Daily News Archive
From April 25, 2006                                                                                                        

Ottawa Calls for Pesticide Moratorium, 2, 4-D Assessement Flawed
(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2006)
The National Democratic Party called for a moratorium on the non-essential use of pesticides yesterday. Member of Parliament, Pat Martin was joined by scientist Meg Sears of the Canadian Coalition for Health and Environment in introducing a Private Members Bill which would amend the Pest Control Products Act to place a ban on cosmetic use in homes, gardens and recreational facilities until evidence showing that such use is safe is presented to Parliament, and concurred by a parliamentary committee. The moratorium would take effect on Earth Day 2007.

In other Canadian news, two studies highlighted in this month’s publication of Paediatrics & Child Health, published by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) question whether current regulation of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), the most common herbicide used to kill weeds in grass, protects human and ecosystem health, and identify tobacco smoke and pesticides as top children’s environmental health concerns.

In the first study, “Pesticide assessment: Protecting public health on the home turf,” pesticide regulation is examined in the context of Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s assessment of2,4-D. The authors M Sears, CR Walker, RHC van der Jagt, and P Claman, state that while the medical literature does not uniformly indicate harms from herbicides, the balance of epidemiological research suggests that 2,4-D can be persuasively linked to cancers, neurological impairment and reproductive problems. These may arise from 2,4-D itself, from breakdown products or dioxin contamination, or from a combination of chemicals.

The authors go on to explain that the regulators rely largely on toxicology, but that experiments may not replicate exposures from 2,4-D application to lawns because environmental breakdown products (eg, 2,4-dichlorophenol) may not accumulate, and selected herbicides are possibly less contaminated. Dioxins are bioaccumulative chemicals that may cause cancer, harm neurological development, impair reproduction, disrupt the endocrine system and alter immune function. The authors criticize the assessment process because no dioxin analyses were submitted to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, and the principal contaminants of 2,4-D are not among the 17 congeners covered in pesticide regulation.

They conclude “the 2,4-D assessment does not approach standards for ethics, rigor or transparency in medical research and that Canada needs a stronger regulator for pesticides. Potentially toxic chemicals should not be registered when more benign solutions exist, risks are not clearly quantifiable or potential risks outweigh benefits. Until landscaping pesticides are curtailed nationally, local bylaws and Quebec’s Pesticide Code are prudent measures to protect public health. Physicians have a role in public education regarding pesticides.”

The second study, “An urban survey of pediatric environmental health concerns: Perceptions of parents, guardians and health care professionals,” by I Buka, WT Rogers, AR Osornio-Vargas, H Hoffman, and M Pearce, YY L surveyed parents/caregivers and health professionals in Edmonton, Alberta, to better understand their concerns about the influence of environmental factors on children’s health. Both groups said tobacco smoke and pesticides in water were their greatest concerns. The information will be used to set an agenda for the resources of the Paediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at Misericordia Hospital (Edmonton, Alberta).

Join CAP president Michel Gaudet at the National Pesticide Forum, May 19-20 in Washington, DC. The Forum will follw Beyond Pesticides' 25th Anniversary Gala on May 18.