and (iii) evaluate concerns related to antibacterial resistance and endocrine disruption. The petition cites violations of numerous environmental statutes, including laws on pesticide registration, the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. It also documents that triclosan is no more effective than regular soap and water in removing germs and therefore creates an unnecessary hazardous exposure for people and the environment. Regulated by both EPA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, triclosan is commonly found in clothing, toys, kitchen utensils and cutting boards, hair brushes, computer keyboards, countertops, plastics, facial tissues, hand soaps, cosmetics, toothpastes, deodorants, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, antiseptics, and medical devices. The petition to EPA seeks expedited action to ban household triclosan, challenging serious deficiencies in EPAs September 2008 re-registration of triclosan and its failure to comply with safety laws.

Research indicates that widespread use of triclosan causes a number of serious health and environmental problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds in its 2009 report, National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, and 2010 update that triclosan is in the bodies of 75% of the U.S. population and its levels are increasing. A critical health concern is triclosans association with bacterial resistance to antibiotic medications and cleansers, a special problem for vulnerable populations such as infants, patients, and the elderly. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones, which potentially increases cancer risk. Recent studies show triclosans adverse effects on fetal growth and development. Further, the pesticide accumulates in biosolids, is taken up by food crops, and breaks down to different forms of dioxin, thereby exposing consumers to even more dangerous chemicals. “Were calling on the public to urge EPA to consider the full extent of triclosan’s impact on people’s health and the environment and ban its non-medical uses,” said Jay Feldman executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

For more information, please contact:
Jay Feldman | jfeldman@beyondpesticides.org
Nichelle Harriott | nharriott@beyondpesticides.org
Beyond Pesticides, 202-543-5450

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04
Jan

Carcinogenic Pollutant Found in Drinking Water Across U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2011) A report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) finds that drinking water in 31 cities across the country is contaminated with hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, a carcinogenic chemical contaminant with numerous sources including treated wood utility poles that line streets and backyards across the the United States. Wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA), such as playgrounds, decks, and railroad ties, in addition to utility poles, can leach the chemicals into soils and groundwater, creating serious risks to public health. Other common sources of chromium-6 pollution include discharge from steel and pulp mills as well as metal-plating and leather-tanning facilities. It can also pollute water through erosion of natural deposits.

The use of CCA in the treatment of utility poles is notable not only because of the presence of poles in numerous communities throughout the country, but also because utility companies often donate or sell decommissioned poles, which are then used by homeowners to line walkways and gardens or create structures around the yard, unknowingly contributing to the proliferation of these toxic substances. Beyond Pesticides has worked on the issue of wood treatments, including CCA, since the mid-1980s and has advocated for the adoption of alternative treatments and materials by utility companies. The use of alternative materials, such as recycled steel or concrete, eliminates the need to use toxic preservatives such as CCA, dramatically reducing the risk of chemical contamination to local communities. Read our program page on wood preservatives to learn more about these chemicals and how you can take action to help eliminate them.

Despite mounting evidence of the toxic effects of chromium-6, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not set a legal limit for the contaminant in tap water and does not require water utilities to test for it. However, shortly after the release of the EWG report, EPA announced that it will work with local communities address the levels of chromium-6 in their water. The agency is also currently in the process of reviewing its approach to chromium and is deciding whether or not to set a specific limit on chromium-6. Currently, the limits only apply to “total chromium,” which includes trivalent chromium, an essential nutrient for human metabolism, in addition to the toxic hexavalent form.

The authoritative National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has said that chromium-6 in drinking water shows “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity” in laboratory animals, increasing the risk of gastrointestinal tumors. Just last October, a draft review by the EPA similarly found that ingesting the chemical in tap water is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” Other health risks associated with exposure include liver and kidney damage, anemia and ulcers.

In response to the NTP study and others, California last year became the first state to propose setting a public health goal for chromium-6 in drinking water of 0.06 parts per billion (ppb) – setting the stage for establishing a statewide enforceable limit.

The hazards of chromium-6 contamination first came to light in 1993, when Erin Brockovich helped build a now-famous class action lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) for polluting the water supply of Hinkley, Calif. The suit eventually led to a $333 million settlement.

“Every single day, pregnant mothers in Norman, Oklahoma, school children in Madison, Wisconsin, and many other Americans are drinking water laced with this cancer-causing chemical,” said EWG senior scientist Rebecca Sutton, Ph.D. “If the EPA required local water utilities to test for hexavalent chromium, the public would at least know if it was present in their local water. Without mandatory tests and a safe legal limit that all utilities must meet, many of us will continue to swallow some quantity of this carcinogen every day.”

“It is sometimes difficult to understand why I still have to warn the public about the presence of hexavalent chromium in drinking water 23 years after my colleagues and I first sounded the alarm,” said Ms. Brockovich. “This report underscores, in fairly stark terms, the health risks that millions of Americans still face because of water contamination.”

In 25 cities tested by EWG, concentrations of chromium-6 in tap water were higher than California’s proposed public health limit. In Norman, Okla. (population 90,000), the level was more than 200 times the state’s proposed safe level.

The 31 cities shown to have chromium-polluted tap water draw from utilities that collectively serve more than 26 million people. In California, the only state that requires testing for chromium-6, utilities have reported detecting the compound in tap water supplied to more than 31 million people, according to an EWG analysis of data from the state water agency.

Concerned consumers can dramatically reduce the amount of the chemical in their drinking water by investing in a reverse osmosis filtration system for the home. There is no legal limit for hexavalent chromium in bottled water either, so consumers cannot assume it is free of the contaminant.

Source: EWG Press Release

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03
Jan

Sustainable Farming System in West Africa Minimizes Toxic Chemicals, Improves Farmer Livelihood

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2011) The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced the initial results of an experimental program in West Africa that reduces farmers’ use of pesticides and chemical inputs while increasing yields and income. The program, entitled the West African Regional Integrated Production and Pest Management Program, evaluated the use of ecological management versus conventional practices on vegetables, cotton, and grain crops in the countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal. The evaluation shows dramatic decreases in pesticide usage, reduced environmental degradation, as well as increases in farmer income through higher yields and reduced inputs.

According to the FAO (which previously advocated for organic agriculture), the goals of the program, which is ongoing, are “building local farming capacity, improving food security and livelihoods, and raising awareness of negative externalities and positive alternatives.” These are accomplished through training farmers in what the FAO calls integrated production and pest management (IPPM) methods so that they can reduce toxic inputs and pollution while enhancing soil fertility and retaining more of their income. The particular methods of IPPM include reducing pesticide usage, soil building through incorporation of compost and manure and the planting of cover crops, careful monitoring of pests using biological controls only when needed, and the introduction of beneficial insects, such as pollinators. For more information on integrated pest management in the home and community, visit our IPM page.

The farmers were trained using a technique developed by the FAO called Farmer Field Schools, which consists of groups of about 25 farmers who are educated throughout the growing season in IPPM practices and decide as a group how best to farm their test plot. Each group divides their test plot in half, with one half being farmed with IPPM methods and the other according to commonly accepted practices in the community. From 2002 to 2009, there were over 80,000 farmers trained through these schools, with that number expected to be more than 100,000 at the start of the new year.

One of the outcomes of the program was a significant reduction in pesticide usage, as in the case of 80 surveyed vegetable farmers, whose use of commercial synthetic pesticides went from 3.5 liters per hectare to about a quarter of a liter per hectare after going through the training – a reduction of 92%, representing savings to the farmers of about $60(US) per hectare in pesticide expenses. The percentage of farmers in this survey who used toxic pesticides went from 97% to 12% after incorporating IPPM methods into their farming operations. This reduction in chemical usage through ecological practices was a priority of the program so that farmers would not “run the risk [of] being vulnerable to commercial pressures to use pesticides.”

In addition to pesticide reduction, the introduction of soil management schemes sought to reduce pollution from runoff of fertilizers and prevent the erosion of topsoil. This was accomplished through the incorporation of compost and manure into agricultural fields as natural fertilizers. Compost use by rice, cotton, and vegetable farmers in Benin increased by 260% through the training offered by the Farmer Field Schools. This represents great potential for preventing pollutants from fertilizer runoff from entering waterways and drinking water supplies.

The practices implemented by farmers who participated in the program resulted not only in a reduction of environmental degradation, but also a significant increase in farmer incomes. This occurred due to the increased yields that farmers experienced coupled with the increased net value of their products, due to minimized needs for expensive chemical inputs. In the case of the 80 surveyed vegetable farmers, the net value of their crops after having gone through the program increased by over $1000(US) per hectare. Additionally, figures from rice farmers in Senegal show that their yields increased by more than a ton per hectare using the more sustainable methods.

Previous research has shown that organic agriculture can be at least as equally productive as conventional, chemical-reliant systems. A collaborative study from 2005 involving the Rodale Institute, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, and the University of Maryland, which evaluated organic versus conventional cropping systems over a 22 year period, showed equal yields for corn and soybeans, with the organic yields increasing after several years. Additionally, the study found that the organic production system requires 30% less energy. Perhaps more notably, a 2007 study from the University of Michigan reveals that in the developing world the use of organic production methods can dramatically increase the amount of food produced, doubling and sometimes tripling yields. Research such as this, coupled with further data from Rodale as well as the UN, effectively lay to rest the claim that organic agriculture cannot produce enough food to serve the world’s ever-growing population.

Beyond Pesticides is a strong supporter of sustainable agriculture through organic production systems. Food produced organically does not harm the natural environment and reduces the potential for harmful health effects that result from the use of toxic chemicals. Programs such as the FAO’s IPPM project demonstrate that sustainable food production systems, such as organic, truly are viable alternatives to industrial, chemically intensive agriculture and that toxic, expensive, and ecologically damaging pesticides are not necessary to grow bountiful food. These systems provide the path to a future where we can grow food while continuing to protect our natural resources and our collective health. To see our work in support of organics and to learn what you can do to help, visit our organic program page.

Source: FAO

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23
Dec

Happy Holidays from Beyond Pesticides!

Beyond Pesticides wishes our members and friends a healthy, happy and organic New Year! Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News is taking a holiday break and will return on Monday, January 3, 2010 with restored energy and vision to continue charging ahead.

As we reflect on the successes of the last year and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, one thing is clear –your support of Beyond Pesticides is instrumental to what we do. We continue to reaffirm the critical importance of grassroots advocacy in a political climate prone to compromises that adversely affect people and the environment. As a result, our efforts in support of people and communities across the country are a critical factor in advancing the protections that people want and need for their family and community.

This holiday season, consider a donation to Beyond Pesticides in support of our continued work at a very practical level –giving people the tools that are needed to adopt safe land and building management practices, and advocate for a legacy of policy changes in our towns, cities, and nation.

While our job has become more challenging since the last election, we must not lose the momentum that we have developed to shift away from pesticide-dependent and toward healthy and sustainable practices. In the current political climate, Beyond Pesticides will do what it does best –bridge the (i) serious concerns about pesticides’ toxic hazards with the expertise of pest management practitioners who eliminate hazardous pesticide use, and (ii) successful non-toxic strategies with meaningful policy change.

Key to our work is the knowledge that the vast majority of toxic pesticide use on a daily basis is not necessary and can be replaced by a combination of sustainable practices and non-toxic products. Our daily work –and all the tools that we develop to support local action– raises central issues that challenge toxic chemical dependency with science, and intends to be transformational in improving the country’s approach to toxics policy regulation.

We take a very proactive stance, identifying opportunities to bring Beyond Pesticides’ vision to the table, reach out to voice our positions, bring grassroots organizations into the decision making process at all levels, and serve in a leadership capacity to reform the approach of the marketplace and government to toxic chemicals. The tools and campaigns we are asking you to support help local people and organizations to be effective change agents.

Beyond Pesticides is a leader in advancing standards and practices for a sustainable future. Every day we challenge the conventional wisdom that suggests we need toxic pesticides to maintain our quality of life, protect our health, and grow our food.

We need your support to:

Institutionalize practices that effect a reduction in pesticide use. We assist with solutions to everyday pest issues that people confront in their homes, communities, institutions (schools, hospitals, workplaces) and in agriculture. While we cast a broad net in assisting people, we develop models to serve as examples, track data, and develop new tools: Beyond Pesticides’ Eating with a Conscience, Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database, Gateway on Pesticide Hazards and Safe Pest Management, Safety Source for Pest Management, and our standards definition for pest management in Ending Toxic Dependency and in the School Environment Protection Act. We address the pesticide problem and its solution on many levels, including the local, state and federal level, from a science, policy and grassroots perspective. We constantly strive to improve our website as a practical informational tool.

Campaign leading to the adoption of precautionary approach policy. We work at the local, state and national level to put in place policies that improve and offer the broadest possible protections for people and our country. Our goal is at least ten new jurisdictions (town, city, state) in the next year that serve as solid models in achieving policy change, like the statewide parks department policy in New York State and Greenbelt, Maryland’s adoption of an organic public land management policy. Our approach is captured in model national legislation (H.R. 4159, the School Environment Protection Act) that favors alternatives assessment over risk assessments, leading to the rejection of unnecessary pesticide use.

Build the integrity and growth of organic agriculture. We will (i) maximize our opportunity on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to lead on regulatory decisions, striving for organic standards that adhere to sustainability goals in compliance with the law’s vision and limitations on allowable substances and practices, (ii) increase consumer trust and support for organic as the solution to toxic pesticide contamination, and (iii) build broader environmental and health community involvement on key issues.

We invite you to visit our new Eating with a Conscience database and share it with family and friends to broaden our message by helping others connect food purchasing decisions with the effect of our choices on the environment and worker protection. Your support will help us launch a new organic action webpage, engage the public in decisions, and help organic food production grow.

Thanks for considering a donation at the end of 2010 with just a few clicks! And, best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season. See us again on January 3, 2011!

 

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22
Dec

New York to Mitigate Impact of Pesticides on Groundwater

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2010)The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has created a pesticide use committee to look for ways to reduce the impact of more than 100 pesticides found in Long Island’s groundwater.

In an effort to strengthen the protection of the sole source aquifer that supplies Long Island’s drinking water, and area lakes, ponds and bays, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced the creation of a consortium of public and private stakeholders to develop a Long Island Pesticide Use Management Plan. The committee, which first met November 30, 2010, will create the Plan that focuses on mitigating the impact of pesticides on groundwater.

The plan, according to the Department’s Regional Director Peter A. Scully, is being prepared in response to the past discovery of more than 100 pesticides and pesticide breakdown products in Long Island’s groundwater. The overall goal of the plan, Mr. Scully said, is to prevent adverse effects to human health and the environment by protecting Long Island’s groundwater and surface water resources from pesticide contamination, while continuing to meet the needs of agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional pest management.

“The importance of this effort is underscored by the broad representation of many diverse interests, all of whom agree that reducing the introduction of toxic materials into Long Island’s environment is of paramount importance,” said Mr. Scully. “Never before in history has such a capable and balanced group joined together to work cooperatively with the goals of strengthening the protection of our drinking water supply, and our surface waters.”

While Suffolk County Water Authority and other public water suppliers treat groundwater to remove contaminants, private wells that draw water from groundwater reserves ordinarily do not, which can pose a health risk. High levels of pesticides in drinking water can cause birth defects, damage to the nervous system and, in some cases, cancer. Visit Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide Induced Disease Database for more information on pesticides and pesticide induced diseases. A key component of the plan involves examining preventive measures and steps that can be taken to minimize the potential for pesticides to impact groundwater resources. Potential measures could involve taking actions before pesticides are detected in groundwater or measures that can be taken after a pesticide is detected in groundwater resources.

The DEC-led committee, made up of government officials, pesticide applicators, agriculture representatives and environmentalists, is expected to release a final plan next year. The plan will shape the DEC’s policies for reducing pesticide-related threats to Long Island’s drinking water.

Every year, homeowners, farmers, groundskeepers and exterminators apply millions of pounds and hundreds of thousands of gallons of pesticides to control pests. Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, and 23 have the potential to leach. 2,4-D, found in weed and feed and other lawn products, is the herbicide most frequently detected in streams and shallow ground water from urban lawns. The committee will develop policies to encourage Long Islanders to manage pests with some of the least-toxic pesticides as well as environmentally-friendly methods that do not contain pesticides at all.

Previous U.S. Geological Survey data have found that U.S. waterways and groundwater are contaminated with toxic substances including fertilizers, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other industrial chemicals. Chemicals, even those detected at low-levels, are increasingly being linked to serious health and developmental effects, well below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standards and levels of concern. According to a Beyond Pesticides report, Threatened Waters: Turning the Tide on Pesticide Contamination, over 50% of the U.S. population draws its drinking water supply from groundwater. Once groundwater has been contaminated, it takes many years or even decades to recover.

For more information on the effects of water contamination, read “Reproductive Effects Peak with Pesticide Exposure,” a talk given by Paul Winchester, M.D., at Beyond Pesticides April 2010 National Pesticide Forum at Case Western Reserve Medical School and published in our latest issue of Pesticides and You. For more information on drinking water and contaminants found in drinking water, read Beyond Pesticides’ “Threatened Waters,” and see the Pesticide Induced Disease Database for links between chemical exposure and diseases.


Source: NorthFork Patch

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21
Dec

British Government Ignores Calls to Improve Pesticide Regulation

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2010) Despite the urging of over 100 groups, including the British Medical Association, for an overhaul of its pesticide regulations, the UK Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) ruled last week that little action is required. The government was responding to the need to adapt to the European Union (EU) Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides and Regulation on Plant Protection Product Authorizations. The directives, which will take effect at the end of 2011, are aimed at ensuring that EU member states are working to reduce pesticide usage and are taking adequate precautions when chemicals are used, however, they provide little incentive for governments to change their regulatory stance.
Accordingly, DEFRA has deemed existing laws and regulations adequate in addressing the dangers posed by pesticide usage.

There are a number of provisions in these directives that encourage member states to address pesticide usage, requiring such measures as implementing strict guidelines surrounding the sale and inspection of pesticides and application equipment, requiring governments to inform the public about the risks associated with pesticides, limiting or completely eliminating aerial spraying of pesticides, ensuring drinking water supplies and aquatic ecosystems are protected from runoff, and requiring or supporting the establishment of integrated pest management (IPM) systems.

In nearly every instance, except where it was clearly prohibited by the EU directives, the UK government chose to rely solely on existing laws and procedures, ignoring the input it had sought from medical, consumer, and public advocacy groups, which largely declared that existing regulations are far too weak. One of the most contentious elements contained in the pesticide products regulation concerned an optional provision that would require the notification of local residents when pesticides are being applied. Tom Levitt of The Ecologist wrote of this that “DEFRA’s own consultation on the issue admitted that the public believed the current voluntary approach was not working and that public signs indicating spraying had taken place should be compulsory.” However, the agency has deemed notification of the public unnecessary, adding that it encourages farmers and sprayers to “develop good relationships with their neighbors” and only notify them if they choose.

Another key element of the regulation, which brought widespread input from the public, was the minimization or prohibition of the use of pesticides on areas used by vulnerable groups, such as (according to the regulation) “pregnant and nursing women, the unborn, infants and children, the elderly and workers and residents subject to high pesticide exposure over the long term.” This would include areas such as schools, playgrounds, public parks, and sports arenas in addition to the properties of residents who live adjacent to fields that are sprayed. Ignoring strong evidence of the toxic nature of pesticides as well as testimony from the public, DEFRA has stated only that they “do not consider that it is necessary to prohibit the use of pesticides in public spaces or conservation areas or to impose new statutory controls on pesticide use in these areas. We believe that the UK can meet its obligations under the Directive through existing statutory and voluntary control measures and by developing additional voluntary guidance.”

UK pesticide activist Georgina Downs, speaking to The Ecologist, said, “the prohibition of the use of pesticides in the locality of homes, schools, children’s playgrounds, hospitals and public areas is absolutely crucial for public health protection, especially that of vulnerable groups.” She also called it “outrageous” that DEFRA fails to see the need to eliminate pesticides from public areas.

For more information, see DEFRA’s consultation page and the summary of responses, including the government’s decisions on how it will move forward concerning each stipulation of the directives.

In the United States, Beyond Pesticides has long advocated for the minimization and elimination of pesticides everywhere, including from public spaces such as schools and parks. Their toxic nature makes them dangerous to human and environmental health, and successful IPM models have shown that they are unnecessary. Strong regulatory action is needed in order to ensure that these chemicals stay out of our lives. However, regulatory agencies all too often continue allowing dangerous pesticides to be used and need to be pressured to maintain their integrity and to continue to act for the public good. Visit Beyond Pesticides’ Watchdogging the Government page to learn about how we are keeping the regulatory process strong and view our How-To Factsheets to see how to support organic and IPM practices and eliminate pesticides from your home and community.

Source: The Ecologist

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20
Dec

Scientists Examine Chlorpyrifos Levels in Potatoes

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2010) A new study examines the residue levels of the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos in Colombian potatoes, finding that residual levels of the pesticide are still present even after being cooked. According to researchers, the pesticide has a tendency to build up in the raw potatoes, but once they were cooked, the levels dropped by 14%, leaving a fraction of the allowable levels of chlorpyrifos in the potato, under European Union (EU) daily intake limits. While it may be true that there are relatively low residual levels of the pesticide found in the potato once it has been cooked, many adocates are concerned about the remaining residues. The study, entitled “Pesticide Uptake in Potatoes: Model and Field Experiments,” was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

The fact that there remains some residual chlorpyrifos in the cooked potatoes is a concern because studies show that even at low doses, in utero exposure can cause changes in brain function and altered thyroid levels that last into adulthood. Young children are particularly susceptible to the effects of exposure. Because children’s diets often include significant quantities of potatoes, this is particularly alarming in light of a recent study that found children have a higher dietary exposure to pesticides and take in a higher toxic load than previously thought.

The study also cites detectable levels of other pesticides used to grow potatoes, including DDT, still in the soil in the potato fields. If they are still detectable in the soil, then they may still leach into groundwater or be ingested by wildlife and proliferate in the natural environment. This only further supports those seeking to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals that may still be present in our food and soil generations after it has been banned.

Chlorpyrifos, though allowed by the EU, is not registered for use on potatoes grown in the U.S. or imported into the country. It continues to be used, however, for other agricultural purposes. In October of this year, Beyond Pesticides and over 13,000 other organizations sent a letter to the EPA, calling for a ban on chlorpyrifos and a phase out of other organophosphate (OP) pesticides. Chlorpyrifos was phased out for residential use under a 2000 agreement between EPA and Dow Agrosciences but continues to expose farmworkers and consumers through its use in agriculture. EPA’s decision in 2000 and subsequent action removed chlorpyrifos’ residential uses but retains all agricultural uses except tomatoes (allowable residues on apples and grapes were adjusted), golf course and public health mosquito spraying. The agency argued at the time of its decision that it had adequately mitigated risks through the removal of high exposure uses to children in the residential setting, but ignored the special risks to farmworkers’ children, as well as the availability of alternative agricultural practices and products that made chlorpyrifos unnecessary and therefore its risks unreasonable.

Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxic insecticide whose use was found to exceed acceptable rates of illness, especially to children. By focusing on risk reduction strategies to come up with “acceptable,” but unnecessary, rates of illness across the population, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has virtually ignored the chemical’s widespread use in agriculture, resulting in exposure to farmworkers, farm families and others living near agricultural areas. It is also a frequent water contaminant and a long range contaminant, exposing communities and contaminating pristine areas far from where it was applied. Short term effects of exposure to chlorpyrifos include chest tightness, blurred vision, headaches, coughing and wheezing, weakness, nausea and vomiting, coma, seizures, and even death. Prenatal and early childhood exposure has been linked to low birth weights, developmental delays, ADHD and other health effects.

What is truly of concern, however, is that this pesticide is used at all, considering its documented persistence in the natural environment and its detrimental effect on air and waterways. In addition to harmful residues in the food, there are many other things to consider with the use of toxic pesticides for food production. As can be seen in Beyond Pesticides’ Eating with a Conscience guide, the health of farmworkers and farm communities as well as the integrity of our soil, water, and other natural resources is put at risk by the practices of chemical agriculture, exemplified by this case.

The best alternative to these practices and the only way to know that you are not supporting chemical agriculture is to buy organically produced food. Beyond Pesticides advocates for the national conversion to organic systems planning, which moves chemicals off the market quickly and replaces them with green management practices. The effects that chemicals such as chlorpyrifos have on the natural environment, in addition to untold damage it has caused families across the U.S., is testimony to the need to adopt alternatives assessments that force chemicals off the market that can be replaced by safer or green practices. Despite agency efforts to use failed risk assessment decision making to claim that the food supply is safe and the environment protected, an informed public is driving the growth of organic production in the marketplace, choosing health and environmental protection over risk assessment. It is a process that can be supported through purchasing decisions everyday in the grocery store and advocacy that effects a conversion of land and building management in parks, schools, lawns and gardens, health care facilities, indoor and outdoor spaces to nontoxic and least-toxic methods. Visit our Organic Program page to learn more and to discover what you can do to support organic production.

Take Action: EPA announced earlier this month that it is seeking public comment until December 20 on a draft stipulation in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that will suspend further litigation with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) on the claim that EPA has unreasonably delayed its response to their 2007 petition to cancel all uses and revoke all tolerances for the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Under the draft Stipulation and Order, the case will be suspended, provided (1) EPA issues a preliminary human health risk assessment for chlorpyrifos by June 1, 2011, and requests comment on that assessment; and (2) EPA sends NRDC and PANNA a written response to their petition by November 23, 2011. If the lawsuit is not reactivated by January 23, 2012, it will be dismissed. Comments for the draft Stipulation and Order and related documents can be submitted at Regulations.gov. Comments must be identified by the docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2007-1005 at and received by the Agency no later than December 20, 2010.

Source: Chemical and Engineering News

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17
Dec

USDA Considers Future of Genetically Engineered Crops, Groups Call for Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2010) Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack disappointed organic farmers and consumers, as well as environmentalists when he announced December 16, 2010 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was considering “deregulating” a genetically engineered crop that is tied to genetic drift, superweeds, and the use of a hazardous pesticide -Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup (glyphosate) Ready (RR) alfalfa. The Department released a 2,400 page Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required by a 2007 Federal District Court decision and upheld by both 2009 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and June 2010 U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The litigation was led by the Center for Food Safety, and joined by Beyond Pesticides, and other groups, including organic seed companies and producers. A broad coalition of groups has previously called for USDA to deny approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, Roundup Ready alfalfa (GE alfalfa).

In March, more than 200,000 people submitted comments to USDA critiquing the substance and conclusions of its Draft EIS on GE Alfalfa. In addition, more than 300 public interest organizations, farmers, dairies, retailers and organic food producers from the U.S. and Canada delivered a critical letter to USDA. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), joined by 49 other representatives and five other senators, sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack asking USDA to retain the regulated status of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa. In their letter, endorsed by over 50 businesses and organizations, the lawmakers assert that the draft USDA findings about genetically engineered alfalfa cannot be justified.

In the latest EIS, USDA considered three alternatives during the preparation of the final EIS: 1) to maintain the RR alfalfa’s status as a regulated article; 2) to deregulate RR alfalfa; or 3) to deregulate RR alfalfa with geographic restrictions and isolation distances for the production of RR alfalfa. USDA has analyzed the potential environmental impacts of the proposed alternatives and has listed two preferred options: deregulation as one option and the other deregulation accompanied by a combination of isolation distances and geographic restrictions on the production of GE alfalfa seed and, in some locations, hay. According to USDA, “By listing both options as preferred, USDA has considered plant pest issues as well as broader environmental and economic issues related to the coexistence between genetically engineered, non-genetically engineered, and organic alfalfa production.”

Quoting from its press release, “USDA maintains that biotechnology holds great promise for agriculture here in the United States, and around the world. There’s absolutely no doubt of the safety of the many products USDA’s regulatory system has approved. The examination of these issues through the EIS process, however, highlighted some of the challenges USDA faces in the area of biotechnology regulation as it aims to meet the expectations of its diverse stakeholders.” The safety of genetically engineered crops and the pesticides used in conjunction with them are in dispute and raise issues central to the protection of public health and the environment.

“We have seen rapid adoption of biotechnology in agriculture, along with the rise of organic and non-genetically engineered sectors over the last several decades,” Secretary Vilsack said. He continued, “While the growth in all these areas is great for agriculture, it has also led, at times, to conflict or, at best, an uneasy coexistence between the different ways of growing crops. We need to address these challenges and develop a sensible path forward for strengthening coexistence of all segments of agriculture in our country. All are vital and a part of rural America’s success. All should be able to thrive together.”

Organic organizations have questioned whether USDA’s allowance of genetically-engineered crops, given the accepted understanding of genetically modifed organisms (GMO) contamination related to its drifting, condemns the organic industry to limited growth and economic harm. Genetically modified organisms are prohibited in organic production and processing.

Secretary Vilsack said that USDA will use this opportunity to begin a conversation on how to move forward and find strategies for strengthening coexistence. “We will partner with all those who want to roll up their sleeves and work with us and each other to find common sense solutions to today’s challenges. And we will do so openly and transparently.” USDA said yesterday that it is important to note that the EIS USDA is releasing is not a decision document. It is an analysis of the impacts of the various alternatives with regard to their potential environmental and related economic impacts. The final EIS will be available for public review for at least 30 days before USDA will publish a record of decision on how it will proceed.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will be submitting the EIS to the Environmental Protection Agency for publication in the Federal Register, and USDA anticipates that EPA will publish a notice that the final EIS on RR alfalfa is available for public review in the Federal Register on December 23, 2010.

Beyond Pesticides, in collaboration with the National Organic Coalition, will be attending a meeting with Secretary Vilsack and others on Monday, December 20, 2010 to discuss the EIS and related issues. For more information, see National Organic Coalition’s principles for the restriction of genetically modified organisms.

Take Action: Call USDA: Tell Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the best option is to ban genetically engineered alfalfa; Call 202-720-3631; email: agsec@osec.usda.gov.

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16
Dec

Group Plans to Sue Agencies over Threatened Amphibian

(Beyond Pesticides, December 16, 2010)The Center for Biological Diversity notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) December 15 of its intent to sue the agencies for failing to study and act on threats posed by more than 60 pesticides to the threatened California red-legged frog. A 2006 legal settlement secured by the Center required the EPA to assess the impacts of pesticides on the frog, then consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under the Endangered Species Act to address those impacts, by 2009. The completed assessments were submitted to the Wildlife Service between March 2007 and October 2009. Although EPA determined that 64 registered pesticides are likely to harm the frogs, the Service has not completed any consultations or adopted protective measures.

“The EPA acknowledges that scores of pesticides may be dangerous to California’s rare red-legged frogs, but nothing’s been done about it,” said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center. “This three-year delay violates the Endangered Species Act and jeopardizes the future of the largest native frog in California.”

Historically abundant throughout California, red-legged frogs have declined in numbers over 90 percent and have disappeared from 70 percent of their former range. Studies implicate pesticide drift from the Central Valley in disproportional declines of several native frog species in the Sierra Nevada, including red-legged frogs. USFWS has noted that the percentage of upwind land in agricultural production is 6.5 times greater for Sierra Nevada and Central Valley sites where red-legged frogs have disappeared than for sites where frogs still live. Amphibians are declining at alarming rates across the globe, and many scientists believe that industrial chemicals and pesticides may be partially to blame.

Overall, more than 200 million pounds of pesticides are applied each year in California; for most of these chemicals, the EPA has failed to consult with the USFWS to determine impacts on endangered species. The Endangered Species Act requires the EPA to consult with endangered species experts to determine how pesticides affect species and their critical habitats. The Center and other groups have filed a series of lawsuits forcing such consultations, primarily in California, and put in place interim restrictions on pesticide use in and near endangered species habitats.

Amphibians are declining at alarming rates around the globe, and scientists believe industrial chemicals and pesticides may be partly to blame. Numerous studies have definitively linked pesticide use with significant effects on amphibians: Pesticides can cause abnormalities, diseases, injury and death in these frogs and other amphibians. Because amphibians breathe through their permeable skin, they are especially vulnerable to chemical contamination. Frog eggs float exposed on the water surface, where pesticides tend to concentrate, and hatched larvae live solely in aquatic environments for five to seven months before they metamorphose, so agricultural pesticides introduced into wetlands, ponds and streams are particularly harmful. Many of the pesticides that pose a threat to the frog are also known to be harmful to human health.

“Because they’re so sensitive to chemical contaminants, frogs are an important barometer for the health of our aquatic ecosystems,” said Mr. Miller. “Ultimately, pesticides found in the red-legged frog’s critical habitat can also contaminate our drinking water, food, homes and schools, posing a disturbing health risk.”

Background
Formal consultations between the EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service are designed to ensure that the agency avoids authorizing pesticide uses that jeopardize endangered species. At the completion of consultation, the Service issues a “biological opinion” that determines if the agency action, in this case registration of a pesticide, is likely to jeopardize listed species. The opinion may specify reasonable and prudent alternatives that will avoid jeopardy and may also suggest use restrictions to avoid adverse effects.

In 2002, the Center filed litigation challenging the EPA registration and reregistration of scores of the most toxic and persistent pesticides authorized for use in California, based on the risk they pose to the red-legged frog. A federal court found in 2005 that the EPA had violated the Endangered Species Act, and a 2006 settlement agreement prohibited the use of 66 harmful pesticides near core frog habitats until the EPA completed the required consultations with the Service.

EPA has since conducted “effects determinations” for all 66 pesticides. The registrations of two chemicals, Fenamiphos and Molinate, were subsequently cancelled. EPA determined that 64 other pesticides are “likely to adversely affect” or “may affect” the frog; and between 2007 and 2009 the agency began requesting formal consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service had 90 days to complete each review, but has failed to meet those deadlines.

The 64 pesticides that may pose risks to the frog are: 2,4-D, Acephate, Alachlor, Aldicarb, Atrazine, Azinphos methyl, Bensulide, Bromacil, Captan, Carbaryl, Chloropicrin, Chlorothalonil, Chlorpyrifos, DCPA, Diazinon, Dicofol, Diflubenzuron, Dimethoate, Disulfoton, Diuron, Endosulfan, EPTC, Esfenvalerate, Glyphosate, Hexazinone, Imazapyr, Iprodione, Linuron, Malathion, Mancozeb, Maneb, Metam sodium, Methamidiphos, Methidathion, Methomyl, Methoprene, Methyl parathion, Metolachlor, Myclobutanil, Naled, Norflurazon, Oryzalin, Oxamyl, Oxydemeton methyl, Oxyfluorfen, Paraquat, Pendimethalin, Permethrin, Phorate, Phosmet, Prometryn, Propanil, Propargite, Propyzamide, Rotenone, Simazine, Strychnine, Telone Thiobencarb, Tribufos, Triclopyr, Trifluralin, Vinclozolin and Ziram. For information on these chemicals, please see Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide Gateway page.

Source: Center for Biological Diversity Press Release

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15
Dec

Rat Poisons Continue to Threaten Children

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2010) Every year, more than 10,000 kids are poisoned by rodenticides (pesticides made to kill rodents) and virtually all of the calls to U.S. poison control centers concern children under six. New rules and restrictions set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will go into effect next June in an attempt to prevent incidents involving children, but do not go far enough to protect children or wildlife.

EPA has known for a generation that children have easy access to these super-toxic rat poisons. Every year, more than 10,000 kids are getting a hold of them, with Black and Hispanic children living below the poverty line being disproportionately affected. Records show that the EPA is aware that children have been getting into these poisons in significant numbers, according to data since 1983. Between 2004 and 2008, U.S. poison control centers continued to receive 10,000 to 14,000 calls about the rat killers annually. EPA has estimated that these incidents reported to poison control centers probably account for only about one-fourth of all exposures. On average, about 3,700 of these cases are treated by medical professionals each year, according to reports of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

EPA reported that these rat poisons “are, by far, the leading cause of [pesticide-related] visits to health care facilities in children under the age of six years and the second leading cause of hospitalization.” Poisoned children can suffer internal bleeding, coma, anemia, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, bloody urine and bloody stools.

Now, decades after these products were first introduced to the public, and 14 years after the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), which was designed to protect children from dangerous pesticide exposures, EPA is moving to curb widespread use of these rodenticides, starting June 2011. That move, however, could be short-circuited by a lawsuit filed by the multinational corporation that sells rodenticide products. Reckitt Benckiser, a multinational consumer-products marketer, filed suit in federal court to prevent EPA’s new rules from going into effect. The company says restrictions on use of rat poison likely will lead to “potentially significant public health consequences.” Pesticide manufacturers, applicators and health officials say controlling rats is an important public health goal because they can spread a number of diseases, including hemorrhagic fever, leptospirosis, salmonellosis and rat bite fever.

On May 29, 2008, EPA released its final risk mitigation decision for ten rodenticides, which outlines new measures it says will help protect children and the public from accidental poisonings as well as to decrease exposures to pets and wildlife from rodent-control products. This came after the Natural Resources Council (NRDC) and the West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT) filed a lawsuit in 2004 challenging EPA’s regulations. In 2005, a New York City’s federal court ruled that the EPA failed to protect children from exposure to chemical rat poisons, and failed to require chemical manufacturers to strengthen safeguards. (See Daily News, August 17, 2005.)

However environmentalists feel the final risk mitigation decision and new rules fall short of adequately protecting the health of people, wildlife and the environment. EPA is requiring that ten rodenticides: brodifacoum, bromadiolone, bromethalin, chlorophacinone, cholecalciferol, difenacoum, difethialone, diphacinone, warfarin, zinc phosphide, used in bait products marketed to consumers be enclosed in bait stations, making the pesticide inaccessible to children and pets, and is also prohibiting the sale of loose bait, such as pellets, for use in homes. The new rules are voluminous, but the basic changes are:

-Disallowing the sale of the highly toxic second-generation rat poisons at the retail level. Currently they are commonly sold at grocery, drug and hardware stores.
-Limiting the amount of bait that can be sold over the counter to no more than one pound, and only in bait stations designed to keep out kids and dogs.
-Allowing professional exterminators and employees of farms and businesses to continue to use the loose baits and the more-toxic rodenticides – but requiring them to be put onto above-ground locations where they cannot be disturbed by children, pets or wildlife. These baits also may not be placed more than 50 feet from a building.

EPA believes this will reduce the amount of product in the environment, providing additional protection for wildlife from poisonings by these more toxic and persistent products. However, many wildlife poisonings do not come from direct contact with the bait. These rodenticides have been involved with the poisonings of federally listed threatened and endangered species, for example the San Joaquin kit fox and Northern spotted owl. Poisonings occur when predators or scavengers feed on poisoned rodents eventually accumulating residues that may be many times the lethal dose.

There are several shortcomings to the new restrictions. Human and wildlife exposures to these toxic chemicals, though slightly minimized, would nevertheless continue because of their continued availability for use in agricultural production and to pest control operators. Pest control operators will still be allowed to use these chemicals in homes, at their discretion, which means residential exposures continue, albeit at slightly lower levels. These measures also do not apply to rodenticide field uses, or to tracking powder products, which may utilize any of the ten rodenticides, and thus continue to impact residential consumers and non-target wildlife.

Beyond Pesticides believes that IPM is a vital tool that aids in the rediscovery of non-toxic methods to control rodents and facilitates the transition toward a pesticide-free (and healthier) world. Sanitation, structural repairs, mechanical and biological control, pest population monitoring are some IPM methods that can be undertaken to control rodents. For more information on IPM, contact Beyond Pesticides or visit our IPM program page and the brochure “The Safer Choice.“

To learn more about rodenticides, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Rodenticides fact sheet. For least toxic control of mice and other pests visit the alternatives page.

Source: Environmental Health News

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14
Dec

One Million Petition EU To Halt GM Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2010) A petition of more than a million signatures was presented to the European Commission last week, demanding a halt to approvals of new genetically modified (GM) crops and the establishment of up a new scientific body to study the impact of the technology and determine regulations. Greenpeace led the effort.

The petition is seen as a test case for the “European citizen’s initiative,” introduced under the European Union’s new constitutional treaty, which enables a million or more people to jointly ask the European Commission to change EU legislation. It follows the Commission’s decision in March to grant the first EU GM cultivation approval in 12 years for the “Amflora” potato.

“Over a million people across Europe have set the EU a democratic test — will the EU address the real concern people have about GM crops and food, or will it side with the chemical industry lobbyists controlling GM technology?” Greenpeace’s EU Director Jorgo Riss said. “Until safety issues of GMs are examined by independent experts, all GM authorizations should stop.”

A spokesman for the EU executive said it would treat the signatures “as a petition in the spirit of the citizen’s initiative,” Despite the fact that rules governing the Citizens’ Initiative are not expected to be finalized until next year. John Dalli, the EU Commissioner responsible for GM policy, said, “I am committed to look seriously at the request made through this initiative.”

GM crops are one of the most controversial areas of EU policy, with widespread public opposition to the technology in most EU countries. Earlier this year, the Commission proposed an overhaul of EU rules on GM cultivation, which would let governments decide individually whether or not to grow the technology, and Commissioner Dalli pledged to press ahead with EU approvals while the plans are discussed.

GM crops are genetically engineered to be resistant to pests and pesticides, whether by the incorporation into food crops of genes from a natural bacterium (Bt) or the development of a herbicide-resistant crops. However, there are serious public health and pest resistance problems associated with GM crops. A recent study by University of Notre Dame scientists found that streams throughout the Midwest are contaminated with GM materials from corn crop byproducts, even six months after harvest. GM crops are already known to contaminate conventional non-GM 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 GM food are still unknown. GM 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 GM crops and unmodified varieties. Other reports find that the rapid adoption by U.S. farmers of genetically modified corn, soybeans and cotton has promoted increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds, and more chemical residues in foods.

Beyond Pesticides’ goal is to push for labeling as a means of identifying products that contain GM ingredients, seek to educate on the public health and environmental consequences of this technology and generate support for sound ecological-based management systems such as organic agriculture. Organic agriculture does not permit GM crops or the use of synthetic herbicides, and focuses on building the soil–minimizing its effect on climate change.

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

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13
Dec

EPA Announces Bed Bug Summit, Seeks Public Participation

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that a national summit on bed bugs will be held by the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup on February 1-2, 2011 in Washington, DC. The public is invited to the summit to learn and discuss ways to solve the bed bug problem that is sweeping the country. It is the second such summit organized by the EPA, the last having been held in April 2009 (see summit recommendations), seeking input from scientists, regulators, and professionals in addition to the public as to how best to confront the issue. One of the recommendations from the first summit, that an interagency federal task force be created, led to the formation of the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup as a collaboration between the EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and National Institutes of Health.

Bed bugs have recently begun to spread rapidly throughout the country, due in part to global travel and increased resistance to pesticides, and have reached levels not seen since the end of World War II. This resurgence, coupled with the bugs’ adapted resistance to common treatments such as pyrethroids, has led to widespread public anxiety and drastic attempts to stem their spread through various means. Often these attempts have included the use of highly toxic and harmful chemicals. For example, in 2009, the State of Ohio, dealing with infestation in several major cities, petitioned the EPA to approve the indoor use of the pesticide propoxur, which the agency considers a probable carcinogen and banned for in-home use in 2007, due to concerns posed to children. About 25 other states supported Ohio’s request for an emergency exemption. In comments to the agency objecting to the petition for propoxur, Beyond Pesticides and other environmental and public health advocates urged the agency to reject the request, citing the serious public health threat associated with the chemical, as well as the availability of alternatives. EPA rejected Ohio’s petition in June.

Efforts which use chemicals such as these are unnecessary and can actually cause more harm than the bed bugs themselves. It should be emphasized: Bed bugs do not transmit disease and can be controlled. The EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have put together a joint statement on bed bug control which provides background information on the recent rise in bed bug problems, discusses the public health implications of bed bug infestations, and stresses the importance of controlling them with an integrated approach. They are of course a cause for concern and a nuisance, but they can be effectively eliminated through a range of non-hazardous practices that do not put you and your family at risk. These techniques, which can be found on the Beyond Pesticides’ bed bug page, include:

Caulk and seal crevices. Prevent bed bugs from entering your home.
Eliminate clutter. Getting rid of as much clutter as possible will help you locate and eliminate infestations.
Vacuum. This will only remove visible bed bugs, but is important to get rid of dead bed bugs and their frass. Use a stiff brush to dislodge eggs in cracks and crevices and use a vacuum attachment that does not have bristles to get into the corners. Be sure to discard the bag immediately after vacuuming.
Launder Fabrics and Clothing. Wash and dry clothing for 30 minutes or a full cycle at the hottest setting the fabric will allow. Dry clean only clothes can simply be put into the dryer. If the fabric is too delicate for the hottest temperature, place it on a lower heat setting and let it run for the full cycle.
Encase mattresses and box springs. Make sure the encasement has been tested for bed bugs and will not rip and does not contain synthetic pesticides impregnated in the material. It will eventually kill all bed bugs inside.
Steam Treatment. Steam treatment will kill all stages of bedbugs. Move the nozzle over the bed bugs at a rate of 20 seconds per linear foot, and wrap a piece of fabric over the upholstery nozzle to reduce water pressure to make sure bed bugs don’t blow away. Many pest control companies provide this option, but you may have to ask for it.
Heat Treatment. Heat, either blown with a fan or ambient, can provide complete control of bed bugs, if all areas of infestation reach 120 degrees F.

Additionally, EPA has created a website which emphasizes an integrated pest management approach to controlling bed bugs.

Experts say it is going to take a comprehensive public health campaign — public-service announcements, travel tips and perhaps even taxpayer-funded extermination programs for public housing — to reduce the bedbug problem. People can get bedbugs by visiting infested homes or hotels, where the vermin hide in mattresses, pillows and curtains. The bugs are stealth hitchhikers that climb onto bags, clothing and luggage.

For more information, see our program page and read our factsheet, “Got Bed Bugs? Don’t Panic.”

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10
Dec

EPA Publishes Petition to Ban Triclosan, Opens Public Comment

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2010) Announcing a 60-day public comment period, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday published in the Federal Register a petition filed by 82 public health and environmental groups, led by Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch, to ban the controversial antimicrobial/antibacterial pesticide triclosan, found in products from clothing to soaps, for non-medical use. The Federal Register notice (Petition for a Ban on Triclosan, 75 FR 76461, December 8, 2010) invites the public to comment until February 7, 2011 on the need to ban triclosan under numerous federal statutes.

The petition, filed on January 14, 2010, identifies pervasive and widespread use of triclosan and a failure of EPA to: (i) address the impacts posed by triclosan’s degradation products on human health and the environment, (ii) conduct separate assessment for triclosan residues in contaminated drinking water and food, and (iii) evaluate concerns related to antibacterial resistance and endocrine disruption. The petition cites violations of numerous environmental statutes, including laws on pesticide registration, the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. It also documents that triclosan is no more effective than regular soap and water in removing germs and therefore creates an unnecessary hazardous exposure for people and the environment.

Regulated by both EPA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, triclosan is commonly found in clothing, toys, kitchen utensils and cutting boards, hair brushes, computer keyboards, countertops, plastics, facial tissues, hand soaps, cosmetics, toothpastes, deodorants, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, antiseptics, and medical devices. The petition to EPA seeks expedited action to ban household triclosan, challenging serious deficiencies in EPA’s September 2008 re-registration of triclosan and its failure to comply with safety laws.

Research indicates that widespread use of triclosan causes a number of serious health and environmental problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds in its 2009 report, National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, and 2010 update that triclosan is in the bodies of 75% of the U.S. population and its levels are increasing. A critical health concern is triclosan’s association with bacterial resistance to antibiotic medications and cleansers, a special problem for vulnerable populations such as infants, patients, and the elderly. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones, which potentially increases cancer risk. Recent studies show triclosan’s adverse effects on fetal growth and development. Further, the pesticide accumulates in biosolids, is taken up by food crops, and breaks down to different forms of dioxin, thereby exposing consumers to even more dangerous chemicals.

“We’re calling on the public to urge EPA to consider the full extent of triclosan’s impact on people’s health and the environment and ban its non-medical uses,” said Jay Feldman executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

For more information, go to: Federal Register notice and see Beyond Pesticide’s triclosan page.

TAKE ACTION: Tell EPA to protect public health and the environment from the serious and long-lasting impacts of the continued and unnecessary use of triclosan. Submit electronic comments to the FDA at www.regulation.gov using docket number: EPA–HQ–OPP–2010–0548. Comments must be submitted by February 7, 2010.

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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