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Take Action by Sept. 13: Tell Canada to Ban Horrifically Hazardous Wood Preservative Pentachlorophenol

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2020) Canada should be in accordance with international treaty to eliminate persistent pollutants.  Canada is considering the elimination of one of the worst persistent pollutants—pentachlorophenol (penta)—that dot our landscape in utility poles and railroad ties. This wood preservative—a cancer-causing chemical with dioxin, furans, and hexachlorobenzene that causes health and environmental degradation—has no place in society as we struggle with shared global challenges of public and worker health threats, the climate crisis, and biodiversity decline. We have a chance to urge Canada to move ahead with a pentachlorophenol ban, joining with Mexico to show leadership in the protection of health and the environment—something the U.S. has not done. Tell Canada to ban pentachlorophenol. Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is accepting comments on a proposal to ban the all uses of penta in Canada. Comments are due September 13. Canada is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which voted 90-2 to ban penta in 2015. The United States is not a signatory to the Stockholm Convention and still allows the use of penta on utility poles and other “wood that is subject to decay or insect infestation, including supporting structures in contact with […]

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As the World Bans Highly Toxic Wood Preservative, Pentachlorophenol, a Low-Income U.S. Community May Be Home to the Last Production Plant

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

UPDATE: The same day Beyond Pesticides published this piece, Gulbrandsen Chemicals announced it would drop its effort to produce pentachlorophenol in Orangeburg, SC, according to The State newspaper. (Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2020) Orangeburg, South Carolina may be the last place in the world to produce one of the most toxic pesticides known to humanity, pentachlorphenol. Despite a global ban on “penta” in 2016, in force in 186 countries, the United States has continued to import and use this hazardous wood preservative on telephone poles and railroad ties throughout the country. Now, with Mexico set to close one of the last production plants in the world, Gulbrandsen Chemicals Inc. wants to make Orangeburg, a majority black community with a population three times the U.S. poverty rate, the new epicenter for penta manufacturing. Overview and History Penta is used to pressure treat wood, with the aim of prolonging its use in utility poles and railroad ties. Beyond Pesticides has sounded the alarm on penta and other wood preservatives for over 20 years, starting with the reports Pole Pollution and Poison Poles, which outlined the science on the hazards and and alternatives to preservative-coated utility poles. Penta is a particularly concerning wood […]

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Massachusetts Residents Raise Health Concerns about Creosote Railroad Ties in Their Community

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2018) Residents in the town of Great Barrington, MA are concerned about the health effects that could result from creosote-coated railroad ties stored in their neighborhood. According to a report in the Berkshire Eagle, soon after the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MDOT) parked a load of railroad ties along tracks that cut through a neighborhood, community members began to complain about the smell. Creosote is a mixture of thousands of different chemical compounds. Derived mainly from coal tar and regulated as a pesticide by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the material represents a significant hazard that puts people and the environment in danger, and can be readily replaced by safer, alternative materials. “I would want to roll up my windows immediately,” Beth Rose told the Berkshire Eagle. Another Great Barrington resident, Jeanne Bachetti, told the paper, “I started to smell them right after they moved [them] in there. Sometimes we get a propane smell from [nearby] AmeriGas, so I couldn’t tell. Then it dawned on me — that’s not gas.” MDOT is currently in the process of a project to upgrade roughly 40 miles of freight line, and is using 60,000 railroad ties as part […]

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Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Over Dioxin Contamination from Poison Poles in Central California

Friday, September 14th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2018) A lawsuit first filed nearly a decade ago over dioxin contamination released from the storage of chemical treated utility poles was settled this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Judge Richard Seeborg signed the agreement between California utility company Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Ecological Rights Foundation (ERF), which commits PG&E to identifying storage yards holding treated poles, and implementing technologies that reduce dioxin levels through the year 2026. The utility poles of concern were treated with the chemical pentachlorophenol, which is regulated as a pesticide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is known to produce dioxin as a byproduct of its manufacture. “Dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science,” noted ERF attorney Fredric Evenson to KPIX 5.  “This has been a hard-fought legal battle, but in the end PG&E now appears to understand that dioxin has no business in our bay, and will now take meaningful action to benefit San Francisco Bay’s wildlife and residents who eat locally caught seafood.” As part of the settlement, PG&E is not required to admit any wrongdoing. “Because environmental stewardship is a guiding principle at PG&E, we are pleased […]

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Hundreds of Former EPA Employees Ask Senate to Block Pruitt Nomination

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2017) As the controversy surrounding the Trump Administration and GOP Congress’s plan for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to grow, a nonpartisan group of 447 former EPA employees united to write a strongly-worded letter urging the Senate to block Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as EPA Administrator. Citing EPA’s “fundamental obligation to act in the public’s interest based on current law and the best available science,” the group, whose members served under both Democratic and Republican presidents, calls into question Pruitt’s qualifications, given his longstanding record of opposing “longstanding tenets of U.S. environmental law.” This letter is just the latest in the constantly evolving debate over the need for environmental protection. In the past two weeks, the EPA has been under attack by the Trump Administration and Republican lawmakers who would continue to undermine the environmental protections required for clean water, clean air, and healthy natural resources. Myron Ebell, head of Trump’s EPA transition team, suggested last week that the agency’s already understaffed workforce be cut from about 15,000 employees to 5,000, with potentially more cuts to follow. Trump himself then issued an executive order proposing that for every new regulation promulgated, two must be repealed, an […]

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Label Warning on Dangerous PCP-Treated Poles Deemed Unconstitutional

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2016) Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Spatt declared a dangerous wood preservative label ordinance unconstitutional, ending a three year battle between a New York town and Public Service Enterprise Group (PESG). In 2014, under the authority of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), PESG installed thousands of hurricane-resistant utility poles containing the hazardous wood preservative pentachlorophenol (PCP or penta). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines pentachlorophenol as “extremely toxic” to humans even from short-term exposure and is listed as a “probable human carcinogen.” Judge Spatt cited the First Amendment doctrine of commercial speech, stating that, “In order to qualify as commercial speech, the message sought to be regulated must necessarily bear some discernible connection to the commercial interests of the speaker.” Because the utility poles are not intended to be sold to the public nor influence consumer behavior, PESG is not required to post “compelled warning signs” on their dangerous utility poles. In 2014, the Town of North Hempstead on Long Island New York passed a law requiring warning labels on the utility poles that are treated with PCP. At a town board meeting on September 9, a vote of 7-0 mandated the […]

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

Monday, May 18th, 2015

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

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U.S. Senator Calls for Suspension of Pentachlorophenol, Used to Treat Utility Poles

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2015) U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) yesterday called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday to immediately investigate the specific use of pentachlorophenol  (penta or PCP), a toxic wood preservative, to treat  utility poles throughout Long Island and urged  Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG) Long Island to immediately suspend further use of this chemical until a  federal review  is complete. PSEG has been installing new, chemically-treated utility poles throughout the Towns of North Hempstead and East Hampton. In his press  release, Senator Schumer expresses  serious concern about penta’s  health risks to utility workers, adults and children and its ability to  move  into water over the long-term as the chemical leaches from the poles. The Senator also notes that a private firm has conducted a study based on a very limited sample size that does not consider long-term risks as the pole decomposes and further leaches toward groundwater. EPA, which is responsible for evaluating penta’s health and environmental risk, has noted public health concerns related to the chemical when ingested or inhaled, including  neurological, respiratory, kidney and immune system effects. On Long Island, 95,000 of PSEG’s 324,000 utility poles have been treated with penta. […]

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North Hempstead Sued by Utilities over Pole Warning Signs

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, January 21, 2015) Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG) Long Island and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) filed suit against the Town of North Hempstead, New York on Thursday, seeking to impede a 2014 ordinance requiring utility companies to post warning signs on utility poles treated with the hazardous chemical pentachlorophenol (PCP).  The chemical has been listed as a possible carcinogen, is typically contaminated with various forms of dioxins and furans —known carcinogens that persist in the environment. The ordinance, passed in fall 2014, requires warning labels on utility poles  that are treated with the hazardous wood preservative  PCP. The warning states:  “This pole contains a hazardous chemical. Avoid prolonged direct contact with this pole. Wash hands or other exposed areas thoroughly if contact is made.”  PCP is highly toxic and has been listed as a possible carcinogen by national and international agencies. Concerns  have been raised throughout the years over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) continued registration of PCP in the U.S. despite having been banned in all European Union member states, China, India, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Russia. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Central Islip, asserts that the law violates the […]

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United Nations Committee Recommends Global Elimination of Toxic Wood Preservative

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2014) Last week, a United Nations committee of experts recommended the global elimination of the pesticide pentachlorophenol (PCP), widely used in the United States and elsewhere for treatment of wooden utility poles and railroad ties. Scientists cite chemical’s persistence, bioaccumulation, long-range transport, and PCP’s toxic impacts in recommending it being listed in  the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, an  international treaty established to safeguard human and environmental health from highly hazardous chemicals. The committee further noted the wide availability of non-chemical alternatives much safer than PCP, which include steel, composite,  and concrete poles, as well as the burying of power lines. “This is the beginning of the end of pentachlorophenol,” said Pam Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “Pentachlorophenol has global health implications since it is found in the bodies of people throughout the world including Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic. Now governments and the private sector need to get to work to finally eliminate this toxic chemical.” The United States is not a signatory to the Stockholm Convention, and is, in fact, the largest producer and user of PCP in the world. U.S. government agencies have sent mixed messages during  the […]

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EPA Seeks to Block a Worldwide Ban of a Highly Toxic Wood Preservative

Friday, October 24th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2014) The U.S. government is opposing international efforts    under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, supported by  countries worldwide, to halt the global use of the toxic chemical wood preservative, pentachlorophenol  (PCP), which is widely used in the U.S. to treat wood utility poles. U.S. government officials are out of step with countries around the world and domestically with  a bipartisan group of New York state lawmakers  seeking a state ban. Meanwhile, a group of Long Island residents is charging in a lawsuit  that hundreds of new PCP-treated utility poles are causing serious injury to health and property values. This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added PCP to its carcinogen list, saying that PCP is “reasonably anticipated to cause cancer.” The U.S. is the largest producer and user of PCP in the world. A meeting of a Stockholm Convention committee in Rome this week  is  recommending a global ban on PCP. The  Convention is an  international treaty established to control highly hazardous chemicals. While most countries engaged in the process approve of the ban, the U.S. has consistently opposed it. “Cancer-causing chemicals should not be leaking from utility poles into […]

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Toxic Wood Preservative Added to Government List of Carcinogens

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, October 9, 2014) The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released its 13th Report on Carcinogens, a science-based document that identifies chemical, biological, and physical agents that are considered cancer hazards for people living in the United States. While four substances were added, bringing the total list to 243, it is the addition of pentacholophenol (PCP) and its by-products that should raise eyebrows across the United States and perhaps even raise hopes of those fighting against the use of this dangerous chemical that it might be on its way out. Added to the DHHS list as a substance “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” PCP is primarily used as a wood preservative in such items as utility poles, railroad ties, and fence posts. An organocholrine compound, the substances was first developed and used as a pesticide. Byproducts of PCP include dioxins. The reasons for the inclusion on the HHS list include findings that exposure to this mixture was associated with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in studies in humans and caused tumors in the liver and other organs in mice. The addition of PCP to the DHHS’s list comes as little surprise, after decades […]

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State Legislation Introduced To Prohibit Utility Poles Treated with Hazardous Wood Preservative

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2014) New York Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Kenneth LaValle have introduced legislation that will  prohibit the future use of utility poles treated with pentachlorophenol (PCP), and call for the posting of warnings to inform people about the dangers of contact with PCP on existing poles. PCP has been listed as a possible carcinogen, is typically contaminated with various forms of dioxins and furans -known carcinogens that persist in the environment. Just last week, Beyond Pesticides reported that the Town of North Hempstead on Long Island, New York passed a new law requiring warning labels on utility poles that are treated with the hazardous wood preservative  pentachlorophenol  (PCP). Labeling for treated poles are now required to have the following warning: “This pole contains a hazardous chemical. Avoid prolonged direct contact with this pole. Wash hands or other exposed areas thoroughly if contact is made.” PCP is highly toxic and has been listed as a possible carcinogen by national and international agencies. Concerns have been raised throughout the years over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) continued registration of PCP in the U.S. even though it has already been banned in all European Union […]

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Local Municipality Requires Labeling of Penta (PCP)-Treated Utility Poles

Monday, September 15th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, September 15, 2014) The Town of North Hempstead on Long Island, New York has passed a new law requiring warning labels on the utility poles that are treated with the hazardous wood preservative, pentachlorophenol  (PCP). At the town board meeting on September 9, a vote of 7-0 mandated the labeling with the following warning: “This pole contains a hazardous chemical. Avoid prolonged direct contact with this pole. Wash hands or other exposed areas thoroughly if contact is made.” Since the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), operated by Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), installed thousands of new hurricane-resistant utility poles that are thicker and taller, it shed  more light on the community hazards  associated with use of pentachlorophenol. Of the 324,000 utility poles on Long Island, about 95,000 have been treated with PCP. Even though there is a prohibition  of PCP for residential uses within the U.S., it still can be used on utility poles, railroad ties and other industrial uses under  federal law. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines pentachlorophenol as “extremely toxic” to humans even from short-term exposure and is listed as a “probable human carcinogen.” The inhalation or ingestion can lead to cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, […]

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Cancer-Causing Arsenic Found in Rice Products

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2012) Raising questions about the adequacy of pesticide regulation, historically and ongoing, Consumer Reports published a new study yesterday that finds “worrisome” levels of inorganic arsenic in rice products. Arsenic is a known human carcinogen. This new report follows its earlier one that finds high levels of arsenic in apple and grape juice. The report finds elevated arsenic levels across organic and conventional products, raising serious questions about widespread environmental and soil contamination from past and continuing arsenical pesticide use. Although organic arsenic occurs naturally in the environment, it is synthetic inorganic arsenic that poses the biggest health hazards to humans and animals. So, humans are exposed to two kinds of the carcinogen in air, water, soil, and food sources. But unlike organic arsenic, which is found naturally in the environment, inorganic arsenic is present in our food as a result of pesticide application and animal feed. Arsenic is added to chicken feed as a supplement to control intestinal parasites and promote growth. It is consequently transferred into the meat of the animals and turns up in chicken manure. Arsenic is also widely used in the treatment of utility poles and in the arsenical herbicide MSMA […]

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Beyond Pesticides Celebrates 30 Years of Making the Environment Safer

Monday, October 24th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2011) This article is reprinted from the SafeLawns blog by Paul Tukey. Mr. Tukey, the founder of SafeLawns.org, is an American journalist, author, filmmaker and motivational public speaker, who has a particular expertise in environmental issues related to landscape management and water quality. We thank Paul for all of his tremendous work and for the opportunity to discuss on the safelawns.org blog the 30-year history of Beyond Pesticides’ work and the vision and purpose of our work. We will be hosting a reception with live music and screening of the film Vanishing of the Bees on Thursday, October 27th, 6:30 pm at Busboys and Poets (14th and V Streets NW) in Washington, DC. For more information and to RSVP, click here. Read Mr. Tukey’s interview below with Beyond Pesticides Executive Director Jay Feldman, discussing the accomplishments of the last 30 years: Paul Tukey: This coming Thursday, Oct. 27, a remarkable achievement will be marked in Washington, D.C., when Beyond Pesticides celebrates its 30th anniversary. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Busboys & Poets, leaders of the environmental movement will come together with the general public for a benefit reception with live music and organic food and drinks. […]

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FDA Tests Mott’s Plant after Groups Discover High Arsenic Levels in Juice

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2011) Under pressure from lab results showing arsenic in apple juice, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and New York state officials inspected a Williamson, NY Mott’s apple products plant for the toxic metal on July 26, 2011. While the lab tests commissioned by the Rochester-based Empire State Consumer Project examined several brands of apple juice and apple sauce, Mott’s Apple Juice stood out, with one sample registering 55 parts per billion of arsenic, five times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) legal limit (tolerance level) for drinking water. While no longer used in U.S. orchards, arsenic-based pesticides are still used on food crops in some countries, including China. “This is not the first time high levels of arsenic have been found in apple juice,” said Judy Braiman, executive director of the Empire State Consumer Project. “It is past time for the FDA to set a limit on a toxic substance like arsenic with long term health effects in the juice that kids drink.” Two-thirds of apple juice that Americans consume ””more than 400 million gallons annually”” comes from China. The Empire State Consumer Project and Food & Water Watch sent a letter to […]

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Carcinogenic Pollutant Found in Drinking Water Across U.S.

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2011) A report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) finds that drinking water in 31 cities across the country is contaminated with hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, a carcinogenic chemical contaminant with numerous sources including treated wood utility poles that line streets and backyards across the the United States. Wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA), such as playgrounds, decks, and railroad ties, in addition to utility poles, can leach the chemicals into soils and groundwater, creating serious risks to public health. Other common sources of chromium-6 pollution include discharge from steel and pulp mills as well as metal-plating and leather-tanning facilities. It can also pollute water through erosion of natural deposits. The use of CCA in the treatment of utility poles is notable not only because of the presence of poles in numerous communities throughout the country, but also because utility companies often donate or sell decommissioned poles, which are then used by homeowners to line walkways and gardens or create structures around the yard, unknowingly contributing to the proliferation of these toxic substances. Beyond Pesticides has worked on the issue of wood treatments, including CCA, since the mid-1980s and has advocated for the adoption […]

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Group Petitions EPA to Stop Sale of Nano-Copper Pesticides

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2010) The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) filed a legal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling on the agency to use its pesticide regulation authority to halt the sale of untested nano-copper wood preservative products. The letter is the second ICTA challenge in the past two years of EPA’s failure to regulate pesticidal nanomaterials. In 2008, ICTA, Beyond Pesticides, Friends of the Earth and others including filed a petition challenging EPA’s failure to regulate nanosilver as a unique pesticide. ICTA research found nano-copper-based wood preservative pesticides in wide use. Yet, despite EPA’s two-year old policy to classify such pesticides as “new” and requiring further data, the agency has not treated them any different than larger particle based preservatives. The three nano-copper products highlighted in the letter are manufactured by Osmose, Inc. In each instance, although the active ingredient, copper carbonate, was purchased from another company, the copper carbonate is then milled by Osmose to produce nanoparticles of copper carbonate. A 2008 report notes that nano-copper preservatives have captured at least 50% of the North American wood preservative market. However, recent reports have noted that market capture could be as high as 75-80% now. […]

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Oregon County Proposes Rules to Protect Drinking Water

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2010) Proposed land use rules aimed to protect drinking-water sources from contaminated runoff and to improve floodplain regulation are under consideration by Lane County Board of Commissioners of Lane County, Oregon. The proposed rules would restrict fertilizer runoff and herbicide spraying near drinking-water sources. The draft ”˜Drinking Water Protection Zone,’ which would restrict hazardous materials entering sources of drinking including nitrogen and phosphate-based fertilizers, paint, oils and fuels, wood preservatives, solvents among others. Utilities and public-water operators asked the county in 2008 to strengthen drinking-water protections by restricting development and other activity that could contaminate the water supply, upset riverbanks or affect the filtering functions of wooded streamside areas. In a report to the board, county staff said the drinking-water rules “are being proposed to reduce the possible health and safety risks associated with ”¦contamination of sources public drinking water.” Reducing fertilizers can have the added benefit of reducing the levels of pesticides that runoff into lakes and streams as well, as many pesticide products are formulated with both fertilizers and herbicides. The recommendations call for a 200-foot buffer around streams, rivers and lakes that provide public drinking water. That’s up from the current 50-foot setback […]

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This National Poison Prevention Week Lose the Pesticides for the Kids

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2009) “Children Act Fast…So Do Poisons” is the message that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sending in conjunction with the Poison Prevention Week Council to keep poisonous substances out of the hands of children. In observance of the annual National Poison Prevention Week (March 14-20), EPA recommends locking up household cleaners, disinfectants, solvents and other materials as the best way to reduce accidental poisoning among children. However, Beyond Pesticides advises the public to throw out poisonous chemicals and utilize non-toxic methods of pest management. While it is wise to keep all potentially harmful household products out of the reach and hands of children, Beyond Pesticides recommends to the public to abandon poisonous chemicals and instead practice non-toxic methods of pest management and use least-toxic chemicals where possible. EPA continues to facilitate and apologize for the unnecessary use of highly toxic pesticides, disinfectants, solvents and other hazardous materials that it registers, and misses every year the important opportunity during National Poison Prevention Week to alert families with children about integrated pest management and organic methods that are effective, but not reliant on hazardous methods. Numerous scientific studies that show children carrying a body burden of […]

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Dangerous Arsenic from Treated Wood Playground Equipment Still Being Found Where Children Play

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, November 25, 2009) Although phased out from use in playground, deck and landscaping timbers, chromated-copper-arsenic (CCA), a hazardous wood preservative still allowed for use on utility poles, continues to be found on children’s playgrounds. Researchers at Tulane University sampled playgrounds from the city of New Orleans metropolitan area and found significant amounts of arsenic in the soils. Tulane University’s Center for Bioenvironmental Research Howard Mielke, PhD and his colleagues, concerned about risks to children posed by treated wood, used a portable X-ray fluorescence instrument to survey playgrounds for arsenic. Their results, presented at the 30th annual North American meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry and entitled “Soil arsenic surveys of New Orleans: Localized hazards in children’s play areas,” finds that 56.8% of wood sampled are treated with CCA and 78% of soils sampled from playgrounds contain levels of arsenic greater than the state “acceptable” level. One playground in particular contains CCA-treated wood that had been chipped and used as a cushioning ground surface around slides, swings and other equipment from which a child might fall. These chips contain high concentrations -813 to 1,654 ppm- of leachable arsenic. Note: The researchers informed the school of the […]

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Utility Company Sued Over Pollution from Toxic Wood Poles

Monday, September 21st, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2009) In a federal lawsuit filed in San Francisco earlier this month, the environmental watchdog group Ecological Rights Foundation (ERF) claims that dioxin is being discharged from Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) utility poles into the San Francisco Bay, violating both the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Dioxin is a contaminant in the wood preservative pesticide pentachlorophenol (penta), the chemical used to treat more than one million PG&E utility poles in Northern California. Dioxin is a known human carcinogen. It also causes birth defects at extremely low levels. The ERF suit asks the court to stop PG&E from discharging dioxin from its utility poles, a move that could eventually lead to wide scale replacement of the ubiquitous penta-treated wood poles. “These are the common, I guess you could say ‘classic,’ brown wood poles you see holding up wires on practically every street,” says ERF attorney Bill Verick. Pentachlorophenol (penta) is a chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbon, closely related to other chlorophenols, hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans, all of which are found in commercial grade penta, along with secret “inert” ingredients. It was 1978 when EPA began its review of wood preservatives, including […]

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