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Impossible Burger Causes Some Beef in the “Green” Market

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 8, 2019) The Food and Drug Association (FDA) recently approved the Impossible Burger, sparking a debate among environmentalists and lovers of plant-based meat products. The burger, manufactured by the Impossible Foods Group, is comprised of genetically engineered soy and heme (iron-containing molecule that is a component of hemoglobin and common to plants and animals). It contains over 11.3 times the amount of glyphosate residue as its counterpart, the non-GMO Beyond Burger. Spurring more controversy, the Impossible Foods Group recently attacked regenerative agricultural practices that advocates say are part of the solution to the current food system and climate crises. Impossible Foods Group uses genetically engineered soy that is resistant to herbicides such as glyphosate. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has recently taken the pesticide spotlight as over 18,000 plaintiffs are suing the agricultural giant Bayer over diagnoses of cancer and other diseases allegedly caused by use of their products. Ingestion or exposure to glyphosate can increase risk of cancer, disrupt estrogen, harm gut bacteria, and jeopardize overall health. Pesticide residues end up in food, and runoff or drift from agricultural fields contaminates soil, air, and water. The spraying of these chemicals can also endanger nearby operations […]

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Hawai’i Agribusiness Development Corporation in Violation of Clean Water Act Due to Glyphosate Contamination

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 24, 2019) The U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai’i has found the state’s Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) guilty of violating the Clean Water Act. The case, brought by organizations including Surfrider Foundation, Pesticide Action Network North America, and others, represented by Earthjustice, accused ADC of dumping water contaminated with pesticides, including the cancer-causing herbicide glyphosate, into the Pacific Ocean off of West Kauai without a permit since 2015. Hawai’i bears the brunt of agribusiness wrongdoings, and Kauai in particular has faced past issues of pesticide injustice at the hands of the ADC. However, this new ruling marks a turn in past decisions that have favored agribusiness, as the judge found ADC violations. Advocates hope that this decision will highlight the need for government accountability, and increase transparency about what pesticides and chemicals are entering our oceans. The ADC system collects groundwater and storm water runoff through a series of canals, ditches, and pumps. The polluted water, full of toxic pesticides and chemicals, discharges into the Pacific Ocean along popular beaches that residents use for recreational activities, including surfing and fishing. The case brought against ADC accuses the department of dumping this water without a National […]

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Cockroaches Rapidly Develop Resistance to Nearly Every Pesticide, Requiring Alternative Approach

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2019) German cockroaches, the bane of many apartment-dwellers throughout the U.S., can rapidly develop cross-resistance to insecticides they have never been exposed to, according to researchers from Purdue University. “This is a previously unrealized challenge in cockroaches,” said Michael Scharf, PhD, whose findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports. “Cockroaches developing resistance to multiple classes of insecticides at once will make controlling these pests almost impossible with chemicals alone.” In the face of pesticide resistance, integrated measures that focus structural, mechanical, and cultural pest management practices must become standard practice for this notorious pest. Dr. Scharf and his colleagues began their study at two separate housing complexes in Indianapolis, IN and Danville, IL. Prior to the study, researchers pre-treated a subset of cockroaches in each building, and selected five insecticides out of 14 commercially available. These insecticides – abamectin, pyriproxyfen, thiamethoxam, lambda-cyhalothrin, and boric acid, were used because cockroaches had already developed significant resistance to others tested, mostly synthetic pyrethroids. Pre-treatment applications of synthetic pyrethroids revealed over 80% of cockroaches surviving. For the insecticides left with any level of efficacy, researchers established three separate treatment approaches, and stuck with it for six months, with one […]

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Swiss Government Challenged by United Nations for Human Rights Violations Associated with Pesticide Use and Actions of Pesticide Companies

Friday, June 28th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2019) As is the case in many countries, the conversation about the use of pesticides has been especially vigorous in the past few years. Switzerland is a case in point: it is undergoing deep scrutiny of pesticide use, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, has now said publicly that pesticide companies’ behavior is “seriously deficient” regarding human rights (especially those of children), and that the Swiss government should act more aggressively to phase out use of these hazardous chemicals. Recently, the pesticide conversation has ratcheted up several notches, not only in the U.S., but also globally, due to greater public awareness of the health and environmental threats of pesticide use, more and more research underscoring those threats, and pointedly, the cascade of litigation against Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) for harm to individuals who have used its glyphosate-based products. Public awareness in Switzerland is also mounting in response to global developments, to recent discoveries that small streams in Swiss agricultural areas are heavily polluted with pesticides, and to broadening recognition that pesticides are linked to a plethora of harms to human health, pollinators, water, farmworkers, wildlife, ecosystems and biodiversity, and more. In 2017, a UN […]

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Scientists Say, “We know enough to act now,” on Perilous Global Insect Decline

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2017) A review of scientific literature urges for swift societal action on the collapse of insect populations worldwide, according to authors of a study. The authors point out that while there is a need for more research on the extent of the phenomenon as well as causal factors, there is currently sufficient evidence to spur and inform transformational policy in response to a definite worldwide crisis. The paper, Declines in insect abundance and diversity: We know enough to act now, provides a run-down of actions to take—from national policy to apartment balconies. Recent reports name alarming drops in insect diversity and abundance, prompting the ominous label of “insect apocalypse.” Almost half of all insect species are rapidly declining, and a third are being threatened with extinction. The authors state, “Although there has been some criticism of specific studies, the overall trend is clear and the broad geographic reach is perhaps the most dire feature of the current crisis, as assessments from all continents except Antarctica reveal declines.” The main culprits of insect demise are habitat loss and degradation, pesticides, and climate change. The authors note that it is less critical, at this juncture, to focus on […]

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Starbucks Sued for Illegally Using Carcinogenic Pesticide Near Food and Beverages

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2019) A class-action lawsuit is accusing Starbucks stores in New York of misusing a highly toxic, carcinogenic pesticide near food, putting the health of customers and employees at risk.  “Stores throughout Manhattan have for many years been permeated with a toxic pesticide called Dichlorvos [DDVP], which is highly poisonous and completely unfit for use in proximity to food, beverages and people,” the suit reads. According to the lawsuit, Hot Shot brand No Pest Strips were placed in food areas in violation of labels that prohibit the pesticide’s use in “the food/feed areas of food/feed processing or food/feed manufacturing or food/feed service establishments.” A pest control operator found the illegally placed products on a number of separate occasions, hidden under bagels or in pastry display cases, during a five year period from 2013 to 2018. This was not at only one location, but appeared to be a common occurrence at nearly every one of the 100+ stores serviced by the pest control operator. The case brings to light a number of issues with the use of synthetic pesticides. The unsanitary conditions permitted to persist within Starbucks stores, per the pictures provided in the suit (see page 14), […]

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Protect Organic Family Farmers Who Safeguard the Earth and Our Health

Monday, April 29th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2019) It Is Time to Stop the Attack on Organic and Protect the Family Farmers Who Safeguard the Earth and Our Health. Listening to and talking with dairy farmers at the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Seattle last week, it is clear that organic consumers and farmers everywhere need to rise up to protect the standards of organic. This is the only way we can ensure a livable future—clean air, water, air, and a reversal of the climate crisis and the insect apocalypse. While there are numerous problems with the current administration’s attack on organic across the board—and we are focused on the range of problems, dairy is a good place where we must join together before more organic family farmers literally go out of business. Organic dairy is the first place families look to protect their children. Tell USDA and your members of Congress to protect organic family farmers who safeguard the environment and animal welfare. As a result of abuses in government management of organic, we are seeing an attack on organic that can be corrected with the adoption of proposed rules that have been waiting to be adopted—the Origin of Livestock and the Access to […]

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Organic Farming Curbs the Spread of Foodborne Pathogens, According to Study

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2019) Organic farming promotes natural resistance to common foodborne human pathogens, according to a study that evaluates the benefit of soil organisms. By protecting valuable species of dung beetles and soil bacteria, organic farming systems naturally act to clean up and decompose potentially pathogen-bearing animal feces. While these natural systems suppr ess pathogens on organic farms, coventional chemical-intensive farms are left with higher levels of fecal residues and are therefore significantly more likely to yield produce carrying such foodborne pathogens as E. coli. The authors emphasize that curbing the spread of common foodborne pathogens could save thousands of lives and prevent millions of illnesses each year. The study, “Organic farming promotes biotic resistance to foodborne human pathogens,” published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, compares dung beetle populations, soil bacteria diversity, and feces removal rates on 70 organic and conventional broccoli farm fields across the west coast of the U.S. In addition to studying field conditions, authors conducted additional microcosm studies to directly test the effects of dung beetles and soil microbes on the suppression of introduced E. coli. Results from field analyses show that organic management practices lead to greater biodiversity among dung beetles and soil […]

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37th National Pesticide Forum Kicks Off In New York City Today, with NYC Premiere of “Ground War” film, and Special Guest Lee Johnson Who Successfully Sued Monsanto for His Cancer!

Friday, April 5th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 5, 2019) Beyond Pesticides’ 37th National Pesticide Forum, Organic Strategies for Community Environmental Health, begins today at the New York Academy of Medicine, and continues until tomorrow night, where the New York City premiere of the new documentary Ground War will take place with special guest Lee Johnson—who successfully sued Monsanto after linking his cancer to exposure to the weed killer glyphosate. (Tickets are $10 and available through Ticketmaster until sold out, please sign up/log in to a Ticketmaster account to purchase). The two-day conference is convened by Beyond Pesticides in collaboration with the Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and 24 local cosponsoring organizations. The conference begins at 4:30 pm on Friday April 5, followed by a reception and evening session. Saturday includes breakfast and runs from 8:30 am until 5:30 pm. The Ground War screening, to be held at Florence Gould Hall (55 E. 59th Street), starts at 7:30 pm and concludes with a panel discussion featuring advocates and California Groundskeeper Dewayne Lee Johnson. The Forum provides a unique place to network with advocates, scientists, practitioners, policy makers, and other experts on the cutting edge of the pesticide […]

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General Mills Commits to Large Acreage of Regenerative Agriculture, Short of Organic

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2019) Corporate food giant General Mills has thrown some weight behind regenerative agriculture, committing to converting one million acres of farmland to regenerative practices by 2030. Some – but not all – of the initiative involves organic land management. Regenerative agriculture is a term with a range of interpretations, but the key element is improving soil health through carbon sequestration. Robert Rodale, one of the early proponents of organic agriculture and a major publisher, coined the name to characterize a process that moves beyond sustainable maintenance and into improvement of resources. This methodology is gaining traction in the farming world because it is economically beneficial to farmers and promotes environmental remediation. A 2018 study shows that ecologically-based farming systems have fewer pests and generate higher profits than their conventional counterparts. “Practitioners who have done this the longest point to the fact that in extreme years, their farms will do better than those who do not,” says Jerry Lynch, General Mills’ chief sustainability officer, “After some transition time, depending on their location and cropping system, farmers are saving a lot of money because they’re using fewer inputs.” In their press release, General Mills lays out three foci […]

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Deadly Dioxin, An Agent Orange By-Product, Continues to Contaminate Vietnam

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2019) Fifty years after the end of the Vietnam War, the Agent Orange byproduct dioxin continues to contaminate Vietnam’s soils and wildlife, and subsequently affect human health. In their review, scientists at Iowa State and the University of Illinois focus on the locations where hot spots and contaminated sediments have persisted after 130,000 fifty-five gallons drums of toxic herbicides were sprayed over Vietnam’s farm fields and jungle canopies during the war. “Existing Agent Orange and dioxin research is primarily medical in nature, focusing on the details of human exposure primarily through skin contact and long-term health effects on U.S. soldiers,” says Ken Olson, PhD, co-author on the article. “In this paper, we examine the short and long-term environmental effects on the Vietnamese natural resource base and how persistence of dioxin continues to affect soils, water, sediment, fish, aquatic species, the food supply, and Vietnamese health.” While public attention has generally focused on the “rainbow herbicides,” such as Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam war, it is the dioxin TCDD (2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzodioxin), a byproduct of Agent Orange’s manufacturing process, that has caused the most lasting damage within the country. While the breakdown period for Agent Orange herbicides 2,4-D […]

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Nutrient Runoff, Aquatic Weed Killers, and Florida’s Red Tide Collide in Public Debate

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2019) After a brief hiatus, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is continuing use of aquatic herbicides, including glyphosate, for invasive species management. Public pressure and feedback caused FWC to take a temporary pause from spraying while the commission collected public comment  through public hearings and emails from late January through February. FWC ultimately decided to resume spraying invasive species, and points to its improved integrated management system as reducing overall herbicide use. Glyphosate, one of the 17 aquatic herbicides that FWC uses regularly has sparked opposition from environmentalists and the general public due to its wide usage and known adverse effects. According to FWC data, 12,263 pounds of glyphosate-based herbicides were used on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee in 2017. About 175,000 people have signed North Palm Beach photographer and wildlife advocate Jim Abernathy’s petition titled “Stop The State-Sanctioned Poisoning of Our Lakes and Rivers!”. The petition decries the use of glyphosate to kill invasive aquatic plants and warns of subsequent nutrient pollution caused by decay. An excess of nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus) in water bodies contribute to algal blooms. Eutrophication can eventually result in oxygen depletion and thereby decrease biodiversity. FWC denies that the […]

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Fighting for the Environmental Rights of Lake Erie with a Creative Legal Strategy

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2019) Lake Erie, the 11th largest freshwater lake in the world, is once again plagued with pollution, although in this decade it is due primarily to agricultural runoff — as opposed to the raw sewage and industrial effluents that afflicted it in the mid-20th century. Concerned and weary Toledo, Ohio residents are seeking remedies through the adoption of a ballot initiative, “Lake Erie Bill of Rights,” that will go before local voters this month. It asks: should Lake Erie, as an entity, have the legal right “to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve”? The New York Times reported on this unusual ballot question, which asks whether the lake ought to be granted rights more typically ascribed to people. If the measure passes, people would be able to sue polluters on behalf of the lake, using the argument that Lake Erie’s rights had been violated. Fifty years ago, prior to the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act, U.S. water bodies, including the Great Lakes and their tributaries, were in big trouble. One of Lake Erie’s tributaries — the Cuyahoga River — became infamous for literally catching fire due to the sewage and industrial waste that were freely dumped into it. […]

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Time for a Green New Deal to Accelerate the Organic Transition

Monday, January 7th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2019) As the dust settles on the final Farm Bill, which passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last month, it is clear that neither the substance nor the process on a range of issues meet the urgent need to address key sustainability issues that put the future in peril. We must not allow this Farm Bill to be the final word on a number of critical environmental issues facing the nation and world. That is why it is absolutely critical that we get to work immediately, with the new Congress, to set a new course that transforms the institutions of government that are holding back the urgently needed transition to a green economy. Tell your Senators and Representative to support a Green New Deal that restructures food and agriculture programs. On the Farm Bill, our victories were mostly measured in terms of what we were able to remove from the Farm Bill—not the standard of achievement that we need to face critical environmental threats.  The good. Our major victory in the Farm Bill does not move us forward, but simply protects the status quo of our democracy—protecting the power of states and local government to […]

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Is Your Yoga Mat or Gym Breeding Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria?

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January 2, 2019) The “indoor microbiome” of yoga studios and other athletic facilities often contain significant levels of antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, which show up in dust and breed antibiotic resistance, according to research published last month in the journal mSystems. Triclosan may be banned from hand soaps, but its continued use in a myriad of other products, from disinfectant sprays to impregnated clothing, yoga mats, and other work-out equipment makes it difficult to avoid this now-ubiquitous chemical. This is a public health concern because these antibacterial or antimicrobial chemicals are link to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance kills over 23,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition to the CDC, the World Health Organization has cited this escalating problem as become one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Many people may suspect their gym or yoga study is not a germ-free location, but attempts to address these germs through antibacterial sprays or impregnated yoga mats and other surfaces, may be exacerbating the issue—doing much more harm than good. The continued detection of triclosan and its impacts at new and unexpected locations are feeding renewed calls for a complete ban on […]

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Blackberry Leaves Decompose to Thwart Mosquito Breeding

Friday, December 21st, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2019) A study at the University of Maine (UMaine) finds that adding blackberry leaf litter in stormwater catch basins creates an “ecological trap,” enticing mosquito females to lay eggs in sites unsuitable for larvae survival. Employing this new and incredibly viable “attract-and-kill’ tool for mosquito control shows potential for preventing the breeding of mosquitoes that may carry insect-borne diseases, especially in urban environments. Stormwater catch basins regularly accumulate leaf litter, which serve as habitat for the mosquito species Culex pipiens (Cx. Pipiens) that may carry West Nile virus. Previous University of Maine research discovered decomposing leaf litter from Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and common blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) produces chemical compounds that attracts and stimulates Cx. Pipiens female to oviposit, or lay eggs. Investigating the attractiveness and lethality of varying catch basin conditions to mosquitoes, researchers hypothesized that blackberry leaf litter could be shown to be lethal to developing mosquito larvae, and, therefore, act as a natural ecological trap for Cx. Pipiens. Five varying treatments were applied to a total 50 catch basins. Treatments included (1) all debris dredged weekly throughout the duration of the study, (2) no change to debris naturally occurring in catch basins, (3) […]

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Analysis: Wins and Losses in the Farm Bill—Time for a Green New Deal

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2018) As the dust still settles on the final Farm Bill, which passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last week, it is clear that neither the substance nor the process on a range of issues meet the urgent need to address key sustainability issues that put the future in peril. We must not allow this Farm Bill to be the final word on a number of critical environmental and public health issues facing the nation and world. That is why it is absolutely critical that we get to work immediately, with the new Congress, to set a new course that transforms the institutions of government that are holding back the urgently needed transition to a green economy. On the Farm Bill, our victories were mostly measured in terms of what we were able to remove from the legislation—not the standard of achievement that we need to face critical environmental threats. The good. Our major victory in the Farm Bill does not move us forward, but simply protects the status quo of our democracy—protecting the power of states and local government to adopt pesticide restrictions that are more stringent than the federal government. With your help […]

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Endocrine Disrupting Herbicide, Atrazine, Exceeds Legal Limits in Midwest

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2018) A recent analysis of annual drinking water quality reports has revealed that many community drinking water systems in the Midwest have seasonal exceedances of the allowable limit for the herbicide atrazine. Atrazine, linked to endocrine disruption, neuropathy, and cancer, is the second most widely used pesticide in corn growing areas, with over 73 million pounds applied to agricultural fields each year.  A 2009 study by Paul Winchester, MD, professor of clinical pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and a neonatologist at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis, linked birth defects to time of conception, with the greatest impact on children conceived when concentrations of atrazine and other pesticides are highest in the local drinking water. (See Reproductive Effects Peak with Pesticide Exposure.) During peak use, atrazine levels in drinking water have been recorded at three to seven times above the legal limit. In addition to the well documented impact on the environment, recent  studies have linked prolonged pesticide exposure to not only shortened gestation and preterm birth for women, but also neurodevelopment delays in children. Ultimately, these unreported seasonal peaks may result in persistent adverse health impacts in impacted communities. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), enacted in 1974, […]

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Dolphins in Gulf of Mexico Contaminated with “Inert,” but Toxic, Pesticide Product Ingredients

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2018) Bottlenose dolphins found along Florida’s west coast contain detectable levels of phthalates, chemicals used in plastics, cosmetics and as inert ingredients in pesticide products, research published in the journal GeoHealth last month indicates. The study, published by scientists from the College of Charleston, South Carolina, is the first to find detectable levels of these toxic industrial byproducts in dolphins. Given the transient nature of urinary detection, the findings indicate that dolphins and other marine mammals are at increased risk of health effects related to phthalate exposure. Scientists sampled a total of 17 dolphins found in Sarasota Bay, FL over the course of two years. Of the 17, phthalates were detected in 12 individuals, or 71% of dolphins. The type of phthalates discovered was indicative of the source of the contaminant. With researchers detecting mono‐(2‐ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP) and monoethyl phthalate (MEP) most frequently. While MEHP is associated with plastic pollution, MEP is a breakdown product of diethyl phthalate (DEP), a compound that has been used in pesticide products as an inert ingredient. “These chemicals can enter marine waters from urban runoff and agriculture or industrial emissions, but we also know that there is a lot of […]

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Study of Rural New York State Homes Finds Pesticides in Every Sample Tested

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2018) Pesticide residue doesn’t announce itself –it isn’t colored, it doesn’t glow or reflect light, and after an initial application doesn’t put out a discernible odor – but it is likely ubiquitous in rural U.S. homes, according to a study published by Cornell University researchers late last month. The study is a warning specifically to households with young children, who are at increased risk of health effects from even minute levels of pesticide exposure. “Numerous health problems occur from exposure to pesticides, such as cancer, birth defects, leukemia and ocular [vision-related] toxicity, among a number of other health issues,” said Joseph Laquatra, PhD, coauthor of the research. “Households with crawling toddlers should be concerned, as toddlers will accumulate pesticide residues on their hands and then ingest them due to hand-to-mouth behaviors.” Researchers focused in on 132 households in rural counties of New York State that agreed to test for pesticide residue inside their home. Wipe samples were collected from both carpeted and non-carpeted areas, and tested for pesticides used commonly as part of agricultural production in the region. The pesticides analyzed included 15 compounds ranging from organophosphates like chlorpyrifos and malathion, to synthetic pyrethroids like resmethrin, […]

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Management of Pesticide Waste a Global Problem

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2018) The unsustainable life cycle management of pesticides during the past seven decades has created huge stockpiles of these (and other toxic) chemicals across much of the globe, including Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. The journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research has published a special series of articles and reports from the International HCH & Pesticides Association (IHPA), titled “The legacy of pesticides and POPs stockpiles — a threat to health and the environment.” Stockpiles have accumulated because some products have been banned for health or environmental reasons, leaving stocks (aka waste) that are often stored inadequately, and which deteriorate and migrate to contaminate the environment and put people at risk. Those affected are very often in poor, rural communities that may be unaware of the threat in their midst. Beyond Pesticides covered this “chemical time bomb” problem in 2004 and again nearly a decade ago. The special issue of Environmental Science and Pollution Research responds to multiple fronts on this problem of accumulation and storage of toxic compounds, identifying the two largest issues as: (1) the stockpile of some 4–7 million tons of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) waste from lindane production; and the 240,000 […]

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Vermont Watershed Protected from Hazardous Pesticide Use

Friday, October 12th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2018) For the first time in its history, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied a permit to apply toxic pesticides to a local waterbody, according to reports from the regional nonprofit organization Toxics Action Center. The DEC decision responded to an application from the Town of Williston, VT to use the herbicide SePRO Sonar AS® on Lake Iroquois, a 237 acre spring-fed body of water used for public recreation, in order to control Eurasian watermilfoil. DEC ruled that use of the herbicide posed risks to the holistic integrity of the lake waters, the Champlain watershed, and surrounding ecology. Sonar contains the active ingredient fluridone, which studies have linked to endocrine disruption, kidney/liver damage and toxicity to fish/aquatic organisms. It has also been identified as a potent groundwater contaminant. With this background, fluridone use has been the subject of public opposition. The permit application submitted by Williston city officials identified $350,000 in costs to apply the pesticide over the next five years, with 3-4 applications scheduled each summer. Milfoil typically takes over shallow coastal waters, out competes native aquatic plants for space and sunlight, reduces oxygen levels and harms fish habitat. Milfoil, like other invasive plants, […]

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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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