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Chemical Companies Knowingly Allowed Carcinogenic Contaminant in Common Pesticide

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2017) Multinational chemical companies Dow Chemical Company and Shell Chemical Company knowingly sold and marketed fumigants contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical that had a strong propensity to leach into and remain in groundwater, according to a recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and a lawsuit against the companies. The contaminant of concern, 1,2,3-trichloropropene (TCP), was a manufacturing by-product found in Dow’s Telone and Shell’s D-D fumigant pesticide products with the active ingredient 1,3-Dichloropropene. The products, used to kill soil-dwelling nematodes, are toxic in their own right, but contained TCP in their formulation from the 1940s until the mid-1980s. EWG’s report details widespread contamination of drinking water in California’s agricultural regions, with detections found in 562 wells, and 94 public water systems identifying TCP above legal limits. Thirty-seven additional public water systems serving nearly 4 million U.S. residents throughout the country were also found to contain TCP. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never set maximum contaminant levels for TCP in drinking water, but requires public reporting above the infinitesimally small amount of 30 parts per trillion, roughly six times higher than what the state of California requires. However, even proposed limits of 5 parts per trillion […]

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California Regulators Sued for Allowing Increased Use of Toxic Fumigant without Public Input

Monday, February 6th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 6, 2017) California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) rules that allow greater use of the highly toxic fumigant Telone, while decreasing protections for the public, have been challenged in California court. On January 31, attorneys representing Juana Vasquez, a farmworker in Ventura County, along with Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), filed suit in the Superior Court of California against the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR). The suit claims that CDPR failed to follow required public procedures in developing new rules for 1,3-Dicholopropene (1,3-D), which is an active ingredient in the product Telone and has many documented health risks, including cancer and kidney and liver damage. In October 2016, CDPR released new rules that allow the continued use of Telone and decrease protections for public health by permitting increased usage. CDPR and many news outlets reported the rule change as a tightening of the restrictions, but in reality, the new rules increase the previous annual cap from 90,250 pounds to 136,000 pounds per township, a defined area of 6×6 miles. These new rules went into effect on January 1, 2017, allowing for 1,3-D’s continued use in strawberry fields, vineyards, almond […]

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Death of Four Texas Children Linked to Inadequately Regulated Pesticide, Follows Other Deaths

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2017) The New Year saw its first pesticide-related tragedy yesterday when four children, ranging in age from 7-17, died from a toxic pesticide treatment on their house in Amarillo, Texas. The pesticide at issue, aluminum phosphide, was illegally applied under a mobile home where at least ten people were living. The chemical, classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a restricted use pesticide (RUP), is restricted for use by certified applicators (and those under their supervision) and it is a violation to use it within 100 feet of residential structures. CNN reports that a family member used water to try and wash away the pesticide after it was applied, and the combination of water and aluminum phosphide increased the release of toxic phosphine gas. The incident demonstrates the deficiency of managing risks of highly toxic chemicals by labeling them “restricted use.” It has been Beyond Pesticides’ position that chemicals with aluminum phosphide’s level of toxicity should not be available on the market, even with restrictions. In making regulatory determinations on pesticide allowances, advocates have urged EPA to calculate the reality of misuse and accidents, instead of assuming 100% compliance with product label instructions. With this approach, the agency would […]

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EPA To Investigate Pesticide Misuse in Hawaii by Terminix and Monsanto

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently began an investigation of the agrochemical company Monsanto and home pest control giant Terminix for pesticide law violations in Hawaii. Scott Enright, director of the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture (HDOA), said that cases are often referred to EPA when they involve federal jurisdiction, repeat violations, or serious allegations. According to him, the Terminix case was referred to EPA because the complaint included multiple allegations, but he refused to share information about the details of the Monsanto case, citing policies against commenting on ongoing investigations. A third case against Wonder Farm has also been referred to EPA, making for a total of five pesticide-related cases in Hawaii the federal agency has worked on this year. The number of cases referred to EPA is not surprising, as Hawaii has long struggled to keep up with the demands of enforcing pesticide laws within the state. In the wake of these shortcomings, this past summer, Earthjustice sent a letter to EPA requesting that the agency notify the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture of its chronic failure to meet statutory duties for pesticides regulation and enforcement under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and […]

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California Regulators Allow an Increase in Toxic Fumigant Use, Failing to Protect Public and Farmworker Health

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2016) Last week, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) released new rules that allow for continued use of the toxic fumigant Telone and reduce public health protection by permitting increased usage. One of the active ingredients in the product Telone,  1,3-Dicholorpropene (1,3-D), has many documented health risks, including cancer and kidney and liver damage. While CDPR and many news outlets reported the rule change as a tightening of the restrictions, the new rules effectively increase the previous annual cap from 90,250 pounds to 136,000 pounds per township, a defined area of 6×6 miles. According to CDPR documents, the primary revisions include: increasing the annual limit to 136,000 pounds within each pesticide township, eliminating “rollover” of unused pesticide allotments from prior years, and banning use of Telone in December, when weather conditions are especially problematic for air pollution. These new rules, which go into effect January 1, will allow for 1,3-D’s continued use in strawberry fields, vineyards, almond orchards, and other crops around California. CDPR has been characterizing  its changes in management of 1,3-D as increasingly protective of public health in the state. In making these revisions to the rules, CDPR completed an updated risk assessment […]

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Public Health Watchdog Sues Dow Chemical in California Over Air Pollution Caused by Toxic Pesticide

Monday, September 26th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides September 26, 2016) Last week, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) filed a lawsuit against Dow Agrosciences LLC, also known as Dow Chemical, charging  that the “chemical manufacturing giant” fails to warn communities across California about the dangers associated with wide use of the chemical Telone. A trade name for the chemical 1,3-Dicholoropropene, or 1,3-D, Telone is a known carcinogen and is the third most heavily used pesticide in the state. The case focuses on the air pollution caused by the pesticide, as it has been found to linger in the air for multiple days after application, disproportionately impacting the rural communities, often with large minority populations, that live in the immediate vicinity. The case was filed in the State of California Alameda County Superior Court, and Dow has yet to comment or release a statement addressing the allegations against the company. Routinely applied to strawberry fields, almond orchards, vineyards, and an array of other crops, 1,3-D is a restricted use soil  fumigant, used to kill nematodes, insects, and weeds that has strong links  to cancer and other serious health issues. The use of the chemical in the production of strawberries came into prominence with the forced reduction […]

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Judge Orders Release of Terminix Documents in Methyl Bromide Poisoning of Family

Friday, August 26th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, August 26, 2016) Virgin Islands Superior Court Judge, Harold Willocks denied a request made by Terminix to stop a subpoena for Terminix documents in the methyl bromide poisoning case  issued  by Attorney General Claude Earl Walker, according to The Virgin Islands Consortium. The paper reported that the subpoena ordered the pest control company to provide documents and information relating to an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ). This follows two settlement agreements made by Terminix; one to pay $10 million to DOJ and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, and another to pay $87 million to the Esmond family, poisoned by the misuse of a neurotoxic pesticide fumigant, methyl bromide, when they vacationed in the Virgin Islands in the spring of 2015. According to the Virgin Islands Consortium, DOJ launched  another investigation into Terminix after the Esmonds were poisoned to determine if there had been a violation of the Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (CICO). Attorney General Walker issued the original subpoena on April 28, requesting that Terminix surrender all information related to the purchase, use and import of methyl bromide obtained within the past three years. […]

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Availability of Highly Toxic Pesticide Leads to Multiple Deaths in Dubai from Illegal Use

Monday, August 15th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2016) According to recent reports, the illegal misuse of pesticides in Dubai has left ten people dead within the last year. The culprit? Domestic use of a pesticide containing highly toxic aluminum phosphide sold on the black market, touted as a way to fight bed bugs for low-income families that may not have the education level or means to research and pursue other options. While the government acknowledges a significant problem given the common occurrence of these  deaths, those in positions of power are admittedly at a loss when it comes to finding a solution, with some calling for a crack down on those selling the pesticides illegally, and others wanting to punish those that buy and use it. Regardless of the actions, elected officials decide to pursue, embracing organic pest management systems, as well as a robust education campaign, will be critical in curbing these deaths. Given the availability of greener, safer alternatives, Beyond Pesticides opposes any registration or allowance of phosphide fumigants and other highly toxic chemicals that can be easily misused. Phosphide fumigants, including aluminum phosphide, are known to be acutely toxic when ingested or inhaled. Symptoms of mild to moderate acute exposure […]

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Terminix To Pay $10 Million Criminal Fine for Poisoning Family in Virgin Islands

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2016) On Tuesday, Terminix International LP and its U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) operation agreed to a $10 million plea agreement after being  charged by the U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  in U.S. District Court with multiple violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for “illegally applying fumigants containing methyl bromide in multiple residential locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands.” This decision by Terminix to pay criminal fines comes just one year after a Delaware family of four was poisoned with the neurotoxic pesticide at a resort in St. John, resulting in hospitalization and serious injury. The agreement, which is still subject to District Court approval, requires Terminix USVI to pay $6 million in fines and restitution to EPA for response and clean-up costs, and Terminix LP to pay $3 million in fines and fund a $1 million community service project, and a probation period of three years. In addition, Terminix LP is also responsible for resolving past and future medical expenses for the family through separate civil proceedings. Last March, a family from Delaware was vacationing at a  luxury condo in the U.S. Virgin Islands when they were exposed to […]

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Hazards Linked to Still Unregulated Pesticide Mixtures

Friday, February 19th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2016) Pesticide mixtures are more harmful than individual pesticides, according to a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) study that focuses on three commonly used fumigants — chloropicrin, Telone, and metam salts. The study also concludes that, while California law requires the Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) and county agricultural commissioners to assess these kinds of cumulative risks when regulating pesticides, they have so far failed to do so. The report, titled Exposure and Interaction — The Potential Health Impacts of Using Multiple Pesticides: A Case Study of Three Commonly Used Fumigants, was published by the Sustainable Technology and Policy Program, based in the UCLA School of Law and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. The case study of the three fumigants, which are commonly applied together in California on high value crops, such as strawberries, tomatoes, tree nuts, and stone fruits, finds that: These pesticides may interact to increase the health risk for California farm workers and residents, Workers and residents are regularly exposed to two or more of these pesticides simultaneously, and DPR does not regulate the application of multiple pesticides to prevent or decrease risks to human health, despite having authority to […]

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EPA Takes Long-Awaited Action to Eliminate Neurotoxic Chlorpyrifos in Agriculture

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to revoke all food tolerances for the organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos (also known as Dursban), a neurotoxic pesticide produced by Dow AgroSciences that poses particular risks to children and farmworkers. If EPA’s rule is finalized, chlorpyrifos would be effectively eliminated from use in agriculture 15 years after consumer uses were discontinued. However, other non-food uses, including golf courses, turf, green house and mosquito control are not affected by this decision and will remain. EPA’s proposed rule came on the day of a court-ordered deadline from the U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Ninth Circuit, M. Margaret McKeown. In August of this year, Judge McKeown ordered EPA to respond to a petition filed by Pesticide Action Network North America and the Natural Resources Defense Council nearly nine years ago. The lawsuit called on the agency to ban all uses of the insecticide in light of scientific evidence and public comments ignored by the agency after its cumulative risk assessment for organophosphate insecticides. In 2012, EPA imposed “no-spray” buffer zones around public spaces, including recreational areas, schools, and homes to reduce bystander exposure risks. Earlier this year, the agency […]

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Ten-Year-Old Suffers Traumatic Brain Injury After Home Treated with Pesticide

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides September 9, 2015) A young Florida boy and his family are reeling after a routine termite treatment resulted in a devastating outcome. Ten-year-old Peyton McCaughey of Palm City, Florida has been in the hospital for weeks following a severe reaction to chemicals used to fumigate his family’s home. According to news reports, the  fumigation was performed by Sunland Pest Control, a subcontractor of Terminix. The Florida Department of Agriculture has since issued a “Stop Work Order” while it  investigates the company in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state Department of Health. After returning to their home hours after the Terminix subcontractor told them it was safe to enter, the whole family became very ill. While the parents and the 7-year-old daughter recovered, the young boy’s condition continued to worsen. “He was having some uncontrollable muscle movements, couldn’t stand up, couldn’t speak, so they took him to a local walk-in and the doctor quickly recognized it was probably poisoning from a treatment,” said Peyton’s uncle, Ed Gribben. Current reports indicate that the boy has likely suffered brain damage and has lost all muscle control, rendering him unable to stand or speak. He remains in a […]

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Family of Four Poisoned by Illegal Pesticide Use, Remain in Critical Condition

Friday, April 10th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, April 10, 2015) Three members of a Delaware family, a father and his two teenage sons, remain hospitalized after being exposed last month to methyl bromide, a highly neurotoxic pesticide, while on vacation at their luxury condo in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Methyl bromide is a restricted use pesticide and is not registered for residential use, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2013 Methyl Bromide Preliminary Workplan (pg. 6). Although mostly banned in the U.S., it can still be used in certain agricultural and food storage sites under a controversial “critical use exemption” loophole in federal (and international) law. According to James Maron, a family spokesman, Steve Esmond, his wife, Theresa Devine, and their two teenage sons are being treated at hospitals in the mainland United States. Mr. Esmond has regained consciousness, but his sons are in critical condition and remain in a coma weeks after the exposure. Use of methyl bromide was confirmed the day after the family became ill, which has helped inform doctors and medical experts on how to treat the family, said Judith Enck, EPA’s regional administrator in New York City, which has jurisdiction over the U.S Virgin Islands. “We have confirmed […]

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California Tightens Pesticide Limits on Strawberries and Other Crops

Friday, January 16th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2015) The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) announced Wednesday that it is implementing the country’s strictest limits on chloropicrin, a chemical injected into the soil where strawberries, raspberries, almonds, and other crops are grown. The soil fumigant has been linked to a litany of health effects, such as respiratory ailments, skin irritation, and headaches, due to exposure to drift in surrounding areas over recent years. The new rules set up wider buffer zones of up to 100 feet around fields where the pesticide is applied. Growers will be restricted to fumigating 40 acres a day unless they use stronger tarps to prevent pesticide drift. Growers are also required to give the state 48 hours notice before fumigating and notify surrounding homes and businesses in Spanish and English. Chloropicrin is used to control soil pathogens, nematodes, and certain weeds, and can be used alone or in combination with another fumigant, either 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D) or methyl bromide, both of which have also been shown to be toxic to human health and potent environmental contaminants. The new chloropicrin restrictions are timely; a 2011 report found that pesticide use rose in 2010 after a four-year decline. The pesticides with […]

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California Schools Implement Stronger Pesticide Requirements with Start of New Year

Monday, January 12th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2015) California schools have started implementing new pesticide reporting and use requirements with the start of 2015. All schools and child day care centers statewide are now required to report their annual use of pesticides to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR). The requirement comes via amendments made to the state Healthy Schools Act, which requires schools and day care centers to: Develop an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan and make it available to the public. Report pesticide use at minimum once a year for pesticides that are not exempt. The first reports will be due January 30, 2016, and will include use from January 1 to Dec. 31, 2015. After July 1, 2016, school staff involved in application of pesticides will be required to complete school-related IPM training annually. Professional applicators will be required to receive this training before application at a school site. In the past, pesticide use on school property was reported to the state by the applicator, which was usually a company contracted by the school district. Now the district must report all use of these chemicals by its own staff. “The real effect in January. . .means that school districts […]

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California Strawberry Production Thrives as Regulators Allow Elevated Hazards

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2014) In an investigative report, Dark Side of the Strawberry, Center for Investigative Reporting provides a sordid story and analysis of  the rise of one of California’s most prized crops, strawberries, while state  regulators  ignored public health and environmental risks associated with the pesticides used in their production. The report focuses on a pesticide called 1,3-Dichloropropene (1,3-D), a restricted use soil  fumigant used to kill nematodes, insects, and weeds, that has strong links to cancer and other serious health issues. The use of the chemical in the production of strawberries came into prominence with the forced reduction of another fumigant, methyl bromide. As the report chronicles, besides the many other issues associated with methyl bromide, scientists began to become concerned sometime in 1970s that escaped methyl bromide gas had serious effects on the ozone and was blamed for between 5 and 10 percent of ozone depletion. With the signing of Montreal Protocol in 1987, a treaty that President Reagan signed on behalf of the U.S., methyl bromide became the only pesticide to be banned by treaty, a ban meant to be in full effect by 2005. While the European Union and other industrialized nations followed through […]

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Another Study Links Depression in Farmers to Pesticide Use

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2014) A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds a strong relationship between the use of pesticides and depression in farmers. One specific class of pesticide, organochlorines, was associated with a 90% higher chance of being diagnosed with depression. For fumigants, the increased risk was up to 80 percent. This study echoes the conclusion from an earlier French study which also reported that farmers using pesticides face  a greater risk of developing depression. The study, Pesticide Exposure and Depression among Male Private Pesticide Applicators in the Agricultural Health Study, examines possible associations between pesticide exposure and depression among male private pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). Over 21,000 applicators who enrolled in the study in 1993—1997 were followed and examined. The applicators were asked about depression when enrolled in the study and then again around 2010. Previous work with this AHS sample found a higher prevalence of depression among male applicators who reported past pesticide poisoning or use of pesticides from several different classes. However, this study examines specific pesticides, and finds that two types of pesticides, fumigants and organochlorine insecticides are positively correlated with depression and cumulative days of use. Those exposed […]

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Report Finds Numerous Schools Near Toxic Pesticide Fields

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2014) A new report from the California Department of Public Health finds 36 percent of public schools in the state have pesticides of public health concern applied within a quarter mile of the school. Persistent and toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos, methyl bromide, and malathion are among the pesticides found to be applied near schools. The report also finds that Latino children are also more likely to attend schools near areas with the highest use of pesticides of concern. The report, “Agricultural Pesticide Use near Public Schools In California,” released this month, looked at 2,511 schools in the 15 California counties with the highest overall use of farm pesticides in California for 2010, and finds that counties in the southern part of the Central Valley had the most schools near farms where pesticides were applied. Fresno County had the highest number of schools —131 — with pesticides applied nearby. Five percent of schools are within a quarter mile of where the highest volumes of pesticides are used: 2,635—28,979 pounds of active ingredient. Latino children are 46 percent more likely than white children to attend schools where pesticides of concern were applied nearby. The report’s findings are being […]

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Backdoor Farm Bill Amendment Orders EPA to Ignore Unsafe Levels of Fluoride in Kid’s Food

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2014) With the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Agriculture Act of 2014 (commonly known as the Farm Bill) yesterday, conventional farming allies and chemical agribusiness dealt a dangerous blow to children’s health protections and offered up yet another reason for consumers everywhere to support organic. The behind-closed-door amendment to the Farm Bill that appeared in neither the pre-conference House or Senate-passed versions of the Bill available to the public, orders the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ignore its ruling that levels of fluoride left in food treated with the toxic fumigant sulfuryl fluoride are unsafe for consumers everywhere, especially children and infants. Looking at the Numbers Under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), a law designed to provide stronger protections for infants and children from pesticides, EPA must consider the aggregate dose that children receive from pesticide residues along with the other “nonpesticidal” sources. In the case of sulfuryl fluoride, a fumigant used in closed structures such as barns, storage buildings, commercial warehouses, ships in port, and railroad cars and thus also found on their stored contents like grains and other crops, this is an important consideration because other sources of fluoride abound […]

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Feds Moves to Dismiss Case Seeking to Protect Children from Pesticides

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2013) The U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion in federal court asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to uphold environmental justice protections under civil rights law. EPA previously found that Latino schools in California disproportionately suffer from exposure to pesticides due to spraying near their schools, but has yet to adequately remedy these risks, prompting parents to file a civil rights complaint. The schools are near crop fields where toxic fumigants are routinely sprayed and drift off agricultural fields to the nearby community. More than a decade after Latino parents first filed a civil rights complaint with EPA detailing the dangerous levels of pesticides at Latino public schools throughout California, parents on Aug. 23, 2013 filed a lawsuit against EPA to force the agency to protect the civil rights of hundreds of Latino children. The parent say that  ongoing pesticide monitoring set up by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) has not protected children from excessive exposure to pesticides.  The case argues that the Latino community did not receive due process and that EPA’s agreement with CDPR does not prevent schools from pesticide […]

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California Passes Bill to Tackle Pesticide Drift

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, October 9, 2013) California Governor Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Bill 304, a bill designed to protect people from harmful pesticides identified as Toxic Air Contaminants (TACs). The bill will require the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to develop mitigation measures for the use of harmful pesticides that vaporize and drift from application sites. California, a major user of pesticidefumigants, has tried to tackle to prevalence of pesticide drift in the state, and is one of few states that monitor air-borne pesticides. AB 304: “Pesticides: toxic air contaminant: control measures” introduced by Assembly member Das G. Williams (D-Santa Barbara), gives the DPR two years to reduce the effects of harmful air toxins once the department determines that additional mitigation measures are necessary. Fumigants are some of the most dangerous pesticides on the market and include the controversial methyl iodide. They are applied in large quantities, vaporize easily, drift away and expose nearby farmworkers and other community members to harm, with health effects linked to headaches, vomiting, severe lung irritation, and neurological effects. Some fumigants are linked to cancer, reduced fertility, birth defects and higher rates of miscarriage. “Californians have a right to breathe clean air, and not worry […]

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Report Finds Need for California to Improve Its Pesticide Approval Process

Monday, September 30th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2013) A new report, published by UCLA’s Sustainable Technology and Policy Program, finds that the California Department of Pesticides Registration (DPR) has failed to ensure that pesticides it approves are safe. Using methyl iodide as a case study, researchers point to key deficits in the approval process and make recommendations for improvements. Methyl iodide was used as a fumigant to control pests on strawberries, despite its threats to human health. It (i) causes miscarriages, thyroid dysfunction, and cancer, (ii) is neurotoxic, causing psychiatric symptoms and movement disorders similar to Parkinson’s disease,  and (iii)  is a developmental toxin that impairs fetal development. The fumigant was designed as a substitute for methyl bromide, which is slated for phase-out by 2015 as an ozone-depleting chemical under the Montreal Protocol. In the formulation, methyl iodide was combined with another fumigant, chloropicrin, to control for pests and approved for use by California DPR on December 2010, despite severe human health risks presented by scientists and substantial outcry by environmental and farmworker organizations. The report, entitled “Risk and Decision: Evaluating Pesticide Approval in California,” examines the effectiveness of DPR in registering pesticides. Most importantly, the report highlights the flawed risk assessment approach […]

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Study Finds Women Near Pesticide-Treated Fields Have Lower Weight Babies

Friday, September 20th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2013) A study of women in Northern California farm towns finds that those living within three miles of strawberries fields treated with methyl bromide gave birth to smaller, lighter babies. Methyl bromides, a fumigant pesticide injected into soils to eliminate soil-borne pests, can volatize into the air exposing nearby neighborhoods. The U.S. and other developed countries have banned the use of methyl bromide under an international treaty that recognized the role of chemicals like methyl bromide to deplete the ozone layer. However, some farmers continue to use the fumigant on strawberries and other crops due to the “critical use exemption” (CUE) stipulation of the laws, which allows the chemical to continue to be used when there are no feasible alternatives. The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, examined the health of babies born to 442 pregnant women living in Salinas Valley, CA in 1999 and 2000, when methyl bromide was widely used.   Utilizing data from California’s Pesticide Use Reporting System, the study was able to identify residences that were within 5 kilometers of methyl bromide application. Researchers find that women exposed to the chemical during their second trimester have babies that are  four ounces lighter […]

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