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Implications for Human Health: Pesticides and Other Environmental Contaminants Alter Gut Microbiome

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, June 30, 2020) A review of scientific literature on the toxic effect of environmental contaminants—including pesticides—published in the journal Toxicological Science, “The Impact of Environmental Chemicals on the Gut Microbiome,” associates these chemicals to changes in the gut microbiome and other adverse health implications. The review, by researchers at the University of Illinois, looks at how environmental contaminants adversely effects and reinforce chemical disruption of the gut microbiome. It highlights the importance of evaluating how environmental contaminants, like pesticides, impact body regulation by gut microbiota. The study has significant implications for considerations that should be, but are not currently, a part of pesticide review and registration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Gut microbiota plays a crucial role in lifelong digestion, immune, and central nervous system regulation, as wells as other bodily functions. Through the gut biome, pesticide exposure can enhance or exacerbate, the adverse effects of additional environmental toxicants on the body. Since the gut microbiome shapes metabolism, it can mediate some toxic effects of environmental chemicals. However, with prolonged exposure to various environmental contaminants, critical chemical-induced changes may occur in the gut microbes, influencing adverse health outcomes. Karen Chiu, Ph.D., a graduate research fellow at the […]

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Pilot Study Links Celiac Disease to Long-Lived Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, like DDT, in the Environment

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2020) A pilot study at New York University (NYU) provides evidence of a direct relationship between increased risk for celiac disease (adverse immune response to eating gluten) and exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including DDE – a metabolite of the infamous, bird-killing pesticide DDT. Researchers at NYU set out to elucidate the connection between the autoimmune disease and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), also known as “forever chemicals” or “legacy chemicals” due to their persistence in nature and the human body. The new research, published in Environmental Science, highlights higher odds for celiac disease among participants with elevated POPs exposure and differing results among male and female participants. Considering the complexity of these initial results, researcher Leonardo Trasande, Ph.D. says, “It’s not as if these chemicals were designed with the human body in mind; These chemicals were designed with materials in mind.” [See video overview here] Celiac disease produces an immune-mediated inflammatory response to the consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Risk for celiac disease has long been associated with genetic factors, but increased prevalence of the disease inspired further research. Considering previous studies on the deleterious impact of POPs on the immune […]

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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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South Asian Immigrants Exposed to DDT at Higher Risk of Diabetes

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2019) South Asian immigrants to the U.S. may be at increased risk of diabetes due to prior exposure to high levels of DDT, research published by the University of California Davis earlier this month indicates. The study highlights a blind spot for health care in the U.S., researchers say. “Our findings evoke a new interpretation of Rachel Carson’s famous book Silent Spring, in that the high DDT exposures of South Asian immigrants in the U.S. currently fall on deaf ears in the U.S.,” said lead author Michele La Merrill, PhD an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Environmental Toxicology. “Although DDT remains in use in other nations and migration globalizes these exposures, people in the U.S. often mistakenly regard DDT exposure as no longer relevant to our society due to its ban in this country nearly 50 years ago.” When compared to other race and ethnic groups, South Asian immigrants (individuals from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan), are at greater risk of developing diabetes, even when adjusting for potential confounders such as age and obesity. Authors of the study hypothesized that this was a result of past exposure to high levels […]

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Companies that Claim Sustainable Sourcing Lack Criteria, Virtually None Includes Pesticide Use

Friday, November 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2019) A new report out from As You Sow — 2019 Pesticides in the Pantry: Transparency and Risk in Food Supply Chains — focuses on the risks that agricultural pesticide use represents for food manufacturers, and offers recommendations and benchmarks for improvement in the areas of management and transparency. The report concludes that companies typically have some sort of sustainable sourcing program within their supply chains, but that most of those “lack clear criteria,” and virtually none of them includes pesticide use as an indicator. As an organization that works on shareholder advocacy to “harness shareholder power to create lasting change that benefits people, planet, and profit,” As You Sow is responding to investor and shareholder demand that companies reduce the presence of synthetic pesticide chemicals in their supply chains. No doubt this report has arisen indirectly from increased public, judicial, and media attention to the harms — to human and environmental health — of intensive pesticide use in conventional agriculture. Beyond Pesticides maintains that the real fix for the problem is a transition to organic and regenerative agriculture. Highlights of the problem in the U.S. identified in the report include: more than 1 billion pounds […]

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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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New Study Shows Reduction of Persistent Pollutants in Breast Milk, Though Concerns Remain

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2016) Researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and Murdoch University recently released a study whose findings show that levels of pesticides in breast milk have dropped significantly over the past forty years, though some major concerns remain. Published in the international journal Chemosphere, the research shows a 42-fold decrease in levels of pesticides detected in breast milk, and ties the reduction to government efforts to prohibit persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Australia, which has lead to decreased exposure over time. Led by UWA’s internationally renowned human lactation researcher Emeritus Professor Peter Hartmann, Dr. Donna Geddes and Murdoch’s Associate Professor Robert Trengove, the study is a testament to the positive impact banning pesticides can have on the health of individuals, especially vulnerable populations like infants, but also shows that there is a long way to go before our bodies are void of any bioaccumulated toxic residues. Researchers often study breast milk because it can bioconcentrate, or accumulate, persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Multiple studies on breast milk have been performed throughout the years, many of them confirming the fact that common toxic chemicals, such as glyphosate and triclosan, build up in our bodies over time. Most […]

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Legacy Contaminants Found in Swallow Eggs around the Great Lakes

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2016) According to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), high concentrations of dioxins and furans have been detected in tree swallow eggs collected near several sites around the Great Lakes. Other chemicals detected include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which were at background levels. The study is part of efforts to clean up a toxic chemical legacy around the Great Lakes, and the researchers believe their results are critical to regulators to assess “bird or animal deformity or reproductive problems” The study, “Concentrations and spatial patterns of organic contaminants in tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) eggs at United States and binational Great Lakes Areas of Concern, 2010—2015,” used tree swallows to quantify current exposure to organic contaminants across all five Great Lakes including 59 sites within 27  Areas of Concern (AOCs)  and 10 nearby  locations. The Great Lakes Areas of Concern refers to a U.S.-Canada  Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement  (Annex 1 of the 2012 Protocol) that  defines AOCs as “geographic areas designated by the Parties where significant  impairment of beneficial uses  has occurred as a result of human activities at the local level.” An AOC is a location that has […]

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Banned Chemicals Linked to Increased Autism Risk

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2016) Researchers at Drexel University report that higher levels of some organochlorine compounds during pregnancy are associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). The organochlorine compounds under study have long been banned in the U.S., and include pesticides like DDT, underscoring how pervasive and persistent these chemicals are, and their continued impact on human health. The research is reported in the study  Polychlorinated Biphenyl and Organochlorine Pesticide Concentrations in Maternal Mid-Pregnancy Serum Sam ples: Association with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability,  which examines whether prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) influences offspring risk of ASD and intellectual disability without autism (ID). According to the research, children born after being exposed to the highest levels of organochlorines during their mother’s pregnancy are roughly 80 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism when compared to individuals with the very lowest levels of these chemicals. The team looked at a population sample of 1,144 children born in Southern California between 2000 and 2003. Data was accrued from mothers who had enrolled in California’s Expanded Alphafetoprotein Prenatal Screening Program, which is dedicated to detecting birth defects during pregnancy. Participants’ children were […]

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Pesticide Exposure Linked to Abnormal Sperm Development

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, November 10, 2015) Exposure to organochlorine chemicals, such as DDE and PCBs, is linked to increased rates of sperm abnormalities that may lead to fertility problems, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. This is the latest study in a long line of research implicating endocrine (hormone)-disrupting chemicals in reproductive diseases. Researchers investigated this issue by observing the blood serum and sperm quality of 90 men, aged 22-44, participating in health studies in the Faroe Islands, an archipelago under  Denmark’s control that is  located between Iceland, the UK and Norway. Faroe islanders consume a high seafood diet that often consists of pilot whale, integral historically as a  food source for the Faroese people. However, this practice exposes the Faroese to higher than average levels of environmental contaminants. For the study, data on umbilical cord blood and blood serum at age 14 was available for 40 of the participants, allowing a researchers to measure lifetime impacts. Faroese participants were screened for sperm aneuploidy, a condition which usually involves an abnormal number of X or Y chromosomes in sperm, and is suspected as contributing to congenital abnormalities and up to 50% of early pregnancy losses. […]

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Popular Weed Killer 2,4-D and Lice Treatment Lindane Classified as Carcinogens

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2015) The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found that there is some evidence in experimental animals that the popular herbicide, 2,4-D, is linked to cancer and now classifies it as a Group 2B, “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” IARC also classified lindane, used commonly in the U.S. as a topical lice treatment, in Group 1,“carcinogenic to humans” based on sufficient evidence in humans with the onset of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). These latest cancer findings come just months after the agency classified the world’s most widely used herbicide, glyphosate (Roundup), as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” raising public concerns on the lack of action from U.S. regulators. This month, 26 experts from 13 countries met at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) IARC in Lyon, France to assess the carcinogenicity of the insecticide lindane, the herbicide 2,4-D, and insecticide DDT. The findings are published in the Lancet. The new IARC findings come months after the agency classified glyphosate, the ingredient in the popular Roundup weed killer, as a Group 2A “probable” carcinogen, citing sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity based on laboratory studies. This decision sparked renewed calls for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action on […]

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DDT Exposure in Utero Directly Linked to Development of Breast Cancer Later in Life

Friday, June 19th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2015) A new study directly links exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in utero to the development of breast cancer later in life. Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the study looked at data that were taken from a California program that  evaluated  samples from women during 1960s, when DDT use was popular. DDT is known to be an endocrine disruptor, and is linked to serious health effects. Although DDT has been banned for many years, residues still linger in certain areas of the U.S. and continue to cause environmental and health hazards. The recent study, titled DDT Exposure in Utero and Breast Cancer,  focuses on 118 mothers who were members of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan from 1959-1967 and had daughters that were diagnosed with breast cancer by their 50s. Stored blood samples from these mothers gave researchers an idea of how much DDT they were exposed to during pregnancy or soon after giving birth. They found that elevated levels of DDT in the mother’s blood led to a four-fold increase in the daughter’s risk of developing breast cancer. Among those with cancer, 83% had a form of cancer called estrogen positive breast cancer, which […]

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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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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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Legacy of DDT Still Poisoning Birds and People in Michigan

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2014) Residents of St. Louis, Michigan aren’t used to seeing large excavators and dump trucks haul piles of dirt from their front yards or entire blocks of big, neighborhood trees felled. What they are used to seeing are dead birds ””sometimes even spontaneous, mid-flight deaths of the birds”” and because of a toxic series of events, disasters, and delays spanning decades, the two sights are inextricably connected. As one St. Louis resident described to the Detroit Free Press, dozens of dead robins and blackbirds had been collected from her backyard in the 18 years she has lived there, with the most recent just a couple weeks ago. This experience and other similar stories from the area prompted researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) to start figuratively and literally digging. Matt Zwiernik, Ph.D., an environmental toxicologist at MSU, and volunteers collected 29 dead birds, including 22 robins, last year from a nine-block residential area in St. Louis. The scientific sampling was only a small portion of the dead birds they could have collected, Dr. Zwiernik explained to reporters at the Detroit Free Press, as time, distance, logistics, and access to property sometimes limited collection efforts. Nevertheless, it […]

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Pesticide Production Leaves a Legacy of Poisoning and Contamination

Monday, June 30th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, June 30, 2014) Decades later there are still horrifying impacts from a legacy of dumping in the environment tens of thousands of pounds of chemical waste used in the production of pesticides. The production  by the Hooker Chemical Company of C-56, the progenitor of many now banned organochlorine pesticides, has resulted in contamination and hardship. Beyond Pesticides has long advocated for the elimination of hazardous synthetic pesticides, due to unnecessary risks that put the health of both people and entire communities in jeopardy. Long after the Depression Era in Montague, MI, there were still many families who were left jobless and looking for any means to bring back a better life. The town decided to stimulate the local economy by recruiting Hooker Electrochemical Company; a chemical manufacturer originally based in New York, where it had been using an old canal bed for disposal of waste in the 1940s and was looking for a new site to build a chlor-alkali plant. Ninety-six percent of local residents signed the petition to bring them in. The situation was perfect for Hooker, which needed the vast underground reserves of salt and the lake water in the town for cooling during its industrial […]

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Fish from Alaskan Wilderness Contaminated with Banned Pesticides

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2014) A new study released last week by the National Park Service on contaminant use in Alaska, found traces of pesticides in fish ””pesticides which have long been banned and likely never been used within the Alaskan wilderness areas. Researchers examined three Alaskan parks renowned for their remote, pristine and protected wilderness ””Lake Clark National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Katmai National Park”” only to find that contaminants, including PCBs at concentrations exceeding those in the lower 48 states. The study, Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Fish from Western US and Alaska National Parks””Spatial Distribution and Health Thresholds, published in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, sought to compare contaminant level found within fish across the nation. Generally, researchers found that Alaskan fish were more likely to have traces of older chemicals, while those in the lower 48 tended to be dominated by newer chemicals. The most commonly detected chemicals are PCBs, endosulfan, sulfate and p,p’-DDE, a breakdown product of DDT.  Some of these long-banned chemicals actually exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guidelines for human subsistence on fish and wildlife. Among those exceeding acceptable levels, dieldrin, chlordane, and p,p’-DDE have been […]

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Climate Change Increases Storm Severity and Toxic Chemical Hazards

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2013) As the world sheds tears from reading the reports of human suffering and looks on in horror at the pictures of devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, the debate of whether increased occurrences of super-storms like Haiyan are just over the horizon because of man-made climate change have also taken up residence in the headlines. Coupled by coverage of the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the leak of a draft summary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report on the impacts of global warming, the world is clearly paying attention. As the wide array of demonstrated effects and impacts of climate change are discussed on the world stage and world leaders attempt, once again, to create a meaningful plan to mitigate risks and even potentially avoid some of the most extreme threats, an important and even more deadly consequence of climate change lurks in the background: increased toxic chemical exposure. In a collection of studies and scientific reviews released earlier this year in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, scientists investigated a wide range of global climate change issues and toxicological impacts on the […]

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Increased Risk of Endometriosis Linked to Persistent Pesticides

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2013) A study released this week established a strong connection between endometriosis and exposure to two dangerous pesticides: lindane and mirex. While the results are not surprising given past connections between these pesticides and their endocrine-disrupting effects, this new study, Organochlorine Pesticides and Risk of Endometriosis: Findings from a Population-Based Case-Control Study, is one of the first to examine the association between organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and endometriosis, one of the most common gynecological diseases, in women in the general population. The study’s authors, Kristen Upson, Ph.D. et al,  explained to Environmental Health Perspectives, “Our study suggests that exposure from extensive past use of environmentally persistent OCPs in the United States, or present use in other countries may impact the health of the current generation of reproductive-age women with regard to a hormonally-mediated disease.” In conducting the study, researchers selected a group of women with surgically-confirmed cases of endometriosis from the greater Pacific Northwest area. This group of women was then divided into four groups, based on the level of pesticide in each woman’s blood. Women in the second-highest exposure group for beta-hexacyclochlorohexane (beta-HCH), a byproduct of lindane, had a 70 percent greater risk of endometriosis than […]

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Multi-generational Effects of DDT Linked to Obesity

Monday, October 28th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2013) Scientists at Washington State University (WSU), in a laboratory study,  determined that exposure to the insecticide DDT ””banned in the U.S. since 1972, but still used today in developing countries for malaria abatement programs””impacts multiple generations, ultimately contributing to obesity three generations down the line. The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, provides the scientific community with new information on multi-generational impacts of pesticide exposure. Lead researcher Michael Skinner, PhD., professor of biological sciences at WSU, and colleagues exposed pregnant rats to DDT to determine the long-term impacts to health across generations. The study, Ancestral dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) exposure promotes epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of obesity, finds that the first generation of rats’ offspring developed severe health problems, ranging from kidney disease, prostate disease, and ovary disease, to tumor development. Interestingly, by the third generation more than half of the rats have increased levels of weight gain and fat storage. In other words, the great grandchildren of the exposed rats are much more likely to be obese. “Therefore, your ancestors’ environmental exposures may influence your disease development even though you have never had a direct exposure,” the study finds. Previous studies have demonstrated that exposure to […]

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Banned Pesticides Threaten Illinois River Otters

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, October, 16 2013)   Researchers at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the University of Illinois Urbana—Champaign have found that organochlorine pesticides and other organochlorine compounds like polychlorinated biphenyls (PBCs) are still contaminating river otters in the state, even though these chemicals have been banned for decades. Surprisingly, the levels detected are the same or higher than those detected in otters 20 years ago, highlighting the need to understand the exposure of wildlife and humans to organochlorine compounds despite their ban. In order to see what chemicals might be affecting otters, if any, the researchers examined the bodies of 23 river otters collected between 2009 and 2011. In the published study, River otters as biomonitors for organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and PBDEs in Illinois,  scientists looked at liver concentrations of 20 organohalogenated compounds once used in agriculture and industry. The average concentrations of dieldrin, an insecticide that was used across the Midwest before being banned in 1987, actually exceeded those measured in river otters collected from 1984 to 1989. Liver concentrations of PCBs and DDE -a breakdown product of the banned DDT – were also similar to those in an earlier study showing that contamination has not decreased […]

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Is Long Banned DDT Still Threatening Endangered Birds?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2013) DDT, a pesticide banned in 1972, is behind the mystery surrounding the reproductive problems of dozens of endangered condors. This is according to a peer-reviewed paper written by 10 condor experts, including biologists from the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara zoos and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The researchers, who spent six years studying the reproductive problems, including eggshell thinning, in California condors have “established a strong link” to DDT in the birds’ food source. Condors are large scavenger birds with wingspans up to 10 feet and were reintroduced to California’s coast in 1997 after a century-long population decline. However, in 2006 biologists began observing thinning shells in many condor nests. Over the next six years, scientists observed condors feeding on dozens of sea lions, and found that in Big Sur, California, condor populations had low hatching success ”” just 20-40 percent. In contrast, 70-80 percent of southern California condors in the Tejon area had hatched successfully over the same time. The southern California condors are inland, and sea lions are not a food source. According to the study published in the journal, The Condor, the outer crystalline layer of shells was absent or […]

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