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New Study Links Pesticide Use to Thyroid Disease in Women

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2010) Wives of agricultural pesticide applicators have a significantly increased risk of developing thyroid disease, according to the new study, “Pesticide Use and Thyroid Disease Among Women in the Agricultural Health Study,” published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Using data collected from more than 16,500 female spouses from Iowa and North Carolina enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study from 1993 to 1997, the researchers show that 12.5 percent of the women have thyroid disease, 6.9 percent have hypothyroidism and 2.1 percent have hyperthyroidism; whereas, the national average is 5 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Thyroid disease is more common in women than men and is the second most common hormone disorder affecting women of childbearing age. According to the study results, ever use of a fungicide shows a slight increased risk (odds ratio (OR) 1.4) and ever use of an organochlorine insecticide shows a 1.2 OR for hypothyroidism. Ever use of the fungicide benomyl shows a more than tripling of risk to hypothyroidism, whereas the fungicides maneb and mancozeb show a more than doubling and the herbicide paraquat shows a nearly doubling of risk. Maneb and mancozeb also show a more than doubling of risk […]

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Scientists Again Raise Health Concerns about Use of Toxic Fumigant Methyl Iodide

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2009) Transcripts released last week from an external peer review panel convened in September to evaluate California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) risk assessment of the fumigant methyl iodide show that the panel’s leading scientists have serious concerns about this chemical. Methyl iodide is currently being considered for use on California’s crops, especially strawberries. The scientific panel held a public workshop, entitled “Methyl Iodide External Peer Review Panel Workshop,” on September 24-25, 2009 in Sacramento, CA as part of an additional, external peer review for methyl iodide. Previously planned public and scientific review processes were subject to cancellation or postponement by the Governor’s office. Led by John Froines, Ph.D., director of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of California, Los Angles, the panel consisted of eight experts in various scientific fields. The scientists expressed concern over inadequate buffer zones, ground water contamination and drinking water exposures, body burden, neuro-degeneration, reproductive toxicity and carcinogenicity that are associated with methyl iodide use and exposures. Panel members also challenged EPA’s assessment and found EPA’s scientific conclusions on methyl iodide to be lacking. The transcripts and other workshop presentations are available here. These concerns underscore previous […]

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Legislature Investigates Methyl Iodide, Slated for Use in California

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, August 5, 2009) In a letter authored by Senator Mark Leno and Assemblymember Bill Monning, and signed by twenty-five state legislators, the signatories called on Governor Schwarzenegger to keep the controversial pesticide methyl iodide out of California’s strawberry fields. “We strongly believe that methyl iodide has no role to play in building a secure, viable and healthy agricultural economy in the 21st Century,” said authors Senator Leno and Assemblymember Monning. On August 19, the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee will meet to explore the approval of methyl iodide and the potential impact on workers. “While I am encouraged at the decision of DPR to pursue the external peer review and public testimony, I still believe it is imperative to devote a special informational hearing by the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee focused on worker health and safety issues related to the potential registration of Methyl Iodide,” said Assemblymember Monning. “We are pleased that this group of legislators is taking the lead to protect public health. The scientific review of methyl iodide is very important in this case because of the sheer number of hazards it poses–cancer, thyroid disease, miscarriages, and neurotoxicity. This highly politicized process needs a reality […]

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California Governor Could Force Methyl Iodide Registration

Monday, July 13th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2009) With the stroke of a pen, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger could bow to industry interests and force the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to register a new fumigant pesticide, methyl iodide. Highly toxic, and not approved for use in California, this chemical has been given a comprehensive review by the state’s own Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and found to be one of the riskiest pesticides in existence. Scientists familiar with methyl iodide are asking Mr. Schwarzenegger to let science, rather than political pressure, guide this decision. “Methyl iodide is so toxic that scientists working with it in the laboratory take extreme precautions when handling it, using a ventilation hood, gloves, and special equipment for transferring it so it does not escape to the air,” notes Susan Kegley, Ph.D., a chemist and consulting scientist for Pesticide Action Network North America. “This degree of protection is not possible in an agricultural setting where the pesticide would be applied at rates of 175 pounds per acre in the open air. Buffer zones of 400 feet (a distance most growers would say is unworkable) for a 40-acre fumigation would still result in a dose of methyl iodide to neighbors […]

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CA Reports Overall Pesticide Use Down, Use on Strawberries Up

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2007) On November 29, 2007, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) reported 2006 pesticide use statistics that showed continued progress toward less pesticide use statewide. However, strawberry growers increased their reliance the highly toxic, ozone depleting fumigant methyl bromide. Overall statewide pesticide use declined by nearly six million pounds from 2005 to 2006 (from 195.3 million to 189.6 million). While use increased in landscape maintenance, public health and other categories, production agriculture saw a 10 million pound drop. Use of many high-toxicity chemicals, including carcinogens, neurotoxic pesticides and chemicals linked to reproductive effects dropped for the third consecutive year. “DPR works hard to promote least-toxic pest management, and our efforts are paying off,” said DPR director Mary-Ann Warmerdam. “At the same time, we will continue to strive for long-term success in pest management, and we have more work to do.” On the other hand, the Los Angeles Times reports that state strawberry growers, primarily around Oxnard and in the Salinas and Watsonville areas, applied fumigants to 5,000 more acres, using 132 more tons of the chemicals than in the previous year. That is a 9% increase in acreage treated and a 3% increase in tonnage. […]

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EPA Delays Approval of Methyl Iodide

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2007) On September 28, 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delayed approval of the pesticide methyl iodide, a highly toxic replacement chemical for the ozone-depleting methyl bromide (also called iodomethane), after more than 50 prominent scientists objected that the chemical was too dangerous. The decision surprised environmentalists who assumed the pesticide would most likely be registered despite opposition. According to EPA, it now “will address recent questions prompted by the pending registration of iodomethane.” On September 24, 2007, scientists across the country — including six Nobel prize winners, alarmed by the prospect of registering methyl iodide as a pesticide, issued a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson urging the Agency not to sanction the broad use of methyl iodide now or at any time. “The gratifying thing is that EPA has been responsive to people who are really concerned about this,” Robert Bergman, a University of California at Berkeley professor who organized the scientists’ letter, told the Associated Press. The letter criticized EPA’s scientific analysis, calling for an independent scientific review of the agency’s assessment. Methyl iodide and methyl bromide are injected into the soil at rates of 100-400 pounds per acre to kill soil-borne pests. […]

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EPA Expected To Allow Toxic Fumigant for Agriculture

Friday, September 28th, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2007) EPA is due to make a decision on methyl iodide, a highly reactive and carcinogenic chemical, for use in crop production as a soil fumigant. Scientists across the country are alarmed by the prospect of registering methyl iodide as a pesticide, and fifty-four chemists and physicians from across the country issued a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson Monday urging the Agency not to sanction the broad use of methyl iodide now or at any time.“[W]e are concerned that pregnant women and the fetus, children, the elderly, farm workers, and other people living near application sites would be at serious risk if methyl iodide is permitted for use in agriculture,” said the group in the letter. In the chemical community methyl iodide is a well-known cancer hazard due to its ability to mutate DNA, and the scientists are fearful that methyl iodide’s high volatility and water solubility will expose many people to harm if the chemical is used in agriculture. Methyl iodide and methyl bromide are injected into the soil at rates of 100-400 pounds per acre to kill soil-borne pests. Because of the high application rates and gaseous nature of these chemicals, they drift […]

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