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New Study Shows Reduction of Persistent Pollutants in Breast Milk, Though Concerns Remain

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2016) Researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and Murdoch University recently released a study whose findings show that levels of pesticides in breast milk have dropped significantly over the past forty years, though some major concerns remain. Published in the international journal Chemosphere, the research shows a 42-fold decrease in levels of pesticides detected in breast milk, and ties the reduction to government efforts to prohibit persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Australia, which has lead to decreased exposure over time. Led by UWA’s internationally renowned human lactation researcher Emeritus Professor Peter Hartmann, Dr. Donna Geddes and Murdoch’s Associate Professor Robert Trengove, the study is a testament to the positive impact banning pesticides can have on the health of individuals, especially vulnerable populations like infants, but also shows that there is a long way to go before our bodies are void of any bioaccumulated toxic residues. Researchers often study breast milk because it can bioconcentrate, or accumulate, persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Multiple studies on breast milk have been performed throughout the years, many of them confirming the fact that common toxic chemicals, such as glyphosate and triclosan, build up in our bodies over time. Most […]

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Legacy Contaminants Found in Swallow Eggs around the Great Lakes

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2016) According to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), high concentrations of dioxins and furans have been detected in tree swallow eggs collected near several sites around the Great Lakes. Other chemicals detected include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which were at background levels. The study is part of efforts to clean up a toxic chemical legacy around the Great Lakes, and the researchers believe their results are critical to regulators to assess “bird or animal deformity or reproductive problems” The study, “Concentrations and spatial patterns of organic contaminants in tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) eggs at United States and binational Great Lakes Areas of Concern, 2010—2015,” used tree swallows to quantify current exposure to organic contaminants across all five Great Lakes including 59 sites within 27  Areas of Concern (AOCs)  and 10 nearby  locations. The Great Lakes Areas of Concern refers to a U.S.-Canada  Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement  (Annex 1 of the 2012 Protocol) that  defines AOCs as “geographic areas designated by the Parties where significant  impairment of beneficial uses  has occurred as a result of human activities at the local level.” An AOC is a location that has […]

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Banned Chemicals Linked to Increased Autism Risk

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2016) Researchers at Drexel University report that higher levels of some organochlorine compounds during pregnancy are associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). The organochlorine compounds under study have long been banned in the U.S., and include pesticides like DDT, underscoring how pervasive and persistent these chemicals are, and their continued impact on human health. The research is reported in the study  Polychlorinated Biphenyl and Organochlorine Pesticide Concentrations in Maternal Mid-Pregnancy Serum Sam ples: Association with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability,  which examines whether prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) influences offspring risk of ASD and intellectual disability without autism (ID). According to the research, children born after being exposed to the highest levels of organochlorines during their mother’s pregnancy are roughly 80 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism when compared to individuals with the very lowest levels of these chemicals. The team looked at a population sample of 1,144 children born in Southern California between 2000 and 2003. Data was accrued from mothers who had enrolled in California’s Expanded Alphafetoprotein Prenatal Screening Program, which is dedicated to detecting birth defects during pregnancy. Participants’ children were […]

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President Signs Weak Product Labeling Law on Genetically Engineered Ingredients, Preempts States

Monday, August 1st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, August  1, 2016) As expected, President Obama signed into law an amendment to S. 764, the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, which establishes a national GMO (genetically modified  organisms or genetically engineered-GE) food labeling requirement that food safety advocates say may be deceptive, preempts states from adopting stronger label language and standards, and excludes a large portion of the population without special cell phone technology. Pushed by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), the law is being characterized by its supporters as a compromise, stronger than the original legislation, the Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act (S.2621), which was dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. That bill failed to reach cloture in the Senate in March. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, a big supporter of genetically engineered food production, will have two years to develop the standard, during which time it will assess the question of equitable access to the disclosure of ingredients. This new law will invalidate a stronger GMO labeling law that took effect in Vermont on July 1. The law, signed by the President on July 29, does very little to ensure that consumers will actually be able to […]

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Common Pesticide Exposure Alters Behavior of Fish and Amphibians

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2016) Exposure to common pesticides at levels often found in the environment can have subtle but significant impacts on the behavioral health of fish, amphibians and other aquatic invertebrates. According to researchers at Northern Arizona University, who analyzed data from nearly 40 experiments to reach their conclusion, fish and amphibians swam 35% slower and were 72% less active after pesticide exposure. Chemical Class Type Example Pesticides Carbamates Insecticide Carbaryl, Aldicarb Organochlorine Insecticide DDT, Endosulfan, Chlordane Organophosphates Insecticide Diazinon, Chlorpyrifos Organotins Biocide Tributyltin Phosphonoglycines Herbicide Glyphosate, Glufosinate Pyrethroids Insecticide Permethrin, Bifenthrin, Esfenvalerate Triazines Herbicide Atrazine, Simazine The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that the overall effect on aquatic wildlife varied based on the chemical class the animals encountered. While pyrethroids, carbamates, and organophosphates resulted in a significant decrease in swim speed, triazines and phosphonoglycines showed no overall effect. Pyrethroids, carbamates, organophosphates, organochlorines, and organotins decreased activity, while phosphonoglycines had no overall effect, and triazines actually increased activity. “I didn’t think that we would see [an effect] across such a wide range of pesticides so consistently, but we did,” said study co-author, Catherine Propper, PhD to KNAU, “and that leads to some concerns about […]

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Millions of Dead Bees and Over 4 Million Signatures Presented to EPA to Protect Pollinators from Pesticides

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2016) A truck full of dead bees made its final stop yesterday at a rally outside the headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), culminating a coast-to-coast tour to raise awareness about recent massive declines in pollinators. While the millions of dead bees stayed on the truck, advocates and beekeepers, including Beyond Pesticides, delivered over 4 million signatures urging an immediate ban on bee-killing pesticides. “In the five years since I started keeping bees, I’ve seen many hives killed by pesticides,” said James Cook, a Minnesota-based beekeeper who has been driving the truck across the country since last Monday. “If some fundamental things don’t change, it’s going to be really hard for beekeepers to adapt to the environment around us.” Bees pollinate most of the world’s most common crops, including summer favorites like peaches and watermelon. But over 40 percent of U.S. honeybee hives die each year, costing the farming and beekeeping industry more than $2 billion annually. The most significant culprit in the bee die-off is the widely-used class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics. Last spring EPA began a process to assess four types of neonics and their impacts on pollinators. In January […]

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Report Compiles Over 400 Carcinogens Found in People’s Bodies

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2016) A new report released yesterday by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that up to 420 known or likely carcinogens have been measured in a diverse array of populations, and that exposure to these carcinogens is not limited to on-the-job contact with industrial chemicals, including pesticides. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 1.7 million new cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016. While some of these cases may be due to genetic makeup, others may be caused by substances in the air, soil, food and other materials in our environment. Through a review of scientific literature and publicly available biomonitoring studies, EWG compiled a comprehensive inventory of known or likely carcinogens that have been measured in people. According to the EWG report, data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey, or NHANES, conducted annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirms that many of these carcinogens are in the bodies of Americans not at risk of occupational exposure — indeed, at any given time some people may harbor dozens or hundreds of cancer-causing chemicals. Over half of the people tested had levels of arsenic and acrylamide in their […]

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Congress Passes Toxic Chemical Reforms, but Limits More Protective State Laws

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2016) The U.S. Congress passed a bill Tuesday to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, the national law that regulates industrial chemicals, but in the process took away the right of state governments to adopt more stringent standards than the federal government. A Senate voice vote late Tuesday passed the bill, following a House vote in late May. The bill will now go to President Obama’s desk for signature or veto, but it is likely that he will sign it into law. Congress has taken steps to address the vast shortcomings of the law to protect human health and safety, and  in the process has created opportunities for serious delays and restrictions on states’ ability to enact their own toxic chemical regulations.  As the bill heads to President Obama, environmental advocates are concerned that they will lose an important tool in the fight for public protections —with the adoption of federal legislation that will  diminish the right of states and communities to establish protective laws, regulations, and standards in the face of involuntary toxic chemical exposure. Under  current TSCA law, around 64,000 chemicals are not subject to environmental testing or regulation by the […]

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TSCA Revisions Threaten State Power to Regulate Toxics

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides May 31, 2016) Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a revised version of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), marking the first time since 1976 Congress has taken steps to address the vast shortcomings of the law to protect human health and safety. Their revisions miss the mark, however, as the changes create the potential for new hurdles, delays, and restrictions on states’ ability to enact their own toxic chemical regulations. This is a dangerous development, expecially given the bipartisan recognition and acknowledgement of the need for TSCA reform. As the bill heads to the Senate, environmental advocates who believe in the preservation of state and local power to regulate toxics more stringently than the federal government must act to prevent its passage. Public health advocates and environmentalists have argued for decades that the  1976 Toxic Substances Control Act  is outdated and riddled with gaps that leave Americans exposed to harmful chemicals. Under current law, around 64,000 chemicals are not subject to environmental testing or regulation. In absence of federal reform over the past 40 years, many states, including Washington, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Minnesota, New York and Vermont, have stepped up to fill the void, taking […]

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Pesticides Found in Turtles in Sequoia National Park

Friday, April 29th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2016) Traces of pesticides, including the long-banned organochlorine chemical DDT, have been found in Western pond turtles, insects, and soil sediment at Sequoia National Park, according to a study.  The study, entitled Organic contaminants in western pond turtles in remote habitat in California  and published in the journal Chemosphere, surveys a suite of 57 current- and historic-use pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the western pond turtle, along with their potential prey items and habitat. California study sites include Sequoia National Park, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, and Six Rivers National Forest, all of which are downstream of undeveloped watersheds and varied in distance from agricultural and urban pollution sources. Researchers found that organic pollutants are widespread in the western pond turtle, which has conservation status; that pesticides are prominent in Sequoia National Park, which is downwind of heavy agriculture; and that the legacy  pesticides and PCB concentrations indicate that bioaccumulation is occurring. Brian Todd, Ph.D., an associate professor of wildlife, fish, and conservation biology at University of California Davis, co-authored the study. Dr. Todd said controlling the flow of pesticides into national parks is pretty much impossible. “Sequoia National Park is very […]

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Endocrine Disruptors Lead to Female Reproductive Disorders Costing Billions

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2016) A study published last month finds that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) plays an important role in the development of certain female reproductive disorders, and ultimately results in significant economic costs to society. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology &nMetabolism, and authorized by a team of scientists from New York University School of Medicine and Washington State University’s School of Molecular Biosciences, looked at the monetary impact of EDC-attributed female reproductive disorders in the European Union (EU). This economic valuation is part of series of analyses undertaken by the research team, which determined last year that over €150 billion ($162 billion) in yearly health care costs in the EU are attributable to the loss of brain function induced by EDCs. “There are substantial human and toxicological studies (in mice and other lab animals) that suggest that exposure to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals, many of which are increasing in use, are contributing to female reproductive conditions,” said study co-author Leonardo Trasande, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine to CNN. The study found that the strongest data linking EDCs to female reproductive disorders was exposure to diphenyldichloroethene (DDE) resulting in fibroids, […]

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More Companies To Label for GE Ingredients, While Maintaining Their Safety

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2016) This week, four major food manufacturing companies, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Mars, and ConAgra, committed to labeling food containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, while exclaiming the safety of GE food. Each company released statements citing the new Vermont labeling law, set to take effect this summer. The four companies joined Campbell Soup Company, which announced its  own label on GE ingredients in January. At the time,  Agri-Pulse reported, “Campbell made clear that it still supported the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, but said that there is a need for national labeling standards that would preempt state standards.” A summary of the companies’  releases are as follows: Kellogg’s Kellogg’s North America President, Paul Norman, insists upon the adoption of a “federal solution for the labeling of GMOs.” Until that happens, he says, “We will start labeling some of our products nationwide for the presence of  GMOs beginning in mid-to-late April. We chose nationwide labeling because a special label for Vermont would be logistically unmanageable and even more costly for us and our consumers.” In addition to a label, Kellogg’s launched OpenForBreakfast.com, which invites consumers to ask questions and learn more about products that include GE ingredients. […]

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Senate Democrats Introduce Bill Requiring GE Food Labeling, Includes Preemption of States

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides March 9, 2016) Last week, Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation to  require  that consumer food packaging  displays genetically engineered (GE) ingredient labeling. The Senators’ legislation, the Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act  (S.2621), presents an alternative to the primarily Republican-backed Biotechnology Labeling Solutions Bill that recently passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on a 14-6 vote. The Biotechnology Labeling Solutions Bill, which embodies several provisions of the much opposed DARK Act, will  hide ingredient information from consumers by overturning state GE labeling laws like that of Vermont’s. “Rather than blocking consumers’ access to information they want, the U.S. Senate should move forward with a solution that works for businesses and consumers alike,” said Senator Merkley. “There is a way to give consumers the information they are asking for without placing unfair or conflicting requirements on food producers. This legislation provides the common-sense pathway forward.” The  Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act  will allow American consumers to see whether a food has been prepared with GE ingredients, while offering food manufacturers several options for including this information on or near the ingredients list. This framework meets the needs of […]

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Senate Passes Bill to Overhaul Toxics Law with Multiple Flaws

Monday, December 21st, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2015) Last week, the U.S. Senate passed legislation (S.697, Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act) by unanimous consent to update  the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, the national law that regulates industrial chemicals. Before the bill becomes law, it must go to conference committee to iron out the differences of a much different version of the bill approved in June by the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 2576, TSCA Modernization Act of 2015). If the differences are reconciled and passed by both Houses of Congress, it will  then go to President Obama for signature. Mike Belliveau, executive director of Environmental Health Strategy Center in Maine, in a press release, issued the following statement in response to the Senate action: “Although improved, the Senate bill remains badly flawed. In a shameful give-away to chemical manufacturers and other multinational industries, the Senate bill would actually weaken current law.” The House bill lacks the same flaws that appear in the Senate bill. The House bill does not give a free pass to toxic toys or take away (preempt) the authority of the states to regulate these toxic materials. The serious problems with the […]

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Pesticide Exposure Linked to Abnormal Sperm Development

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, November 10, 2015) Exposure to organochlorine chemicals, such as DDE and PCBs, is linked to increased rates of sperm abnormalities that may lead to fertility problems, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. This is the latest study in a long line of research implicating endocrine (hormone)-disrupting chemicals in reproductive diseases. Researchers investigated this issue by observing the blood serum and sperm quality of 90 men, aged 22-44, participating in health studies in the Faroe Islands, an archipelago under  Denmark’s control that is  located between Iceland, the UK and Norway. Faroe islanders consume a high seafood diet that often consists of pilot whale, integral historically as a  food source for the Faroese people. However, this practice exposes the Faroese to higher than average levels of environmental contaminants. For the study, data on umbilical cord blood and blood serum at age 14 was available for 40 of the participants, allowing a researchers to measure lifetime impacts. Faroese participants were screened for sperm aneuploidy, a condition which usually involves an abnormal number of X or Y chromosomes in sperm, and is suspected as contributing to congenital abnormalities and up to 50% of early pregnancy losses. […]

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Fresh Produce Tainted With Illegal Pesticides

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2015) Tests on produce collected by California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) for 2014 show high levels of  illegal toxic pesticide residues. The CDPR report found 1 percent of produce containing an excess amount of pesticide residues, and an additional 5.5 percent of produce tested contained illegal residues of pesticides that are not allowed for use on that product. Additionally, the data shows residues of a banned  chemical, which was taken off the market  over 20 years in the U.S. due to health concerns related to farmworker exposure. These findings showcase issues related to  system-wide failure in  enforcement. Advocates stress that violations may continue to occur due to inadequacies in regulations governing enforcement authorities, which include warnings or low fines for violators. In raising concerns about the safety of food grown with chemical-intensive methods, advocates point to the need to expand the transition to organic agriculture for better protection of public health and safety. The highest percentage of illegal pesticides was found on cactus pads and cactus fruit imported from Mexico. Some of the other tainted fruit and vegetables include limes, papaya, summer squash, tomatillos, chili peppers, and tomatoes, also from Mexico, ginger imported from China, […]

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Lice Found Resistant to Common Insecticide Treatment

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2015) Just as children go  back to school, research  finds that lice in 25 of 30 states in a  U.S. study have developed resistance to common over-the-counter treatments like permethrin, calling into questions the justification for exposing children to a neurotoxic and carcinogenic pesticide and elevating the need to consider nontoxic alternatives. The  research was presented Tuesday at the 250th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), by Kyong Yoon, Ph.D., of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Classified as a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide, permethrin is “likely carcinogenic” and a suspected endocrine disruptor, immunotoxic, neurotoxic, and highly toxic to fish, aquatic animals, and bees. Dr. Yoon and his colleagues describe the threefold mutations that lice have developed over time due to the constant use of synthetic pyrethroid insecticides. This new finding builds on his team’s previous research, which found that 99.6% of lice are resistant to chemical treatment, adding weight to the fact that chemical treatments not only are unnecessary given effective least-toxic alternatives, but also are not able to provide the lice control that manufacturers claim. “We are the first group to collect lice samples from a large number of populations across the U.S.,” […]

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Childhood Development Hurt By Preconception Exposure to Environmental Stressors

Friday, August 7th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2015) Parental exposure to environmental stressors, such as pesticides, before a child is conceived can alter the way genes are expressed in the mother and father, ultimately harming the child’s health when those genes are passed down to the next generation, according to an article published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology. “In regard to environmental stressors, a good start lasts a lifetime,” said Philippe Grandjean, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Grandjean is Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health at the Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an author of the article. “Unfortunately, current testing paradigms do not properly assess the impact of risk factors during vulnerable exposure windows. Without new policies and guidelines, we cannot have a universal healthy start for children.” The article, titled Life-Long Implications of Developmental Exposure to Environmental Stressors: New Perspectives, summarizes the newest science and key insights from the 4th  Conference on Prenatal Programming and Toxicity (PPTOX IV). More than 300 people attended the event in Boston, MA in October 2014. The meeting featured poster presentations discussing the impact of chemical, physical, and biological environmental stressors on the interconnected […]

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California Fines Six Firms for Repeated Pesticide-Tainted Crop Violations

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, August 6, 2015) On July 28, the California Department of Pesticide (DPR) released a statement announcing recent sanctions for six California import firms who repeatedly violated pesticide regulations. Since December of last year, these six firms have been selling imported products that have been tainted with pesticides not approved for production or sale in the United States, including DDE, imidacloprid, chlorpyrifos, and the long-banned endosulfan. The fines range from $10,000 to $21,000. The six firms responsible for selling fruits and vegetables containing illegal pesticide residues are: Top Quality Produce, Inc. 623 Vineland Avenue, La Puente, CA 91746 will pay $10,000. On 5 separate occasions, the company sold produce such as Longan imported from Thailand, Burdock Root imported from Taiwan and Lychees imported from China with illegal pesticide residues. The produce was sold between November 2013 and July 2014. Yi Bao Produce Group, 3015 Leonis Blvd, Vernon CA 90058, will pay $15,000. On 7 separate occasions, the company sold produce imported from China such as Ginger, Taro Root, Longan and Fragrant Pear with illegal pesticide residues. The produce was sold between March 2013 and September 2014. Primary Export International Inc. 143 Mitchell Ave., South San Francisco, CA 94080, will […]

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Popular Weed Killer 2,4-D and Lice Treatment Lindane Classified as Carcinogens

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2015) The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found that there is some evidence in experimental animals that the popular herbicide, 2,4-D, is linked to cancer and now classifies it as a Group 2B, “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” IARC also classified lindane, used commonly in the U.S. as a topical lice treatment, in Group 1,“carcinogenic to humans” based on sufficient evidence in humans with the onset of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). These latest cancer findings come just months after the agency classified the world’s most widely used herbicide, glyphosate (Roundup), as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” raising public concerns on the lack of action from U.S. regulators. This month, 26 experts from 13 countries met at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) IARC in Lyon, France to assess the carcinogenicity of the insecticide lindane, the herbicide 2,4-D, and insecticide DDT. The findings are published in the Lancet. The new IARC findings come months after the agency classified glyphosate, the ingredient in the popular Roundup weed killer, as a Group 2A “probable” carcinogen, citing sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity based on laboratory studies. This decision sparked renewed calls for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action on […]

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DDT Exposure in Utero Directly Linked to Development of Breast Cancer Later in Life

Friday, June 19th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2015) A new study directly links exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in utero to the development of breast cancer later in life. Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the study looked at data that were taken from a California program that  evaluated  samples from women during 1960s, when DDT use was popular. DDT is known to be an endocrine disruptor, and is linked to serious health effects. Although DDT has been banned for many years, residues still linger in certain areas of the U.S. and continue to cause environmental and health hazards. The recent study, titled DDT Exposure in Utero and Breast Cancer,  focuses on 118 mothers who were members of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan from 1959-1967 and had daughters that were diagnosed with breast cancer by their 50s. Stored blood samples from these mothers gave researchers an idea of how much DDT they were exposed to during pregnancy or soon after giving birth. They found that elevated levels of DDT in the mother’s blood led to a four-fold increase in the daughter’s risk of developing breast cancer. Among those with cancer, 83% had a form of cancer called estrogen positive breast cancer, which […]

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DDT Still Pervasive in Small Michigan Town

Monday, June 15th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2015) A community in central Michigan is still dealing with the fallout of a pesticide company that produced DDT nearly half a century ago. St. Louis, MI, a city about one hour north of the state capital Lansing, has long dealt with contamination left behind by the Velsicol Chemical Corporation, which manufactured pesticides in the town until 1963, when it left  and  abandoned loads of DDT in its wake. DDT, known for accumulating in food webs and persisting for decades in soil and river sediment, was banned in the U.S.  in 1972, but problems associated with its prevalent use until that time still plague the community to this day. This situation  has led to a multi-million dollar clean-up effort at taxpayers’ expense  by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). EPA took control of the Velsicol plant as a Superfund site in 1982, but decades-long delays in the cleanup of the old chemical factory have left songbirds, and potentially people at risk nearly thirty years later. After years of complaints from residents, researchers  recently reported  that robins and other birds are dropping dead from DDT poisoning. The dead robins and other […]

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International Treaty Bans Pentachlorophenal, U.S. Continues Use on Utility Poles and Railroad Ties

Monday, May 18th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2015) Delegates from more than 90 countries took the unprecedented step of voting last week for a global ban on  pentachlorophenol (penta) — a proven toxic pesticide and contaminant found  in wildlife and human biomonitoring studies worldwide. The historic vote came at the combined meetings of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions — which usually make decisions by consensus — after India repeatedly blocked action. The U.S. is not a signatory to the Stockholm Convention, which provides the framework to moving persistent organic pollutants out of commerce. During the meeting, India surprisingly rejected the findings of the Stockholm Convention’s own scientific expert committee in which it participated. Switzerland triggered the voting procedure — the first in the history of the convention. Ninety-four countries voted in favor of  global prohibition of pentachlorophenol; two opposed; and eight countries abstained. “We commend the global community for this important decision which will help ensure that the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic and the traditional foods on which they depend are protected  against toxic pentachlorophenol,” said Pamela Miller of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. The delegates of the Stockholm Convention also supported international bans on two other  industrial chemicals that harm […]

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