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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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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 ‚Äúrainbow herbicides,‚ÄĚ such as Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam war, it is the dioxin TCDD (2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzodioxin), a byproduct of Agent Orange‚Äôs 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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Evaluation Used to Support Registration of Neurotoxic Chlorpyrifos Found To Be Fundamentally Flawed

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2018) Scientific conclusions used to support the registration of the insecticide chlorpyrifos were flawed and omitted key health impacts, according to a fresh analysis of the original data by a team of independent scientists from northern Europe and the U.S. This re-review not only casts further doubt on the safety of the neurotoxic chlorpyrifos, it highlights a major flaw within federal pesticide regulation that allows pesticide producers to submit their own safety evaluations to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency without public oversight. “One conclusion we draw is that there is a risk that the results of industry-funded toxicity tests are not reported correctly,” says co-author Axel Mie, PhD. “This makes it difficult for the authorities to evaluate the pesticides in a safe and valid way.” In both the U.S. and European Union, pesticide producers contract with laboratories to perform required safety tests of active ingredients they hope to register for use. While these studies are generally considered ‚Äėconfidential business information‚Äô and not available to the public, using Swedish freedom of information laws, researchers were able to obtain two key studies relating to the developmental neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos. Although not disclosed within the study, it is well […]

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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 ‚ÄúThe legacy of pesticides and POPs stockpiles ‚ÄĒ a threat to health and the environment.‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äúchemical time bomb‚ÄĚ 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‚Äď7 million tons of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) waste from lindane production; and the 240,000 […]

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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. ‚ÄúDioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science,‚ÄĚ noted ERF attorney Fredric Evenson to KPIX 5. ¬†‚ÄúThis 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‚Äôs wildlife and residents who eat locally caught seafood.‚ÄĚ As part of the settlement, PG&E is not required to admit any wrongdoing. ‚ÄúBecause environmental stewardship is a guiding principle at PG&E, we are pleased […]

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Vietnam Demands Compensation from Monsanto for Devastating Harm Caused by Agent Orange During War

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, September 4, 2018) Close on the heels of the recent landmark California decision against Monsanto, maker of the glyphosate-based pesticide Roundup, Vietnam has demanded that the company pay damages to the many victims of its Agent Orange herbicide and defoliant, which Monsanto supplied to the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. (Monsanto was not the only U.S. manufacturer of the compound; there were nine in total.) U.S. forces, in a program dubbed Operation Ranch Hand, used more than 13 million gallons of the compound in Vietnam ‚ÄĒ nearly one-third of the 20 million gallons of all herbicides used during the war in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In Vietnam alone, 4.5 million acres were impacted by Agent Orange. Nguyen Phuong Tra, a spokesperson for Vietnam‚Äôs foreign ministry, said, ‚ÄúThe [U.S.] verdict serves as a legal precedent which refutes previous claims that the herbicides made by Monsanto and other chemical corporations in the U.S. and provided for the U.S. army in the war are harmless. . . . Vietnam has suffered tremendous consequences from the war, especially with regard to the lasting and devastating effects of toxic chemicals, including Agent Orange.‚ÄĚ Around the world, the U.S. case may be sparking […]

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FDA Stops Medical Uses of Triclosan in Hospitals, Other Disinfectants to Stay Despite No Safety and Efficacy Data on Controlling Bacteria

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, January 2, 2018) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 19, 2017 announced it was removing from the market 24 over-the-counter (OTC) disinfectants or antimicrobial ingredients, including triclosan, used by health care providers primarily in medical settings like hospitals, health care clinics, and doctors‚Äô offices. The agency took this action because the chemical industry did not respond to a 2015 request for data to support a finding of ‚Äúgenerally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE).‚ÄĚ The decision, which follows a 2016 FDA decision to remove OTC consumer soap products with triclosan for the same reason, leaves numerous consumer products (fabrics and textiles, sponges, undergarments, cutting boards, hair brushes, toys, prophylactics, other plastics, etc.) on the market with triclosan (often labeled as microban) under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The December decision leaves in commerce six antiseptic compounds widely used in the hospital and medical setting, in response to industry requests for more time to develop safety and efficacy data. In what appears to contradict FDA‚Äôs finding that it does not have sufficient data to make a GRASE finding for antiseptic products used in the health care and medical setting, the agency is leaving […]

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Veterans’ Coverage of Agent Orange-Related Diseases Delayed

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2017) Vietnam veterans suffering from certain Agent Orange-related health conditions will continue to wait for compensation. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin announced last week he intends to delay a decision to expand coverage to new illnesses. Despite a robust review by the National Academy of Medicine, which recommended expanding disability compensation for bladder cancer, hyopothyroidism, high blood pressure, and Parkinson‚Äôs-like tremors due to past exposure to the toxic herbicide cocktail, the VA decided to take no action. ‚ÄúAfter thoroughly reviewing the National Academy of Medicine (NAM)‚Äôs latest report regarding Veterans and Agent Orange, and associated data and recommendations from the NAM Task Force, I have made a decision to further explore new presumptive conditions for service connection that may ultimately qualify for disability compensation,‚Ä̬† Secretary Shulkin said in a press release last week.¬† ‚ÄúI appreciate NAM‚Äôs work and the commitment and expertise of VA‚Äôs NAM Task Force, and look forward to working with the Administration on the next steps in the process.‚ÄĚ Given a promise from VA Secretary Shulkin to provide a decision on the new ailments by November 1st, Veterans groups are crying foul, and placing blame on the Trump administration, […]

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Government and Chemical Industry Collusion Going Back Decades Showcased in ‚ÄúPoison Papers‚ÄĚ

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 1, 2017) A collection of long archived documents dating back to the 1920s were released last week showcasing the efforts of the chemical industry and the federal government to conceal from the public the real dangers associated with the use and manufacture of chemical products. The¬†Bioscience Resource Project¬†and the¬†Center for Media and Democracy¬†released more than 200,000 pages of these documents now accessible on the ‚ÄúPoison Papers‚ÄĚ website. First reported in The Intercept, the project, ‚ÄúPoison Papers,‚ÄĚ makes publicly available documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others. Activist Carol Van Strum stored much of these documents in her rural Oregon barn. Ms. Van Strum’s activism on pesticides and other toxic chemicals began in the mid-1970s, when she and her neighbors in Oregon filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service to stop the spraying of 2,4,5-T, a dangerously toxic herbicide that made up one-half of the¬†ingredients in the deadly Agent Orange¬†(the other ingredient was the still widely used herbicide 2,4-D). The spraying directly doused her four children, who developed headaches, nosebleeds, and bloody diarrhea. Miscarriages […]

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Chemical Companies Knowingly Allowed Carcinogenic Contaminant in Common Pesticide

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2017) Multinational chemical companies Dow Chemical Company and Shell Chemical Company knowingly sold and marketed fumigants contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical that had a strong propensity to leach into and remain in groundwater, according to a¬†recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and a lawsuit against the companies. The contaminant of concern, 1,2,3-trichloropropene (TCP), was a manufacturing by-product found in Dow‚Äôs Telone¬†and Shell‚Äôs D-D fumigant pesticide products with the active ingredient 1,3-Dichloropropene. The products, used to kill soil-dwelling nematodes, are toxic in their own right, but contained TCP in their formulation from the 1940s until the mid-1980s. EWG‚Äôs report details widespread contamination of drinking water in California‚Äôs agricultural regions, with detections found in 562 wells, and 94 public water systems identifying TCP above legal limits. Thirty-seven additional public water systems serving nearly 4 million U.S. residents throughout the country were also found to contain TCP. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never set maximum contaminant levels for TCP in drinking water, but requires public reporting above the infinitesimally small amount of 30 parts per trillion, roughly six times higher than what the state of California requires. However, even proposed limits of 5 parts per trillion […]

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International Legal Opinion Details Monsanto’s Violation of Human Rights

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 20, 2017)¬†On Tuesday, the judges presiding over the International Monsanto Tribunal presented their legal opinion, delivering conclusions on the multinational corporation‚Äôs impact on issues ranging from human rights, food access, environmental health, to¬†scientific research. In addition to Monsanto‚Äôs impact on human rights, the judges concluded that if ecocide were recognized as an international criminal law, the corporation would possibly be found guilty. According to the Organic Consumers Association‚Äôs press release, one of the organizing groups behind the creation of the Tribunal, ‚ÄúIt is likely that the [legal] conclusions will lead to more liability cases against Monsanto and similar companies. This will shine a light on the true cost of production and will affect Monsanto (Bayer) shareholder value in the long run.‚ÄĚ The international judges determined that, based on a legal analysis of the questions asked, Monsanto has engaged in practices that have negatively affected the right to a healthy environment, to food, and to health. In addition to these infringement of rights, Monsanto has had a negative effect on the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research with ‚Äúconduct such as intimidation, discrediting independent scientific research, [and] suborning false research reports.‚ÄĚ In the third part of its […]

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U.S. Agriculture Still Using Antibiotics that Cause Bacterial Resistance to Life-Saving Medicines, Problem Eliminated in Organic Production

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2017) A new report identifies antibiotic use in conventional plant and animal agriculture as contributing to bacterial resistance to critical life-saving human medicines and the importance of organic agriculture in eliminating antibiotic use. The report, Agricultural Uses of Antibiotics Escalate Bacterial Resistance, published in the latest issue of Pesticides and You, finds that while antibiotic use in animal agriculture is widely acknowledged as harmful, the use of antibiotics in chemical-intensive crop production also pose unnecessary and significant risks. The World Health Organization in 2016 identified bacterial resistance to antibiotics as ‚Äúone of the biggest threats to global health.‚ÄĚ The report notes that the herbicide glyphosate, one of the most widely used pesticides in the U.S., is patented by its manufacturer, Monsanto, for its antibacterial properties. As a result, glyphosate leads as the most ¬† widely used antibiotic in agriculture and around homes, gardens, schools, and communities in the U.S. Other antibiotics used widely in apple and pear production are oxytetracycline and streptomycin, which is also used in the production of peaches, beans, celery, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. These uses at environmentally relevant levels increase bacterial resistance to important antibiotics in medicine. ‚ÄúResistant bacteria move from farms […]

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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 ‚Äúbird or animal deformity or reproductive problems‚ÄĚ The study, ‚ÄúConcentrations and spatial patterns of organic contaminants in tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) eggs at United States and binational Great Lakes Areas of Concern, 2010‚ÄĒ2015,‚ÄĚ 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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Feminine Hygiene Products Tainted with Glyphosate, Other Toxic Chemicals

Friday, February 26th, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2016) Feminine care products sold in France may contain ‚Äúpotentially toxic residues,‚ÄĚ according to a study conducted by 60 Millions de Consommateurs, a French consumer rights group. The study finds ¬†traces of chemicals, such as dioxins and insecticides, in 5 of 11 products tested. A separate analysis conducted by Corman, a manufacturer of feminine care products, also finds ¬†residues of the weedkiller glyphosate, which was classified in March 2015 ¬†as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Researchers at 60 Millions ¬†reported finidng traces of halogenated waste, a by-product related to the processing of raw materials, in Tampax Compak Active Regular Fresh tampons. The researchers also detected residues of organochlorine and pyrethroid pesticides, linked to a wide range of adverse health impacts, in some Always sanitary towels. Highly toxic dioxins, which can be cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems and damage the immune system, according to the World Health Organization, were also found in products by OB and the European Nett brands. Corman, which makes Organyc panty liners, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency that it conducted its own analysis that confirmed the trace amounts of glyphosate, the active ingredient […]

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International Case To Be Brought Against Monsanto for Health and Environmental Crimes

Monday, December 7th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, December 07, 2015) Monsanto will be put on trial for crimes against nature, humanity, and ecocide in The Hague, Netherlands, home to the United Nation‚Äôs International Court of Justice. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI), and Millions Against Monsanto, joined by dozens of global food, farming and environmental justice groups announced late last week that they will put the U.S.-based transnational corporation on trial next year on World Food Day, October 16, 2016. The announcement was made at a press conference held in conjunction with the COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, November 30 ‚ÄĒ December 11, in Paris. Monsanto is the producer of Roundup, a widely-used herbicide that contains the active ingredient glyphosate, a chemical that was recently classified as a cancer-causing agent based on laboratory studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO). The corporation has developed and produced many other toxic chemicals, including: Lasso, an herbicide that is now banned in Europe; PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), one of the 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) that affect human and animal fertility; and 2,4,5 T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid), a dioxin-containing […]

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Legislative Proposal for Voluntary Action Fails to Protect Great Lakes from Toxic Runoff

Monday, July 27th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2015) Two Michigan Representatives have introduced the Great Lakes Assurance Program Verification Act (HR 3120) in an effort to halt the pollution of the Great Lakes and other waterways by protecting them from agricultural run-off, which causes dangerous algae blooms ¬≠. While the proposed legislation aims to reduce the effects of pesticides in water, the bill still allows the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and is only a voluntary measure, something that environmentalists says falls short. The bill is sponsored by Candice Miller (R-MI) and co-sponsored by Tim Walberg (R-MI). The bill aims to mimic the state program Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). Adopted in 1999, the MAEAP is a voluntary three-phase program that provides “on-farm verification to ensure the farmer has implemented environmentally sound practices.” This raises two concerns: lack of incentive for farmers to join the program and ambiguous language defining what environmentally sound means. The results of MAEAP are the driving force in the fight for federal Great Lakes legislation, but those numbers do not necessarily speak for themselves. A major goal of the MAEAP is the Farmstead System which, “focuses primarily on protecting surface and ground water” through the safe […]

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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, ‚Äúpossibly carcinogenic to humans.‚ÄĚ IARC also classified lindane, used commonly in the U.S. as a topical lice treatment, in Group 1,‚Äúcarcinogenic to humans‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs most widely used herbicide, glyphosate (Roundup), as ‚Äúprobably carcinogenic to humans,‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs (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 ‚Äúprobable‚ÄĚ 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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Air Force Veterans Who Used Agent Orange Contaminated Aircraft May Be Compensated

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2015) After years of denial and obstruction, Air Force and Air Force Reserve veterans now have the chance to receive compensation for their exposure to the highly toxic herbicide Agent Orange on contaminated aircraft used after the Vietnam War. Affected veteran‚Äôs health issues stem from their time spent on UC-123 transport planes, which during the war were outfitted with spray equipment in the American military‚Äôs attempt to eliminate forest cover for Vietcong fighters. After the war, these aircraft were returned to use in the United States for basic transport operations such as cargo shipping and medical evacuation missions. However, these planes never underwent any form of decontamination or testing before being repurposed. Though the Agent Orange Act of 1991 stipulated medical care and disability coverage for sick veterans who ¬†served in the Vietnam War and were exposed to Agent Orange, those who flew in contaminated post-war planes were deemed ineligible. Prior to this recent announcement from the Department of Veteran‚Äôs affairs, government officials asserted that the ‚Äúdried residues‚ÄĚ of Agent Orange were not likely to pose a health threat to aircraft crew. However, a study published by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine in […]

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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) ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ which usually make decisions by consensus ‚ÄĒ 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‚Äôs own scientific expert committee in which it participated. Switzerland triggered the voting procedure ‚ÄĒ 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. ‚ÄúWe 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,‚ÄĚ 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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Exposure to Hormone Disrupting Chemicals Costs Billions in Lost Brain Power

Friday, March 13th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2015) Exposure to endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals (EDC) results in approximately √Ę‚Äö¬¨ 150 billion ($162 billion) in health care costs in the European Union each year, according to panels of scientists tasked by the EU Commission to study their impact. ‚ÄúThe shocking thing is that the major component of that cost is related to the loss of brain function in the next generation,‚ÄĚ Philippe Grandjean, M.D. of Harvard University, one of the report‚Äôs authors, told the Guardian. EDCs, contained in common household products such as detergents, disinfectants, furniture, plastics, and pesticides, interfere with the body‚Äôs hormone system either by mimicking naturally produced hormones, blocking hormone receptors in cells, or effecting the transport, synthesis, metabolism or excretion of hormones. These impacts can result in devastating effects on one‚Äôs health, including behavioral and learning disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), birth defects, obesity, early puberty, infertility, cardiovascular disease, and childhood and adult cancers. Nearly 100 percent of people have detectable amounts of EDCs in their bodies, according to the introductory guide to EDCs published by the Endocrine Society and IPEN. ‚ÄúOur brains need particular hormones to develop normally ‚ÄĒthe thyroid hormone and sex hormones like testosterone […]

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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‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄĒknown 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: ¬†‚ÄúThis pole contains a hazardous chemical. Avoid prolonged direct contact with this pole. Wash hands or other exposed areas thoroughly if contact is made.‚ÄĚ ¬†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‚Äôs (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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This Giving Season, Donate Before You Shop

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, November 25, 2014) Please put charitable giving first this holiday season, and as you consider your donations, please take a close look at Beyond Pesticides‚Äô program to protect health and the environment. Your support enables us to assist local action informed by the science we provide on pesticide hazards and safe and sustainable alternatives. When you contribute to Beyond Pesticides, you support our core values ‚ÄĒthat we have a right to: (i) clean air, water, and land in our communities, (ii) toxic-free landscapes that are achieved cost-effectively without hazardous synthetic materials, (iii) safe places with reduced chemical threats where children grow up, and; (iv) a healthy ecology where pollinators ‚ÄĒbees, butterflies, and birds and the natural world‚ÄĒ can flourish. With your support, Beyond Pesticides is making tremendous progress advancing toxic-free pesticide policies in local communities and promoting effective organic alternatives in the face of strong chemical industry opposition. >>Please help us pass toxic-free pesticide policies in communities throughout the country by donating today. We had an important victory in the small coastal town of Ogunquit, Maine this past election day, where 60% of voters passed an initiative to ban turf and landscape pesticides on all town lands, public […]

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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. ‚ÄúThis is the beginning of the end of pentachlorophenol,‚ÄĚ said Pam Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. ‚ÄúPentachlorophenol 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.‚ÄĚ 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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