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U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Rollback Waterway Protections

Friday, May 26th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2017) On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would reverse an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirement to obtain a permit before spraying pesticides on or near waterways. The passage of HR 953, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (known by environmentalists as the “Poison Our Waters Act”), is the latest update in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback commonsense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. It will now move forward to be considered by the Republican-majority Senate, where it will most likely pass and be signed into law. HR 953, if signed into law, would reverse a 2009 decision issued by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case of National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA, which held that pesticides applied to waterways should be considered pollutants under federal law and regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA), through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Prior to the decision, the EPA, under the Bush Administration, had allowed the weaker and more generalized standards under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to be followed. This allowed pesticides to be discharged […]

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Take Action: Bill Will Eliminate Permit Requirement to Spray Pesticides into Waterways

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2016) The Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last week that will eliminate protections from toxic pesticides for the nation’s waterways. The bill now moves on to the full House for a vote and the public has an opportunity to let Representatives hear the concerns about weakening local protection of waterways from toxic pesticides. HR 953, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (code for the sponsors and supporters as legislation to eliminate environmental protection of water quality), is the committee’s latest effort in a multi-year string of attempts to rollback common sense protections for the public waterways all Americans use for swimming, fishing, and other forms of recreation. The bill would repeal the Clean Water Act requirement that those who apply pesticides to waterways, with an exemption for farm use pesticides not directly deposited into waterways, obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Last May, at the height of fears over the Zika epidemic, the same Committee ushered through the same bill under another misleading name, The Zika Vector Control Act. Pensive lawmakers and the public saw through the ruse, and the bill was defeated. But, like previous iterations, including the 2015 Sensible Environmental […]

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Congress Cites Zika Virus in Effort to Attack Water Protections

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2016) Using fear without facts, Congress is yet again attempting to gut Clean Water Act (CWA) provisions that protect waterways and communities from excessive pesticide pollution. In a move that was blasted by House Democrats this week, HR 897  (which was introduced as the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2015) was renamed the  Zika Vector Control Act, despite the fact that the bill does not actually do anything to address the threat of Zika. The legislation was defeated Tuesday on a suspension vote, 262-159, however the bill will be going to the Rules Committee on Monday, with anticipated House floor activity on Tuesday, May 24. (Take action: urge your representative to oppose HR 897.) “In a brazenly political act, the Republican leadership is trying to mask gutting the Clean Water Act as having something to do with fighting Zika,” Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), said in a statement to The Hill. “This bill has nothing to do with Zika and everything to do with Republicans’ relentless special interest attacks on the Clean Water Act,” he said. “It will do nothing to stem the growing threat of the Zika virus.” The bill […]

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Congress Continues Attacks on Clean Water Act Protections

Friday, June 5th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, June 05, 2015) A new federal bill was introduced Wednesday that, if passed, would undermine the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to issue Clean Water Act permits for pesticide spraying over waterways. Titled the Sensible Environmental Protection Act  and introduced by Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), this new bill would reverse a 2009 federal court decision in National Cotton Council v. EPA that directed EPA to require permits from applicators who spray over “navigable waters,” as outlined in the Clean Water Act (CWA). The bill’s authors claim that the need for water permits is duplicative, given that pesticide applicators also comply with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the law that requires applicators to follow instructions on pesticide labels. “This issue is a prime example of an unnecessary, duplicative federal regulation impacting a variety of stakeholders in Idaho and across the nation that must be fixed,” Senator Crapo said in a statement.  “Our rural communities are already under a substantial amount of financial strain and regulatory pressure and are looking to Congress for much-needed relief.” Contrary to  Senator  Crapo’s claims, the  CWA permit serves as a valuable tool that lets authorities know […]

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Toxic Imidacloprid To Be Sprayed on Oyster Beds in Washington Bays

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2015) Much to the dismay of activists and concerned local residents, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) approved a permit for the use of imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid) to combat a growing native population of burrowing shrimp that threatens valuable shellfish (oyster) beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor in Washington state. Imidacloprid is known to be toxic to bees but is also toxic to aquatic organisms, raising questions on the impacts of its use on the long-term ecological health of the bays. The shellfish industry is important to the Pacific Northwest, injecting an estimated $270 million or more into the region’s economy, and providing jobs for many. Washington’s tidelands, especially those in Willapa Bay, have been particularly productive for more than 100 years. However, according to shellfish growers, the burrowing shrimp (ghost shrimp, Neotrypaea californiensis,  and mud shrimp, Upogebia pugettensis) undermines the industry. The creatures burrow into shellfish beds, making the beds too soft for shellfish cultivation. Their burrowing churns the tidelands into a sticky muck, smothering the oysters. After several years of deliberations and studies, Ecology identified imidacloprid as its  preferred choice for eradicating the shrimp. According to the agency, imidacloprid disrupts the burrowing shrimps’ […]

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Yet Again, Congress Attacks Clean Water Act Protections

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2015) Last week, to the dismay of health and environmental advocates, the House Agriculture Committee unanimously passed the latest version of the inaccurately titled “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2015” (H.R. 897), which would nullify regulations that require pesticide applicators to apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA) before applying pesticides on or near surface waters. The legislation also amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by stating that no permit shall be required for the use of a pesticide that is registered under FIFRA. Generally, it means that pesticide applicators can discharge pesticides into waterways with no EPA oversight under the the standards of the CWA and the permitting process, which takes into account local conditions that are not addressed under FIFRA. The  CWA permit lets authorities know what is sprayed and when it is sprayed, so that the public may know what chemicals are used in their waterways and the potential dangers to sensitive aquatic ecosystems. Existing pesticide regulations under FIFRA do not achieve these protections and, contrary to the assertions made by supporters of the bill, most agricultural pesticide applications are exempt from […]

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House Votes to Roll Back Protections from Pesticides Put in Nation’s Waters

Monday, August 4th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2014) The Clean Water Act (CWA) provides critical safeguards for our nation’s waterways, with the goal of fishable and swimmable waters for all residents of the United States. Last Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to strip away an important part of these protections concerning pesticides applied directly to U.S. waters. The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2013 (HR 935) would reverse a 2009 ruling in National Cotton Council v. EPA that requires CWA permits for pesticide users who spray over waterways. After failing in a vote under a suspension of the rules last Monday, the House took the bill back up and passed it 267-161. “This is a good bill that reduces burdensome regulations without rolling back any environmental safeguards,” said U.S. Representative Bob Gibbs (R-OH), the bill’s sponsor, to The Hill. Unfortunately, Rep. Gibb’s statement couldn’t be farther from the truth. Under the deceptive title of “Reducing Regulatory Burdens,” this bill would instead eliminate critical CWA protections. “This legislation will undermine one of our nation’s most successful environmental laws, the Clean Water Act, in limiting the potential contamination of our nation’s waters by pesticides. All this would do is make it harder to locate […]

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Report Finds Pesticide Residues in Hawaii’s Waterways

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2014) A statewide pilot pesticide sampling project has found over 20 different types of pesticides in Hawaiian waterways, some of which are no longer registered for use in Hawaii. State officials believe the pesticides, many detected in urban areas, are from residential and golf course applications. These preliminary findings help highlight the need for local oversight of pesticide use, currently a controversial issue in the state. Conducted in partnership with the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Hawaiian Department of Health, the survey-study finds herbicides like glyphosate (Roundup) and atrazine, as well as a fungicide that is no longer registered for use in the state, contaminating the state’s waterways. The study measured pesticides in surface waters and in sediment at multiple locations in Hawaii. 25 herbicides, 11 insecticides and 6 fungicides were detected, with atrazine the most commonly found. This pilot survey responds to growing community concerns about the impacts of pesticides on local communities and ecosystems, and provides preliminary information on pesticide residues in state waterways. Recently, Kauai County passed an ordinance —Ordinance 960—  that requires public disclosure of pesticides used and the location of genetically engineered (GE) crops, as […]

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Unregulated Contaminants Found Widespread in U.S. Drinking Water

Friday, December 13th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2013) A recent survey conducted by researchers at the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found traces of 18 unregulated chemicals in drinking water from more than one third of U.S. water utilities. Of the 21 total chemicals found, researchers discovered among them 11 perfluorinated chemicals, an herbicide, two solvents, caffeine, an antibacterial chemical, a metal and an antidepressant. Preliminary findings were presented by scientists at an annual toxicology conference held by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry last month in Nashville. Federal researchers took samples from 25 U.S. utilities from around the nation who voluntarily participated in the study, providing samples of treated and untreated water. Disturbingly, 18 of the chemicals found are not regulated under the Safe Water Drinking Act, meaning utility companies are not required to treat, limit, or even monitor for their presence. “The good news is the concentrations are generally pretty low,” said USGS research hydrologist Dana Kolpin, PhD. to Environmental Health News. “But,” he continued “there’s still the unknown. Are there long-term consequences of low-level exposure to these chemicals?” While there is a paucity of data on some of the contaminants, regulated chemicals such […]

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House Farm Bill Provision Would Make Eating Fish More Dangerous

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2013) It’s farm bill debate time””again. And as conferee members saddle up to the negotiation table to attempt yet another meeting of the minds before the winter recess, most of the public watching and waiting for word on a resolution are focused on issues like food stamps and milk. What most are not waiting for and has not been at the forefront of the media and public discussion concerning the pending farm bill negotiations are the small but dangerous provisions of the House bill concerning the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (expanded and overhauled  as the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate pesticides used near, over, and in water. It should be. Seeking to nullify the Sixth Circuit’s ruling in National Cotton Council v. EPA and the resulting general permit, sections 12323 and 100013 amend CWA to exclude pesticides from the law’s standards and its permitting requirements. Known as the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), CWA requires all point sources, which are discernible and discreet conveyances, to obtain either individual or general permits. Whether a point source must obtain an individual or general permit depends […]

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It’s Back! Provision that Undermines Clean Water Act Resurfaces in Congress

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2013) Once again, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is urging Farm Bill conference committee members to accept a provision that would eliminate what they call a redundant permitting requirement for pesticide users. H.R. 935: Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2013 is similar to a previous piece of legislation that was passed in the U.S.  House of Representatives  in 2011 to eliminate the requirement that pesticide applicators obtain Clean Water Act (CWA) permits (known as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination  System (NPDES) permit)  for applications where pesticides could be discharged into water. A  bipartisan group of  Senators hope to use the Farm Bill to eliminate permitting requirement, continuing to believe the myth that permits burden farmers and applicators. The Senate and House are now in a conference committee to work out the details of a new Farm Bill to reauthorize the current law. A dozen Senators, led by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., have asked House and Senate negotiators to do away with the CWA regulation of pesticide discharges as they consider a compromise Farm Bill. Legislation eliminating the CWA permitting requirement last year passed the House, but the move to strip the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) […]

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Third Time in Three Years – Pesticides Believed to be Cause of Fish Kills in Canada

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, July 31, 2013) Environmental officials are investigating why dozens of dead fish are washing up on the banks of two rivers in western Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.), Canada. For the third time in three years, dead fish have been spotted rising to the surface of Barclay Brook where thousands of fish died in 2011 and 2012 after pesticides from farmers’ fields ran off into the water.   Almost exactly one year ago, when more than 2,000 dead fish were scooped from the near two-mile stretch of Barclay Brook, dead fish again began washing up on the banks of the same river in western P.E.I. following heavy rains last Friday. About a dozen were found the day of the rains, but officials and volunteers with the local watershed group have since found more than 100. The nearby Mill River also experienced a fish kill, with the first dead fish reported being washed up on Monday. P.E.I. Department of Environment and Environment Canada officials are investigating the fish kills. Government spokesman Wayne MacKinnon says pesticide run-off could be the cause of the latest fish kill, but water samples collected on the weekend have yet to be tested. Dale Cameron, a […]

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Federal Report Finds Stream Health Severely Degraded

Friday, July 19th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2013) A recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) examines the health of the nation’s streams over 20 years and finds that streams nationwide are severely degraded by humans, exhibiting elevated levels of pesticides and nutrients as well as streamflow modifications. Overall, the report finds that 83 percent of streams in agricultural and urban areas contain at least one aquatic community that was altered, or in other words, negatively affected. With waterways in the U.S. increasingly imperiled from various agents including agricultural and industrial discharges, nutrient loading (nitrogen and phosphorus), and biological agents such as pathogens, assessments such as these provide further impetus to protect water quality for both human health and the environment. The report, entitled “Quality of Our Nation’s Waters: Ecological Health in the Nation’s Streams, 1993-2005,” describes the health of three biological communities ””algae, macroinvertebrates, and fish”” to  measure the overall quality of streams. A stream’s ability to support these community structures can directly measure the health of waterways. The report assesses streamflow modifications and measures over 100 chemical constituents in water and streambed sediments. The report is a comprehensive assessment of the variety of factors that contribute to stream health declines, […]

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USGS Documents Threat of Pesticides to Waterways; Farm Bill Amendment Undermines Clean Water Act

Monday, May 20th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2013) The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a national assessment that shows the distribution and trends of pesticide use from 1992-2009, providing visible evidence that contamination of pesticides in our nation’s water is clearly a continuing threat. Meanwhile, U.S. Senators are gearing up to put their version of the Farm   Bill on the table that would eliminate common sense protections from pesticide applications into our nation’s waterways. These highly controversial  amendments would undermine the Clean Water Act and put our health and the environment at risk. Tell your Senators to oppose any efforts to undermine the Clean Water Act. The USGS maps provide, for the first time, a visible depiction of the agricultural use of 459 pesticides for each year during 1992-2009. Maps were created by allocating county-level use estimates to agricultural land within each county. A graph accompanies each map, which shows annual national use by major crop for the mapped pesticide for each year during the period. These pesticide use estimates are suitable for evaluating national and regional patterns and trends of annual pesticide use. To see the maps, go to USGS’s Pesticide National Synthesis Project Page and click on a pesticide. The […]

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Take Action: Senators Work with Industry on Yet Another Bill to Strip Water Protections

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2013) Last week, U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, (D-NC), and Larry Wooten, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau, announced new legislation that will be introduced to eliminate Clean Water Act permits required for certain applications of pesticides on or near waterways. The bill to be introduced by Sens. Hagan and Mike Crapo (R-ID) is called “The Sensible Environmental Protection Act (SEPA).” This is the latest in a string of attacks lobbied by industry to remove Clean Water Act protections for streams receiving pesticide discharges. Take Action: Urge your Senators Not to Support This Bill The bill, The Sensible Environmental Protection Act (S-EPA), announced last Monday by Senators Hagan and Crapo is said to be a bipartisan effort to remove so-called “redundant, unnecessary and costly regulation” on farmers and local governments.  According to Senator Hagan, the Clean Water Act does not provide any additional health benefits.  S-EPA, not to be confused with the School Environment Protection Act  (a real effort to protect children from pesticides),  will clarify that Clean Water Act permits are not required for pesticide applications in or near water. The bill also asks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to report back to Congress […]

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EPA Upholds Clean Water Act, Steps in to Add Impaired Streams to State List

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stepped in this week to revise a biennial report on impaired rivers and streams across West Virginia, after state officials, under pressure from industry interests, left more than 1,000 miles of polluted waterways off the list. EPA officials stated that the Clean Water Act does not allow the state to ignore evidence that streams are troubled. Water standards and plans for cleanup must be adopted for impaired waterways. EPA reprimanded West Virginia from shirking its responsibilities under the law to list all of the state’s impaired streams, in spite of industry interference. EPA Region  3 officials are now proposing to add an additional 255 waterway segments where aquatic life is impaired to the state’s 303(d) list, named for the section of the Clean Water Act that requires it be prepared. Section 303(d) requires a listing of impaired streams in the state, and the list is used for water standard development for subsequent cleanup plans and restoration of the impaired waterways. States are required to publish such lists every two years. West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) submitted The West Virginia Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report   […]

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New Legislation and Sequestration Will Limit Pesticide Oversight

Monday, March 11th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2013) Recent sequester cuts and new proposed Congressional legislation could dramatically affect the safety of American waterways. According to a February 25 email, the White House Council on Environmental Quality estimates that the recent sequester could reduce federal funding for state environmental programs by $154 million. These cuts, which kicked in March 1, impact all states, with California losing the most funding totaling $12.4 million. The email also contains estimates that grants to federal fish and wildlife programs would be cut by $46.2 million. As these cuts begin to take effect, U.S. Representative Bob Gibbs (R-OH) introduced the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2013 (H.R. 935) on March 4. This bill, which is similar to a piece of legislation that was passed in the house in 2011, will eliminate the requirement for pesticide applicators to file Clean Water Act (CWA) permits for applications where pesticides could be discharged into water. The recent sequester has led to losses in “environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste,” according to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The cuts that could most affect states’ ability to enforce […]

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Fed Legislation Would Weaken Pesticide Rules to Protect Water

Monday, February 4th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2013) U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) re-introduced legislation that would reduce the review requirements for pesticides applied directly to water. Similar legislation was passed in the House of Representatives in March 2011. The previous Senate version of the bill, called the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, passed through the Senate Agriculture Committee but never reached the Senate floor because of a hold placed on the legislation by Senators Barbra Boxer (D-CA) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD). This re-introduced legislation would reduce pesticide testing by ensuring that Clean Water Act (CWA) permits are not required for the application of pesticides. In 2009, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of the National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA that pesticides discharged into water are pollutants and required to be permitted under the CWA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). This ruling overturned Bush administration policy that exempted pesticides from regulation under the CWA and applied the less protective standards of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). CWA uses a health-based standard known as maximum contamination levels (MCLs) to protect waterways and requires permits when chemicals are directly […]

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Pesticides Blamed for Fish Kill on Canadian Coast

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2012) Hundreds of dead fish have been found in Prince Edward Island, Canada, the second in two years, prompting concerns about the use of pesticides in the province’s agriculture industry, and the effectiveness of mitigation measures to reduce pesticide runoff. It is believed that pesticide runoff from nearby agricultural fields after heavy rains are to blame for the massive fish kill. More than 2,000 fish have been scooped from the near two-mile stretch of Barclay Brook in Coleman since last Thursday following heavy rainfall, more than triple the amount of fish that washed up on the same shores of the brook last year, although the current discovery is concentrated in a smaller area. It is believed the actual number of dead fish is much higher, as predators and river currents would have quickly taken away the remains of other fish. Barclay Brook is part of the Trout River watershed, the scene of a devastating fish kill last July that mainly wiped out large fish. An investigation is underway to determine the exact cause of the fish kill, given that water temperature and oxygen levels were within acceptable ranges and the fish looked healthy and well-fed. As […]

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Take Action! New Farm Bill Amendments Attack Your Health and Environment

Monday, June 18th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, June 18, 2012) Once again, attempts to repeal the Clean Water Act permits for pesticide discharges are underway in Congress. This week the 2012 Farm Bill will be introduced to the Senate floor where measures to attack environmental laws have been added unceremoniously to the bill, including the controversial H.R. 872, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which seeks to undermine federal authority to monitor our nation’s waterways for pesticide contamination, as well as eroding already lax federal oversight of genetically engineered crops. Congress is working on the monumental process of altering and renewing the Farm Bill, S. 3240. This process only comes along every five years and has major impacts on how we grow our food. The last Farm Bill was passed in 2008, and expires in 2012. The bill is expected to be introduced on Senate floor on Tuesday, June 19. North Carolina Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo have introduced an amendment (amendment 2367, full text available in the Congressional Record) to the Farm Bill that states pesticides should be allowed into water bodies without any oversight, leaving the public to swim, fish and boat on waters that are contaminated with endocrine disruptors, […]

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Hawaii’s Oversight of Pesticides Permits Scrutinized for Undue Industry Influence

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, June 7, 2012) As Hawaii officials finalize new rules for the regulation of pesticide discharge into waterways due to the federal court ruling requiring permits for pesticide discharges, critics say the state’s draft rules are not strict enough and that stakeholders, such as the farming lobby, may have had undue influence in crafting the new permitting requirements. Now that federal rules have been finalized to require National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits under the Clean Water Act for pesticide discharges near waterways, as a result of a 2009 federal court order instructing EPA to require permits for pesticide discharges (see Daily News coverage), many states are rolling out their own rules to regulate these discharges. In Hawaii, a meeting called by state officials on Monday to hear public input was largely a battle between pro-pesticide interests, including Alexander & Baldwin, which sprays pesticides in irrigation ditches to control weeds, and state land officials, who use chemicals to kill invasive species, as well as Monsanto, that pushed to ease the rules, and environmental groups seeking to make them more stringent. Dean Okimoto, head of the Hawaii Farm Bureau, said that the rules would increase costs for farmers […]

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Report Puts Potomac River as “Most Endangered,” Highlights Why Clean Water Protections Critical

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2012) With Congress considering drastic cuts to national clean water protections, and rivers nationwide facing threats from natural gas drilling, chemical pollution, and new dams, American Rivers yesterday released its annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. ® It names the Potomac River, known as ”˜the nation’s river’ as it flows through the capital, the most endangered in the country. While the Potomac is cleaner than it used to be, the river is still threatened by urban and agricultural pollution —and it could get much worse if Congress rolls back critical clean water safeguards. As the country commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year, the Potomac is emblematic of what is at stake for rivers nationwide. American Rivers launched a national call to action, giving citizens the opportunity to contact members of Congress and speak up for clean water. The report, “America’s Most Endangered Rivers,” notes that urban development is funneling tons of polluted rainwater to the river, that chemical fertilizer and manure from farms make matters worse, and that wastewater overflowing from sewers, along with pharmaceuticals flushed down toilets, contribute to dead zones in which marine life dies and might cause […]

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EPA Publishes Human Health Benchmarks for Pesticides in Water

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2012) In the face of widespread pesticide contamination of U.S. waterways and the lack of drinking water standards for hundreds of pesticides, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced new health and environmental benchmarks for acute pesticide effects, postponing action on chronic effects to an unspecified future date. While a step forward in identifying hazards associated with pesticide use and exposure, benchmarks have been notoriously limited in fully assessing risks because of ongoing deficiencies in analyzing the complexities associated with chemical exposure, specifically a failure to evaluate the effects of chemical mixtures, synergistic effects, and health effects associated with consistent low-dose exposure. EPA notes in a newly released April 2012 factsheet, “Human Health Benchmarks for Pesticides,” that, “EPA has developed a table of human health benchmarks for approximately 350 pesticides that are currently registered for use on food crops. The benchmarks are for pesticides for which the agency has not previously issued a drinking water health advisory or set an enforceable federal drinking water standard. These benchmarks for pesticides will enable states, water systems and the public to better determine whether the detection of a pesticide in drinking water or source waters for drinking water […]

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