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In Letter to EPA on Atrazine Hazards, House Republicans Challenge Science, Call the Weedkiller Safe

Monday, November 7th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides,  November 7,  2016) In a letter  last week on the widely used weedkiller  atrazine, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) and 105 of his colleagues told Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that, “It would be irresponsible to greatly restrict one of the safest and most trusted herbicides on the market.” The  letter was triggered by EPA’s release in June of its  draft  Ecological Risk Assessment on atrazine, which found levels of concerns exceeded by as much as 200-fold for some organisms. Lawmakers indicated that the draft assessment in its present form, “Would have a significant impact on farmers and rural communities nationwide.” Despite a wealth of information to the contrary, they claim that restricting the use of atrazine would put an unnecessary financial burden on farmers. Atrazine, produced by Syngenta,  is the second-most widely used pesticide in the U.S., with over 73 million pounds applied each year. While Rep. Buck claims that atrazine is a safe chemical, years of research shows that the chemical poses unacceptable risks to human health and the environment.  Once applied, the chemical often washes into surface water and leaches into groundwater. Water contamination issues spurred community water utilities  across the […]

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Pesticide Restrictions in Wisconsin Fail to Protect Groundwater Adequately

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2016) A Wisconsin family is speaking out against groundwater contamination after their son fell ill two years ago, prompting them to test their well water. The test results found the water contaminated with fertilizers and pesticides, most notably the weed killer atrazine, which has been banned in their area for 20 years. Atrazine has been registered for use since 1958. Although many residential turf grass uses of the chemical have been eliminated voluntarily, homeowner uses do persist. The chemical has been linked to human health impacts such as childhood cancer, and rare birth defects, including gastroschisis, and choanal atresia. According to Minnpost, in the spring of 2014, Jacob, son of Doug and Dawn Reeves, fell mysteriously ill. His body became swollen and he developed an unusual rash. He was finally diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis, a rare inflammatory disease that affects the muscles, skin and blood vessels. The cause of the disease is unknown, so the Reeves family began their own hunt as to why Jacob became sick. When they received the test results from Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, it showed that their well contained atrazine at twice the state and federal drinking water health standard. […]

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EPA Finds Atrazine Threatens Ecological Health

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2016) Following an apparent accidental release of documents relating to the safety of the herbicide glyphosate, late last month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also released and then retracted a preliminary ecological risk assessment of another toxic herbicide, atrazine. Under federal law, every pesticide registered in the United States is required to undergo a 15-year registration review to analyze human health and environmental impacts and determine whether the chemical’s use should continue another 15 years. The last decade and a half have seen plethora of studies underscoring that atrazine is harmful to human health, and poses unreasonable adverse risks to ecological health, despite attempts by its major manufacturer, Syngenta, to silence and discredit its critics. EPA’s preliminary ecological risk assessment finds that for current uses at prescribed label rates, atrazine may pose a chronic risk to fish, amphibians, and aquatic vertebrate animals. Where use is heavy, the agency indicates that chronic exposure through built-up concentrations in waterways is likely to adversely impact aquatic plant communities.  Levels of concern, a wonky equation that EPA produces to measure risk, were exceeded for birds by 22x, fish by 62x, and mammals by 198x. Even reduced label rates were […]

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Agricultural Crop Density Linked to Childhood Cancer in Midwest

Friday, October 16th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, October 16, 2015) According to a new study, living in crop-dense regions is linked to increased leukemia and central nervous system cancers in children. Although there is a litany of scientific literature that highlights the link between pesticide exposure and childhood illness, this study is one of few that examines the relationship between residential exposures to agricultural pesticides via crop density and adverse health outcomes, and may serve as a basis for further investigation into childhood cancer rates in areas where agricultural pesticides are highly used. The study, titled Agricultural crop density and the risk of childhood cancer in the Midwestern United States: an ecologic study,  was published in the journal Environmental Health. Using crop density as a surrogate for residential exposure to agricultural pesticides, the study linked county-level agricultural census data and cancer incidence data for children between the ages 0 to 4 in six Midwestern states and found evidence of an association between childhood cancer incidence and the production of crops such as dry beans, oats, and sugar beets. Researchers found statistically significant exposure-response relationships for dry beans and total leukemias and acute lymphoid leukemias, oats and acute myeloid leukemias, and sugar beets and total leukemias. […]

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Harvard Meta-Analysis Ties Childhood Cancer to Pesticide Use

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, September 15, 2015) A study released this week in the journal Pediatrics finds that children’s exposure to pesticides in and around the home results in an increased risk of developing certain childhood cancers. Researchers made their findings through a meta-analysis, reviewing 16 epidemiological studies published since 1993 on the link between childhood cancer and pesticide exposure. Based on their findings, the authors of the study suggest “”¦public health policies should be developed to minimize childhood exposure to pesticides in the home,” and that “[e]very effort should be made to limit children’s exposure to pesticides.” While most meta-analytical reviews previously conducted on the link between pesticides and childhood cancer looked at parental exposure or agricultural exposure, the current study from scientists at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health focuses in on residential exposure in and around a child’s home. Authors found that cancer risks were connected most closely to the type of pesticide used and the location where it was applied. For example, while residential herbicide use was associated with an increased risk of leukemia, the link between outdoor insecticide use and childhood cancers was not found to be statistically significant. However, exposure to insecticides inside the […]

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Pesticides Key Contributor in Childhood Diseases, Highlights Need for Policy Change

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2012) A new report highlights the growing body of research that links pesticides to the rampant rise of learning disabilities, childhood cancer and asthma in the United States, and calls for swift policy change to protect future generations. In particular, the report points out that children are more sick today than they were a generation ago, confronting serious health challenges from pesticides and other chemical exposures that their parents and grandparents were unlikely to face. This report underscores the importance of changing the individual chemical assessment approach to regulating pesticides, and integrating a systems approach that incorporates organic principles that strive to eliminate unnecessary pesticide use. The report entitled, A Generation in Jeopardy: How pesticides are undermining our children’s health and intelligence was released by Pesticide Action Network North America (PAN). It draws from academic and government research, focusing on studies published within the past five years, to chronicle the emerging threat of —with over 1 billion pounds applied on farms and homes annually— to children’s health. Children and other sensitive sub-populations are exposed to a “toxic soup” of chemicals whose health impacts are not properly understood and clouded in uncertainties which are not captured in […]

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British Columbia Pesticide Ban Campaign Gains Traction

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Beyond Pesticides, (May 10, 2012), British Columbia (BC) may become the eighth Canadian province to ban cosmetic (lawn care) pesticides after the Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides submit their recommendations to the legislature later this month. The report will outline the bipartisan committee’s findings from over the last eight months on restrictions for non-essential pesticides use province-wide. Roughly forty municipalities throughout the province already have pesticide bans in place, and a survey found that a majority of Metro Vancouver voters across political party lines endorse a province-wide ban on the sale and use of lawn and garden pesticides. Though it is widely popular, environmental groups and human health organizations are expecting industry backlash and have expressed concern about whether or not recommendations will be strong enough and whether effective legislation will result. “The poll shows nearly two-thirds of Vancouverites know pesticides are linked to childhood cancer,” said Canadian Association for Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) Executive Director Gideon Forman. “Among people with kids, support for a pesticide ban is at 76 per cent,” said Mr. Forman. “Candidates who endorse a strong provincial pesticide ban will be very popular with families.” It’s believed to be the first time in British Columbia […]

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Environmental Disease in Children Estimated at $76.6 Billion Annually

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2011) In three new studies published in the May issue of the journal Health Affairs (Vol. 30, No. 5), Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers reveal the staggering economic impact of toxic chemicals and air pollutants in the environment, and propose new legislation to mandate testing of new chemicals and also those already on the market. The studies, “Environmental Disease in Kids Cost $76.6 Billion in 2008,” “Children’s Vulnerability to Toxic Chemicals,” and “Pollutants and Respiratory Illness in Infants,” are available on the Health Affairs website. Leonardo Trasande, MD, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, analyzed the costs of conditions — including lead poisoning, childhood cancer, asthma, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — associated with exposure to toxic chemicals. Dr. Trasande and his team calculated the annual cost for direct medical care and the indirect costs, such as parents’ lost work days, and lost economic productivity caring for their children, of these diseases in children. The researchers found the annual cost in the United States to be an estimated $76.6 billion, representing 3.5 percent of all U.S. health care costs in 2008. The breakdown includes: lead poisoning […]

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Report Examines Impact of Pesticides on Farmworker Children

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2011) One year after the President’s Cancer Panel released its groundbreaking report highlighting environmental causes of cancer, the non-profit Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) released a new report, Dangerous Exposure: Farmworker Children and Pesticides. The report focuses on farmworker children, examining birth defects, neurological and behavior disorders, respiratory disease, as well as leukemia and other childhood cancers and their connections to pesticides. “The weight of evidence described in our report, Dangerous Exposure: Farmworker Children and Pesticides, is overwhelming, if not conclusive,” notes Levy Schroeder, Director of Health & Safety Programs at AFOP. “The risk is high for farmworker children whose lives are surrounded by dangerous agricultural toxins.” In a ten-month immersion in evidence-based findings on pesticide exposures, farmworker children and various illnesses, including cancer, the AFOP Health and Safety team reviewed primary scientific research published in professional medical and public health journals. In an effort to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the issue of pesticide exposure to farmworker children, the team also conducted focus groups and interviews with farmworker parents around the country. The parents shared stories of exposure, of having to make choices they know are not healthy for their children, of their […]

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New Report Shows Pesticide Exposure Associated with Certain Cancers

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, July 6, 2010) A review report published last Friday highlights that some research studies indicate that pesticide exposure either prior to conception, during pregnancy or during childhood appears to increase the risk of childhood cancer, with maternal pesticide exposure during pregnancy being most consistently associated with childhood cancer. Furthermore, the report notes that several studies indicate that farmers are at greater risk of developing certain cancers than the general population. In particular, several studies strongly suggest that pesticide exposures are associated with some cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), leukemia, prostate cancer and other hormone related cancers. The report, A Review of the Role Pesticides Play in Some Cancers: Children, farmers and pesticide users at risk?, is published by the United Kingdom organization CHEM (Chemicals, Health and Environment Monitoring) Trust. “Pesticide exposures may interact with other chemical exposures and genetic factors, to cause cancer. Research suggests that pregnant women, in particular, should avoid direct exposure to pesticides, if possible,” said Gwynne Lyons, Director of CHEM Trust and report co-author. “It is high time that the UK was more supportive of EU proposals to take a tougher approach to reducing exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. If the UK is to […]

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This National Poison Prevention Week Lose the Pesticides for the Kids

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2009) “Children Act Fast…So Do Poisons” is the message that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sending in conjunction with the Poison Prevention Week Council to keep poisonous substances out of the hands of children. In observance of the annual National Poison Prevention Week (March 14-20), EPA recommends locking up household cleaners, disinfectants, solvents and other materials as the best way to reduce accidental poisoning among children. However, Beyond Pesticides advises the public to throw out poisonous chemicals and utilize non-toxic methods of pest management. While it is wise to keep all potentially harmful household products out of the reach and hands of children, Beyond Pesticides recommends to the public to abandon poisonous chemicals and instead practice non-toxic methods of pest management and use least-toxic chemicals where possible. EPA continues to facilitate and apologize for the unnecessary use of highly toxic pesticides, disinfectants, solvents and other hazardous materials that it registers, and misses every year the important opportunity during National Poison Prevention Week to alert families with children about integrated pest management and organic methods that are effective, but not reliant on hazardous methods. Numerous scientific studies that show children carrying a body burden of […]

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Children Living Near Agricultural Pesticide Use Have Higher Cancer Rate

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2009) A new study reveals that children exposed to agricultural pesticides applied near their home have up to twice the risk of developing the most common form of childhood leukemia, according to the Northern California Cancer Center (NCCC). The study, “Residential proximity to agricultural pesticide applications and childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” published in the October issue of Environmental Research, used a unique California database to reveal an elevated risk in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) among children living near applications of certain categories of pesticides used in agriculture. The study, led by Rudolph Rull, Ph.D., shows an elevated risk of ALL associated with moderate exposure, but not high exposure, to pesticides classified as organophosphates (odds ratio (OR) 1.6), chlorophenoxy herbicides (OR 2.0), and triazines (OR 1.9), and with agricultural pesticides used as insecticides (OR 1.5) or fumigants (OR 1.7). California is one of the few states in the country that requires active reporting of pesticide applications, including time, place, and the type and amount of pesticide used. For this study, researchers were able to link children’s entire residential histories from birth to the time of case diagnosis to this pesticide-use reporting database and identify agricultural pesticides that […]

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Common Household Pesticides Linked To Childhood Cancer

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, July 29, 2009) A new study by researchers at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University finds a higher level of common household pesticides in the urine of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer that develops most commonly between three and seven years of age. The findings are published in the August issue of the journal Therapeutic Drug Monitoring. Researchers, in the study entitled, “Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Exposure to Pesticides,” caution that these findings, which do not establish a cause-and-effect relationship, suggest an association between pesticide exposure and development of childhood ALL. “In our study, we compared urine samples from children with ALL and their mothers with healthy children and their moms. We found elevated levels of common household pesticides more often in the mother-child pairs affected by cancer,” says the study’s lead investigator, Offie Soldin, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at Lombardi. Dr. Soldin cautions, “We shouldn’t assume that pesticides caused these cancers, but our findings certainly support the need for more robust research in this area.” Previous studies have found that exposures to certain pesticides increases the risk of developing certain cancers and degenerative diseases. The study was conducted between January 2005 and […]

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Report Reveals Hazardous Pesticide Use in North Carolina Child Care Centers

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2009) Parents and child care providers work hard to provide a loving, stimulating environment that is safe for children, yet they may be exposing them to hazardous chemicals. A new report finds that more than half of surveyed child care providers use broadcast spray and/or “bug bombs” in their centers. The report, Avoiding Big Risks for Small Kids: Results of the 2008 NC Child Care Pest Control Survey, by the nonprofit group Toxic Free NC, is based on a survey of 89 child care providers from across North Carolina who answered questions about pests, pesticides and safety at their facilities. “As a pediatrician and a mother, I believe we should be avoiding the use of toxic chemicals in children’s environments,” says Katherine Shea, M.D., M.P.H. “Child care centers, where our youngest and most vulnerable children spend time eating and sleeping, playing and learning, should be safe and free from known chemical hazards like pesticides.” Babies and young children are among the most likely age groups to suffer long-term harm to their health from exposure to pesticides. Numerous scientific studies have connected pesticide exposure in early life to an increased risk of asthma, harm to growing brains, […]

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EPA Says “Lock Up Pesticides,” Fails to Promote Alternatives

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2008) To kick off National Poison Prevention Week on March 17, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is urging people to “lock up” their pesticides to protect children —stopping far short of advising the public on non-toxic methods of pest management. According to public health advocates, EPA, as a facilitator and apologist for the unnecessary use of highly toxic pesticides that it registers missed an important opportunity during National Poison Prevention Week to alert families with children about integrated management and organic methods that are effective but not reliant on hazardous methods. “With the wide availability of non-toxic methods and products, there is no reason for people to have poisonous pesticides in their homes and risk their children’s exposure,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. Despite numerous scientific studies that show children carrying a body burden of pesticides used in homes and elevated rates of childhood cancer in households that use pesticides, given children special vulnerability to pesticides, EPA chose to focus on pesticide poisoning of children associated with accidental ingestion. The agency launched the week with the headline “Play It Safe, Prevent Poisonings, Lock Up Pesticides” and the quote, “The U.S. Environmental Protection […]

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Study Links Household Pesticide Use to Childhood Cancer

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2007) A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives this month finds that children born to mothers living in households with pesticide use during pregnancy have over twice as much risk of getting cancer, specifically acute leukemia (AL) or non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The study, Household Exposure to Pesticides and Risk of Childhood Hematopoietic Malignancies: The ESCALE Study (SFCE), 115:1787—1793 (2007) , investigates the role of household exposure to pesticides in the etiology of childhood hematopoietic malignancies, using the national registry-based case—control study ESCALE (Etude sur les cancers de l’enfant) that was carried out in France over the period 2003—2004. The researchers evaluated maternal household use of pesticides during pregnancy and paternal use during pregnancy or childhood which was reported by the mothers in a structured telephone questionnaire. Insecticides (used at home, on pets or for garden crops), herbicides and fungicides were distinguished. The researchers estimated odds ratios (ORs) using unconditional regression models closely adjusting for age, sex, degree of urbanization, and type of housing (flat or house). The researchers included a total of 764 cases of acute leukemia (AL), 130 of Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), 166 of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) , and 1,681 controls. Insecticide use during pregnancy […]

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New Study Links Parental Pesticide Exposure to Leukemia

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2007) In a new study published in the August 2007 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health (Vol. 33, No. 4), researchers from the Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances (IRET) in Costa Rica find parental exposure to pesticides linked to the increased risk of leukemia. IRET researchers, based at the National University of Costa Rica in Heredia, identified cases of childhood leukemia (N=334), in 1995-2000, on the Cancer Registry and the Children’s Hospital. Population controls (N=579) were drawn from the National Birth Registry. Interviews of parents were conducted using conventional and icon-based calendar forms. An exposure model was constructed for 25 pesticides in five time periods. Mothers’ exposures to any pesticides during the year before conception and during the first and second trimesters are associated with the risk [odds ratio (OR) 2.4, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.0-5.9; OR 2.2, 95% CI 2.8-171.5; OR 4.5, 95% CI 1.4-14.7, respectively] and during anytime (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.0-4.8). An association is found for fathers’ exposures to any pesticides during the second trimester (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0-2.3). An increased risk with respect to organophosphates is found for mothers during the first […]

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Report Notes Greater Environmental Risks to Boys

Monday, July 16th, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2007) In its report released on Father’s Day 2007, “Men, Boys and Environmental Threats,” the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment urges greater awareness among parents about environmental risks to boys. “All children are at risk from exposure to environmental hazards, but boys appear to be at greater risk,” said Dr. Lynn Marshall, MD, with the Ontario College of Family Physicians. The report summarizes the evidence about environmental risks to boys, specifically examining cancer, asthma, learning and behavioral disorders, birth defects and testicular dysgenesis syndrome. Below is a summary of the report’s findings. Cancer: Although cancer is rare among all children, more boys are diagnosed with cancer than girls. Among young adults (age 20—44) several cancers are on the rise, including testicular cancer. Concern arises over parents’ exposures before conception or during pregnancy. Childhood cancers are associated with exposures to pesticides, solvents, petroleum products, motor vehicle exhaust, benzene and other pollutants. Much remains unknown. Since cancer involves problems with cell division, it is logical that exposures during times of rapid cell division (especially in the womb) likely pose the greatest risk. Asthma: In the past 20 years there has been a dramatic rise in asthma […]

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