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Commonly Used Pyrethroid Pesticide Increases Risk of ADHD

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2015) A study led by a Rutgers University research team finds that the commonly used pesticide deltamethrin increases the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, adding to a mounting body of scientific research linking pesticide exposure to the disorder. Rutgers scientists, along with colleagues from Emory University, the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Wake Forest University discovered that mice exposed to the pyrethroid insecticide deltamethrin in utero and through lactation exhibit several features of ADHD, including dysfunctional dopamine signaling in the brain, hyperactivity, working memory, attention deficits and impulsive-like behavior. The study, Developmental pesticide exposure reproduces features of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was published Wednesday in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). ADHD is estimated to affect 8—12% of school-age children worldwide. ADHD is a complex disorder, and though is strong scientific evidence that genetics play a role in susceptibility to the disorder, no specific gene has been found that causes ADHD and scientists believe that environmental factors, such as pesticide exposure, may contribute to the development of the behavioral condition. “Although we can’t change genetic susceptibility to ADHD, there may be modifiable environmental factors, including […]

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EPA Responds to Call for Chlorpyrifos Ban with New Risk Calculations and Continued Use

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2015) On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a revised human health assessment for the insecticide, chlorpyrifos, which finds risks to workers who mix, load and apply chlorpyrifos, and that the chemical has the potential to pose risks to drinking water in small watersheds. The assessment also notes that EPA will retain the 10X (10-fold) safety factor to protect children from all routes of exposures. EPA’s latest finding confirms long-standing scientific data that  has documented chlorpyrifos’ toxicity to humans and environmental contamination. However, despite these findings, EPA proposes to place additional restrictions on chlorpyrifos’ use, instead of a widespread ban. This latest assessment updates the June 2011 preliminary human health risk assessment, which was widely criticized by environmental and farmworker groups. EPA is releasing this assessment based on new information received since 2011, including public comments. The assessment is, in part, in response to a petition submitted by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) in 2007, which called on the agency to ban all uses of the insecticide. In 2000, EPA orchestrated a voluntary cancellation with the manufacturer Dow AgroSciences of  most residential uses of chlorpyrifos to limit children’s exposure, […]

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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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California To Limit Chlorpyrifos’ Food Production Use, Environmentalists Sue EPA

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, October 2, 2014) California state pesticide regulators are looking to curtail the use of chlorpyrifos, one of the most widely used insecticides on the market, due to concerns that it poses a threat to human health and the environment. At the same time, environmental groups are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of the agency’s continued refusal to fully address a 2007 petition by the groups calling for a ban on the neurotoxic chemical. EPA in 2000 orchestrated a voluntary cancellation by DowAgroSciences of  most residential uses of chlorpyrifos (although uses with major exposure routes continue),  while virtually all agricultural uses remain in use, except tomatoes. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), a branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency that regulates the sale and use of pesticides, announced last week that it is  proposing to make  ‘restrictive use’  all pesticide products containing the organophosphate  insecticide chlorpyrifos.  If the proposed regulation passes, this would mean that only trained and licensed professionals who have a permit from a local county agricultural commissioner (CAC) would be able to use these products. The CAC would also have the ability to place additional conditions on use via the permit. […]

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Report Finds Banned, Illegal Pesticides in Popular Indian Tea Brands

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2014) Pesticides are not the first thing to pop into mind when peering into a hot mug of steaming, pale green or murky black tea first thing in the morning. A recent report published by Greenpeace India announced the results of an investigation that tested for pesticide residues in branded tea. The verdict? Nearly 94% of the tea samples tested contained at least one of 34 different pesticides, while over half contained a toxic cocktail of more than 10 different pesticides. The residues found include DDT, which was banned for use in agriculture in India since 1989, and endosulfan, which was banned in 2011 by the Indian Supreme Court. Over half of the 49 samples contained illegal pesticides — either those that are not approved for use in tea cultivation or exceeded recommended limits. These pesticides include ones that have been long banned from agriculture and use in tea cultivation (DDT and triazophos), suspected mutagens and neurotoxicants (monocrotophos), and insecticides associated with the global decline in bee populations (neonicotinoids like thiacloprid and thiamethoxam). The most frequently detected pesticides include thiamethoxam (78%), cypermethrin (73%), acetamiprid (67%), thiacloprid (67%), DDT (67%), deltamethrin (67%), dicofol (61%), imidacloprid (61%), and […]

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Few Doctors Educate Pregnant Women on Dangers of Environmental Toxins

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2014) According to a new study, few obstetricians offer their pregnant  patients advice on how to avoid environmental toxins that might harm their babies, even though doctors recognize that exposure to chemicals like pesticides, bisphenol-A (BPA), and metals can affect  a pregnancy. The study recommends that the medical community improve medical education and training, develop recommendations for prevention and less toxic alternatives, as well as lend support to policy change. The first of its kind study of prenatal counselling, published in the journal  PLOS ONE, Counseling Patients on Preventing Prenatal Environmental Exposures – A Mixed-Methods Study of Obstetricians, found that U.S. obstetricians and gynaecologists feel they lack the medical education and training, and evidence-based guidelines and tools for communicating potential environmental risks to patients. Exposure to environmental toxins, the researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found, is rarely discussed with pregnant patients, even though a national survey shows that 80 percent of physicians agree they should play a part in reducing patients’ exposure to toxins. But, of the 2,500 respondents, only one in five routinely asked  their  patients about these exposures, and just one in 15 said they received training on the harmful […]

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Close Proximity to Pesticide-Treated Fields Increases Risk of Autism

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2014) Research from the University of California, Davis CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment) study finds that pregnant women who lived within a mile of agricultural fields treated with insecticides are more likely to have their child develop autism. The results of the CHARGE study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, strengthens calls from public health and environmental groups urging regulators take a precautionary approach to agricultural chemicals and institute increased protections for those who live, work, or go to school near pesticide-treated fields. The CHARGE study looked at pregnant women’s addresses to determine their location relative to fields treated with pesticides. For women who lived less than one mile from crops sprayed with organophosphate insecticides during their pregnancy, researchers found the likelihood of their child being diagnosed with autism increased 60%. Women in the second trimester living near fields treated with chlorpyrifos, a widely used organophosphate insecticide banned for household use in 2001, are 3.3 times more likely to have their children diagnosed with autism. In response to a legal petition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012 instituted risk mitigation measures for chlorpyrifos, including reduced application rates and no-spray buffer zones […]

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Scientist Warns of Ecological Effects Associated with Lawn Care Pesticide Runoff

Monday, June 9th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2014) A recent talk given by Donald Weston, PhD, a professor emeritus in UC Berkeley’s Department of Integrative Biology, to a community group in San Jose, California warned residents about the dangers that  lawn care insecticides present to  local aquatic life. The talk focused on the problems synthetic pyrethroids and fipronil can have on Hyalella azteca and Chironomus dilutes. Increasing levels of pesticide runoff in local stream systems have not only led to decreased populations of these aquatic crustaceans, but also populations that have become resistant to pesticides. Aquatic invertebrates are extremely sensitive to pesticide runoff and different states around the country have struggled with creating pesticide regulations that foster a healthy aquatic ecosystem. A good way to reduce pesticide runoff is to transition away from toxic land care methods and adopt organic practices. Hyalella crustaceans, a tiny shrimp-like animal, are hypersensitive to pyrethroids, which are a class of insecticides used by professional lawn care companies and found in common products like Raid and mixed with fertilizer products like Scotts Turf Builder under the name SummerGuard. Chironomus dilutes, a red worm-like invertebrate, is sensitive to fipronil, which is used to kill fleas on dogs and cats […]

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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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Review Links Glyphosate to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2014) A recent review, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, examines the interaction between widely used agricultural herbicides, like glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup products, and the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The study represents one of the most comprehensive reviews on the topic of occupational exposure to pesticides in scientific literature, demonstrating their clear harm to human health. The study, “Non Hodgkin lymphoma and occupational exposure to agricultural pesticide chemical groups and active ingredients: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” reviews almost thirty years of epidemiological research, examining occupational exposure of farmers to 80 active ingredients, and 21 chemicals groups to clarify their role in the development of NHL. Analyzing 44 papers, the study opens its discussion by mentioning the ”˜striking increase’ in incidents of NHL over the past 30 years. The study attempts to reconcile apparent trends of low mortality but high incidents of cancer among farm workers, pointing out that exposure to agricultural pesticides are often associated with signficint sub-lethal impacts. Researchers Maria Leon Roux, PhD., and Leah Schinasi, PhD. at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in the Environment and Radiation section, said that the […]

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Organic Food Consumption Leads to Dramatically Lower Pesticide Exposure

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2014) A recent study, Reduction in urinary organophosphate pesticide metabolites in adults after a week-long organic diet, led by Liza Oates found lower trances of organophosphate metabolites in consumers that ate organic food for a week compared to those who ate a conventional diet. The study  adds to the scientific literature that shows consuming organic food minimize consumers’ exposure to pesticides residue. Because organic agriculture is a healthier system for consumers it is important we protect strict organic standards. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Research, found that participants who ate a diet that was at least 80 percent organic had 89 percent lower levels of dialkylphosphates (DAPs), non-selective organophosphate metabolites, in their urine. The study was conducted in Melbourne, Australia with non-smoking participates between the age of 18 and 65. Participants were asked to eat a diet of conventional food for a week than on the morning of day eight participants provided a urine sample to the researchers. This process was repeated with the same participants after they spent a week eating at least 80 percent organic food. The levels of DAPs found in participants during the week in which they ate conventional […]

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Pesticides Linked to 30% Decline in French Men’s Sperm Count

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2014) Part deux of a 2012 study finding that sperm counts in French men had decreased 30% over the past 16 years came to a second startling conclusion in a 2014 analysis: the cause for those dramatic decreases may be pesticides. 2012 Sperm-Count Study Published in the scientific journal Human Reproduction, the landmark 2012 study showed an alarming 30 percent decrease in sperm counts across France between 1989 and 2005. Because the data for the 2012 study were drawn from Fivnat ””a French assisted reproduction technology database”” researches made sure to limit analysis to 26,600 sperm samples from otherwise virile 35-year-old men whose partners’ fallopian tubes were either blocked or missing. This control was added to ensure that the each couple’s infertility was due to these latter problems and not a problem with the man’s sperm. Broken down, the 2012 studies identified a 1.9 percent continued annual dip in sperm concentration and also found that there was a significant 33.4% decrease in the percentage of normally formed sperm over the entire 16-year period. At the time of release, the 2012 study’s authors wrote: “To our knowledge, it is the first study concluding a severe and general […]

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Pesticide Blamed for Deaths of Hundreds of Wild Birds

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2014) As many as 700 birds have been found dead in a wildlife reserve in New South Wales, Australia. Preliminary tests reveal that the pesticide, fenthion, was the cause of death for many little correlas, galahs and sulphur-crested cockatoos found over the past two weeks. Certain uses of fenthion for home gardens and a range of agricultural uses were scheduled for suspension by the Australian Government, but a few months ago fenthion use, long associated with bird kills, was extended for another year. For the past two weeks, dead birds have been found all along a mile of Troy Reserve on the Talbragar River, in New South Wales, Australia. Testing of samples from the dead birds indicated fenthion, an organophosphate insecticide highly toxic to birds, as the most likely cause of the deaths. Volunteers helped gather the carcasses to prevent raptors, such as whistling kites and tawny frogmouths, from feeding on the poisoned carrion. About 30 sick birds, including two kites, have been so far been rescued. Locals found the first deaths on February 27 but were initially prevented from collecting the carcasses out of concern about possible bird flu. About 200 dead birds were found […]

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Scientists Determine 99.6% of Lice Resistant to Chemical Treatment

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2014)  Virtually all lice in the U.S. have developed resistance to over-the-counter and prescription shampoos containing the toxic chemical permethrin. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs  considers permethrin, part of the synthetic pyrethroid class of chemicals, “likely to be carcinogenic.” However, when used as a lice shampoo the chemical is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and allowed for use on infants over two months old. The latest study on lice resistance, published in the Journal of the Entomological Society of America, shows that harsh chemical treatments not only are not necessary given effective least-toxic alternatives, but also are not able to provide the lice control that manufacturers claim. “In the UK and Europe, they don’t even use pyrethroids anymore. Virtually everyone but the United States and Canada has given up using these over-the-counter products,” said Dr. John Clark, PhD, a professor of environmental toxicology and chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and co-author of the new study. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press,  Eric Ayers, MD of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan noted that lice that are not killed by the chemical treatment not only survive, but become […]

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EPA Proposes Updated Farmworker Protection Standards to Mixed Reviews

Monday, February 24th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week released its long-awaited proposal to update Farm Worker Protection Standards (WPS),  which are designed to provide protections from pesticide exposure for more than two million farmworkers and their families across the nation.   Historically, farmworker advocates have criticized these protections as woefully inadequate in protecting the health of agricultural workers, but these new revisions attempt to strengthen the standards through increased training for workers handling pesticides, improved notification of pesticide applications, and a higher  minimum age requirement for children to work around pesticides. Farmworkers face disproportionate risks to pesticide exposures, with EPA stating that pesticide exposure incidents are vastly under-reported —in some case by as much as 90 percent. Although these proposed changes are a step in the right direction, there are still ongoing concerns about whether the changes will be adequate to protect workers. Revisions to the 20 year old standard have been under discussion for many years. In 2010, EPA released a document proposing WPS that would determine ways to increase training, improve safety requirements, provide clear emergency information, and create strong protection for applicators. However, EPA documents distributed during a November 2012 Pesticide Program […]

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Children Exposed to Increasing Concentrations of Pyrethroid Insecticides

Monday, February 10th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, February 10, 2014)    A recent study has found that exposure to pyrethroids is increasing among children and adults. The study also finds that children are still widely exposure to chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate chemical that has been banned for household use for over 12 years. This is not the first study to find high concentrations of pyrethroids in residential, but it may be the first to evaluate correlations between pesticide dust concentration and concentration of pesticides in children’s urine. The study, Urinary Pyrethroid and Chlorpyrifos Metabolite Concentrations in Northern California Families and Their Relationship to Indoor Residential Insecticide Levels,  conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis, analyzed urine samples from 90 adults, 83 children, and 88 floor wipe samples from participants’ kitchen floors. The participants were 90 northern Californian families who had children born between 2000 and 2005, with the samples collected from 2007-2009.   These samples were analyzed for concentrations of pyrethroids, pyrethroid metabolites, chlorpyrifos, and chlorpyrifos metabolites.  The study found pyrethroid metabolites in 63 percent of all urine samples with concentrations twice as high as levels reported in a national 2001-2002 study. In children, higher concentrations of pyrethroids found in floor wipes were associated […]

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Behavioral and Emotional Problems in Children Linked to Insecticide Exposure

Friday, November 1st, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2013) Insecticides commonly used in homes and schools are associated with behavioral problems in children, according to a recent study by Canadian researchers. The study investigates exposure to pyrethroid pesticides, used in more than 3,500 products, including flea and tick controls, cockroach sprays, and head lice controls. The study, Urinary metabolites of organophosphates and pyrethroid pesticides and behavioral problems in Canadian children, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, raises serious concerns about the impact of pyrethroids, which are increasingly used as a replacement for organophosphates. This study uses data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (2007-2009), a nationally representative survey, so researchers are able to apply these findings to the entire population of Canadian children. In a previous study among U.S. children, researchers at the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) examined the metabolites of pyrethroids in children below the age of six. Similarly, they found pyrethroid insecticides in more than 70 percent of the samples, concluding that children had significantly higher metabolite concentrations than those of adolescents. Together these studies demonstrate that exposure is widespread, with real impacts to human health. In the recent study, researchers analyzed organophosphate and pyrethroid metabolites in the […]

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New Study Links Neonicotinoids to Bee Virus

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2013) A team of scientists in Italy believe they have found the molecular mechanism through which neonicotinoid pesticides adversely impacts the immune system of honey bees. The team’s experiments suggest that exposure to neonicotinoids results in increased levels of a particular protein in bees that inhibits a key molecule involved in the immune response, making the insects more susceptible to attack by harmful viruses. Though previous studies have indicated that exposure to minute amount of neurotoxic pesticides like neonicotinoids severely impair the immune systems of bees, making them more susceptible to pathogens, the underlying mechanism has was not yet been fully  understood. The study, Neonicotinoid clothianidin adversely affects insect immunity and promotes replication of a viral pathogen in honey bees, is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). This work is the latest of several studies to add weight to the urgency of repeated calls from U.S. beekeeper and environmental groups for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to  suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, as the European Commission recently decided this past April. Neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that includes clothianidin and imidicloprid, are taken up […]

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Elevated Pesticide Exposure Documented in New York City Residents

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2013) According to new research, residents are more highly exposed to organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides in New York City (NYC) than in the U.S. overall.  Researchers from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reviewed the 2004 NYC Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NYC HANES) to compare its pesticide exposure patterns in an urban environment with the nation as a whole. The NYC HANES includes a biomonitoring component to evaluate pesticide exposures by measuring concentrations of organophosphate and pyrethroid metabolites in urine. According to the authors, the findings underscore the importance of considering pest and pesticide burdens on cities, where a dense population results in a single exposure source affecting many people at the same time when regulating pesticide use. Organophosphate metabolites were measured in the urine of 882 New Yorkers, while 1,452 residents were tested for pyrethroid metabolites. As the researchers explain, the building density and disrepair in parts of NYC likely increased the chances of a pest infestation, which in turn can lead to the reliance on indoor pesticide use. By the 1980’s, organophosphates were the most common class of insecticides in the U.S., and were used indoors until the early 2000’s when […]

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Bill Introduced to Restrict the Pesticide Methoprene in Estuaries in New York County

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2013) Suffolk County, New York, Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) introduced a bill on July 30, 2013 to establish strict guidelines for the use of methoprene within estuaries in Suffolk County.   Methoprene, an insect growth regulator, is commonly used in mosquito control programs, but is highly toxic to estuarine invertebrates, including crabs and lobsters, which are the backbone of the fishing industry along the East coast. This bill follows similar legislation already passed in Connecticut and Rhode Island to help protect lobster populations. The lobster population in the Long Island Sound has decreased dramatically over the last decade, corresponding with the introduction of pesticides such as methoprene in mosquito control programs. Methoprene  is an insect growth regulator that prevents development to the adult reproductive stages so that insects die in arrested immaturity. It is an insecticide that is acutely toxic to estuarine invertebrates, including valuable food and commercial species like crabs and lobsters.  The effect of mosquito pesticides on marine life, especially lobsters, has come under scrutiny in recent years as mosquito spray programs in various states escalated efforts to suppress West Nile virus (WNv). Other mosquito-killing chemicals suspected of causing damage to aquatic life include […]

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Herbicides Linked to Depression Among Farmers

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, August, 2, 2013) A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology concludes that farmers using herbicides are nearly two and a half times as likely to be treated for depression as those who did not use herbicides. Furthermore, farmers who are exposed for greater periods of time are also afflicted with greater risk of developing depression, raising concerns of the harm chemicals can cause to mental health. Building on substantial research supporting the link between pesticide exposure and neurological damage, this study examines the role that pesticides play in the overall health of farmers, and gives further weight to the importance of choosing organic food. Researchers surveyed 567 farmers from France, questioning them on the frequency of their use of fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides, to determine how pesticide exposures were linked to the risk of developing clinical depression. Lead researchers and associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, Marc Weisskopf, PhD, said while the results are unclear, they “suggest we should not be ignoring herbicides just because they’re targeting plants.” Previous research has already suggested that pesticides, particularly organophosphates, cause a variety of serious neurological health problems, including Parkinson’s disease. This is not surprising, […]

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Pesticides Linked to Disease Susceptibility in Bees, Effects on Plant Reproduction

Monday, July 29th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, July 29, 2013) Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and University of Maryland have found that low levels of pesticide exposure from crop pollination make honey bees more susceptible to the deadly gut parasite, Nosema ceranae, contributing to declines in bee populations. The study’s findings, released Wednesday July 24 in the journal PLoSONE, expand on a recent report released by the USDA that found parasites, disease, genetics, poor nutrition, and pesticide exposure as synergistic factors in the observable nationwide honey bee decline, but focused on technological stopgap measures without questioning the  sustainability of widespread systemic neonicotinoid pesticide use.  Adding urgency to USDA’s research, another study released just last Monday in the Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences shows that pollinator losses can have a detrimental effects on plant reproduction. Pesticide Exposure and Susceptibility to Disease The newest USDA research adds to the growing body of evidence that shows pesticide exposure weakens honey bees’ immune system making them more susceptible to parasites and pathogens. Researchers took pollen samples from crops that honey bees are known to pollinate including apples, watermelons, pumpkins, cucumbers, blueberries, and cranberries to determine exposure levels and Nosema infection. In sum, researchers found […]

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Organophosphate Poisoning Leads to the Death of School Children in India

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2013) Organophosphate pesticide poisoning from contaminated school lunches is suspected as the cause of deaths for at least 25 children in India. The children, aged four to 12, became sick after eating a lunch provided to them by the school. Several reports suggest the rice or cooking oil used to prepare the food contained unsafe levels of organophosphates, a highly toxic class of pesticides that have the same mechanism of action as nerve gasses. In the U.S. most organophosphates pesticides were phased out of residential use; however, these neurological poisons are still widely used on agricultural crops and for mosquito control. The schoolchildren began fainting soon after eating the contaminated food, and within hours at least 25 children were pronounced dead. Authorities discovered a container of organophosphate pesticides next to the cooking oil, but were not able to determine if this was the source of the poisoning or if the food itself was tainted with organophosphates. The school cooks, who both had children at the school that either fell ill or died from eating the food, told authorities that the cooking oil appeared different than usual, but the principal told them to use it anyway. The […]

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