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EPA’s Proposed Endocrine Disrupting Pesticide Review Called Deficient

Monday, February 5th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2024) Public Comment Period Ends February 26, 2024. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) never completed protocol for testing pesticides that disrupt the fundamental functioning of organisms, including humans, causing a range of chronic adverse health effects that defy the common misconception that dose makes the poison (“a little bit won’t hurt you”)—when, in fact, minuscule doses (exposure) wreak havoc with biological systems. After a nearly two decade defiance of a federal mandate to institute pesticide registration requirements for endocrine disruptors, EPA has now opened a public comment period ending February 26, 2024 and advocates are criticizing the agency’s proposed evaluation as too narrow. A detailed examination of EPA’s proposal can be found in draft comments by Beyond Pesticides.  Endocrine disruption as a phenomenon affecting humans and other species has been critically reviewed by many authors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can, even at extremely low exposure levels, disrupt normal hormonal (endocrine) function. Such endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC) include many pesticides, exposures to which have been linked to infertility and other reproductive disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and early puberty, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and childhood and adult cancers. EPA […]

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The Fallacy of Glyphosate Exemptions Demonstrates the Importance of Sound Science on Hazards and Solutions

Tuesday, January 30th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2024) The City Council of Brighton and Hove (England) is preparing to expand the use of glyphosate after widespread public complaints over the growth of Japanese knotweed and a program of manual clearance. This imminent local land management decision flies in the face of substantial research on the health and ecological impacts of glyphosate-based herbicides, including from Aaron Blair, PhD—former chair of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group on glyphosate and former branch chief (now scientist emeritus) of the Occupational Studies Section, National Cancer Institute (NCI). Advocates are concerned that the city council is basing this rationale on the fact that the European Commission reapproved use of glyphosate in 2023 for a ten-year period and not the body of scientific literature on health and ecosystem effects as well as alternative practices and products. According to a recent ENDS Report, “The [City of Brighton and Hove] council banned the use of glyphosate in 2019 – with an exception for killing invasive species [‘in exceptional cases’] such as Japanese Knotweed – after it was linked to health concerns and a decline in bee populations. As part of this it was agreed that the removal […]

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Field Study of Bumble Bees Finds Exposure to Chemical Mixtures, High Hazard, Flawed Regulation

Tuesday, January 9th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2024) A “landscape-level” study finds that typical risk assessment studies used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and European regulators fail to “safeguard bees and other pollinators that support agricultural production and wild plant pollination.” The study, published in Nature (November 2023), evaluates the health of bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) as a sentinel species placed in 106 agricultural landscapes across Europe. The authors’ conclusions challenge “the current assumption of pesticide regulation—that chemicals that individually pass laboratory tests and semifield trials are considered environmentally benign”—calling into question EPA’s persistent failure to adequately regulate mixtures of chemicals to which organisms are exposed in the real world. This study adds to the body of science on pesticide mixtures adversely affecting bee and pollinator health. See here, here, and here. The failure to capture real-world exposure to pesticide mixtures in its regulatory assessments extends to EPA’s systemic failure to evaluate a range of serious adverse impacts, as noted by the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report. And, aquatic environments also have documented mixtures of pesticides, with the U.S. Geological Survey finding 90 percent of water samples containing at least five or more different pesticides. “We can take no comfort […]

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Low-Dose Chronic Glyphosate Exposure Increases Diet-Induced Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Thursday, December 21st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2023) A new study published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology adds to prior research indicating glyphosate promotes the occurrence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) through diet by causing liver inflammation and oxidative stress. More importantly, the predisposition for NAFLD occurred at levels within toxicological limits, which are doses of glyphosate classified as causing no adverse effects or No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL). NAFLD is a condition that causes swelling of the liver and can eventually lead to cirrhosis, cancer, or liver failure. This study highlights the Westernized diet (WD), comprised of foods enriched in saturated fats, cholesterol, and simple carbohydrates (e.g., fructose, glucose, and sucrose), plays a role in the nearly 40 percent increased risk of NAFLD. Although glyphosate disrupts gut microbes and induces liver inflammation, oxidative stress, and fatty acid levels that promote NAFLD, the combination of WD and glyphosate reduces the threshold risk for NAFLD development. NAFLD is a growing worldwide epidemic, becoming the most prevalent form of liver disease and impacting at least 25 percent of the globe. Therefore, studies like this shed light on how diet and chemical exposure can work synergistically (together) to exacerbate disease risk. The study evaluates whether choric […]

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Int’l Group of Scientists Calls for Restraints on Conflicts of Interest in Publications and Regulation

Friday, December 15th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2023) Drawing on a recent gathering of international scientists, a group of 34 scientists published a call for much stricter scrutiny of researchers’ conflicts of interest by agencies that regulate and register chemicals, with recommendations for the newly formed Intergovernmental Science Policy Panel. Writing in Environmental Science & Technology, the authors, led by Andreas Schäffer of Aachen University in Germany and Martin Scheringer of Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, cite an abundance of examples of chemical companies and their trade associations manufacturing doubt via an array of techniques, resulting in agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dropping certain provisions from rulemaking, ignoring scientific consensus, and keeping chemicals on the market—and in the environment—that many scientists say should be entirely banned. The authors produced the article in response to this webinar to discuss how to ensure that U.N. panels dealing with global crises get the most sound scientific advice conducted by the International Panel on Chemical Pollution. Over the last four decades or so, the notion that conflicts of interest affect the validity of scientific research and professional opinions has been steadily eroded. Regulators wallow in compromised research, hamstrung by political pressure and […]

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Paraquat—The Continuing Environmental Threat Among All Species

Thursday, December 7th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2023) A new review published in Ecotoxicology reiterates what past studies have repeatedly stated: the herbicide paraquat (PQ) has profound adverse effects on wildlife at environmentally relevant concentrations. Moreover, these adverse effects span beyond the wilderness, as exposure to this highly toxic herbicide also impacts the health of people working with this chemical (e.g., pesticide applicators) or living adjacent to areas of chemical use. Current data gaps regarding the effects of environmentally relevant concentrations and exposure times, population- or ecosystem-level effects, and biomagnification potential contribute to the uncertainty of predicting risk from environmental PQ exposure. Furthermore, Beyond Pesticides has previously pointed out deficiencies in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ecological risk assessments for paraquat, highlighting failures to perform complete evaluations of the impacts of pesticides on threatened and endangered species. All this occurs amid documented threats to biodiversity from the combined effects of pesticides and climate change.  The review investigated paraquat in the environment, the chemical’s toxicity to nontarget species, and significant data gaps. Overall, the long-term risks of environmental PQ contamination for human and ecological communities can be challenging since the potential chronic effects from extended use are nearly unstudied. Most concerning is that PQ is […]

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EPA To Allow Genetically-Based Pesticides, Incomplete Testing, and Documented Adverse Effects

Friday, October 27th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2023) In a typical move, EPA proposes to greenlight a type of genetic engineering to solve a problem created by the industrial paradigm for pest control, i.e. vast acreages of monoculture treated with millions of tons of toxic pesticides leading to rapid resistance among crop pests. In this case EPA wants to approve using a nucleic acid—double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)–called “interfering RNA,” or RNAi—to silence a gene crucial to the survival of the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB), the scourge of potato farmers around the world. But EPA has skipped over important steps in its decision-making process and rushed to judgment. Like chemical pesticides, genetically-based pesticides are regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In 2020, Massachusetts-based GreenLight Biosciences applied for registration of its RNAi active ingredient, Ledprona, and its end-use product, Calantha. The company executive heading the effort is an alumnus of Monsanto and several other major chemical companies. Last May EPA granted GreenLight an Experimental Use Permit (EUP) authorizing field studies in states that produce tons of potatoes. A mere five months later, EPA announced its decision to approve the registration based almost entirely on incomplete EUP data and giving the public very […]

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Study Further Strengthens Link Between Common Insecticide Class and Psychiatric Disorders

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2023) A study published in Environmental Pollution finds farming and organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposure are risk factors for depression, with pesticide poisoning being a risk factor for suicidal behavior. Additionally, psychiatric disorder prognosis affects men more than women, with depression and suicidal outcomes more common among pesticide-exposed males. Age also affected depression and suicidal consequences, with elevated rates among older farmers. Research on pesticide-induced diseases commonly investigates pesticide exposure concerning the development of various physical illnesses. However, previous studies show that occupational (work-related) risks of developing depression are high in agriculture, where pesticide use is widespread. Acute exposure to chemicals, including organophosphate, organochlorine, triazine, and carbamate pesticides, tends to put farmers at elevated risk. More study is needed on pesticide exposure and similar psychological (psychiatric) effects in the general population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects 322 million people globally, with the number of diagnosed patients increasing by 18.4% from 2005 to 2015. Although the etiology of depression—and many other psychiatric disorders—is often genetic, studies suggest that other etiological factors, like pesticide exposure, play a role in depression incidents. Poor mental health has a tangible influence on physical health (e.g., depression and cardiovascular disease); therefore, the combination of pesticide exposure […]

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Pollution-Associated Liver Disease with Sex-Specific Effects Linked to Persistent Legacy Insecticide, Chlordane

Wednesday, October 4th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2023) A study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology finds acute exposure to chlordane, an organochlorine insecticide, results in decreased lipid (fat) levels, altered anti-oxidant capacity, and increased testosterone levels (pro-androgenic) in male mice, while increasing liver enzyme activation and reducing regulation of both liver identity and function in females. These findings indicate that chlordane induces toxicant-associated steatosis (fat retention) liver disease (TASLD) with underlying, sex-specific, endocrine, and metabolic effects. It is well-known that traces of legacy (past-use) pesticides, like organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), remain in the environment for decades—possibly centuries, post-final application, as OCPs have greater chemical stability and gradual attenuation. However, these chemicals have profound adverse impacts on human health, especially on the endocrine system. Obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and elevated liver enzymes resulting from endocrine disruption contribute to liver diseases and can lead to liver cirrhosis. Although some, but not all, manufacturing and use of specific OCPs have declined in the U.S., OCPs remain a global issue, as much of the developing world still report usage. Considering the lack of studies on OCP-induced endocrine disruption, TASLD, and other liver diseases, research like this highlights the need to understand the underlying mechanisms contributing to […]

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EPA Reverses on Decision to Ban Flea Collars with Toxic Pesticide, Leaving Children at Risk

Friday, September 29th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2023) In unsurprising news, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reversed itself and decided not to ban a dangerous pesticide: tetrachlorovenphos (TCVP) used in pet flea collars and other flea products. This is despite its own earlier decision to ban TCVP in pet collars and scathing criticism of its methods and conclusions by the courts. First registered in 1966, TCVP belongs to the notoriously toxic organophosphate chemical family and is classified by the World Health Organization as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” It was originally registered to Shell Chemical, then to E.I. duPont de Nemours, then to Hartz Mountain Corporation and Fermenta Animal Health Company.  Early on, it was registered for use on food crops and livestock, but the crop uses were voluntarily de-registered in 1987. It is still widely used on pets and farm animals. In 1995, EPA issued the opinion that “all uses of tetrachlorvinphos, with the exception of oral feed-through larvicide treatment to livestock intended for food use, will not cause unreasonable risk to humans or the environment.” Since then, the agency has contorted itself repeatedly to allow TCVP to remain on the market. There is little research available on TCVP’s human health effects; the […]

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Pollinator Health: The Climate Crisis Weakens Bees’ Ability to Withstand Pesticide Exposure

Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2023) A study published in Global Change Biology finds climate change increases bees’ sensitivity to pesticide exposure, impairing the pollinators’ ability to respond to light (Ultra-Violet [UV] stimuli), reducing floral syrup consumption, and lessening longevity (length of life) up to 70 percent. Notably, the reduction in floral syrup consumption indicates nutritional stress that further impacts bee species’ fecundity (productiveness), driving bee declines. Unless more is done to combat the climate crisis, the current global warming scenario increasing bees’ sensitivity to pesticide exposure will continue to threaten all pollinator health. The pervasiveness of pesticide exposure, combined with climate change, threatens global species biodiversity. As has been widely reported, pollinators (such as bees, monarch butterflies, and bats) are a bellwether for environmental stress as individuals and as colonies. Pesticides intensify pollinators’ vulnerability to health risks (such as pathogens and parasites), with pesticide-contaminated conditions limiting colony productivity, growth, and survival. The globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk, including pollinators. Pollinator declines directly affect the environment, society, and the economy. Without pollinators, many agricultural and nonagricultural plant species will decline or cease to exist as U.S. pollinator declines, particularly […]

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Study Finds Glyphosate Exposure Among the General Population Poses a Risk to Neurological Health

Thursday, August 31st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2023) A study published in Environmental Research finds glyphosate levels in the body adversely affect neurological health. Specifically, oral intake (e.g., eating contaminated foods), inhalation, and dermal exposure to glyphosate lowered cognitive function scores, heightened likelihood of severe depressive symptoms, and impaired auditory (hearing) function. Thus, this study provides some of the first evidence linking glyphosate exposure to specific neurological health outcomes among the general U.S. population, indicating the need for further studies on mechanisms driving neurotoxicity and the medical significance over time. Although this study is among the first to highlight specific neurological effects from glyphosate exposure among the general population, this study is not the first to identify potential neurotoxicity from glyphosate exposure. (Previous research cited below.) The ubiquity of glyphosate uses in agriculture—which leaves residues of the toxic chemical in food—and in public areas (e.g., parks, and walkways) may mean that exposures to it represent a significant risk factor for the disease. Glyphosate is already implicated or proven in developing numerous health anomalies, including cancer. The neurological system, including the brain, spinal cord, and a vast network of nerves and neurons, is responsible for many bodily functions—from sensation to movement. However, pesticides play various roles in […]

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Pollinator Health: Common Fungicide Linked to Changes in Honey Bees’ Brain through Oxidative Stress

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2023) A study published in Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology finds the widely used azole fungicide, tebuconazole, has damaging impacts on the redox homeostasis (the process of maintaining balance between oxidizing and reducing reactions) and fatty acid composition in honey bees’ brain via oxidative stress. Acute, field-realistic sublethal exposure to tebuconazole decreased the brain’s antioxidant capacity, key antioxidant defense systems, and oxidative degradation and alteration of lipids (fats) in the brain. Thus, this study adds to the scientific literature on the adverse effects of chemical exposure on pollinator health, especially in sublethal concentrations. Degenerating cognitive skills can threaten honey bee survivability, decreasing colony fitness and individual foraging success. Much research attributes the decline of insect pollinators (e.g., commercial and wild bees and monarch butterflies) over the last several decades to the interaction of multiple environmental stressors, from climate change to pesticide use, disease, habitat destruction, and other factors. Pollinator declines directly affect the environment, society, and the economy. Without pollinators, many plant species, both agricultural and nonagricultural, will decline or cease to exist, as U.S. pollinator declines, particularly among native wild bees, depress crop yields. In turn, the economy will take a hit, since much of the economy (65%) depends upon the […]

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Serious Water Contamination from Pesticides Used on Pets, Ignored by Regulators, Again Confirmed

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2023) The use of pesticides on pets for fleas and ticks (parasiticides) has been traced to environmental contamination in a study that confirms earlier work both by the authors and internationally, according to researchers Rosemary Perkins, a veterinary surgeon, and David Goulson, PhD at the University of Sussex. The results are published in their recent study, “To flea or not to flea: survey of UK companion animal ectoparasiticide usage and activities affecting pathways to the environment,” which concludes that, “[T]he potential cumulative impact of parasiticide emissions [into the environment] from many millions of pets treated multiple times each year is of serious concern.” The UK provides an opportunity to pinpoint water contamination from pet use for ectoparasites (e.g., fleas and ticks) of hazardous pesticides since, unlike in the U.S., the country has banned outdoor use of those chemicals commonly detected—the insecticides fipronil and imidacloprid (the same neonicotinoid bug killer tied to devastating losses of bees and other organisms). These findings confirm the historical peer reviewed scientific literature and defy the assumption of regulators that home or veterinary use of pesticides do not reach levels of concern for environmental contamination, either through exposure from down-the-drain (DTD) contamination […]

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Illness Tied to Petrochemicals’ Impact on Body’s Essential Mast Cells (immune system regulators), Study Finds

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2023

A recently completed study (available in preprint before peer review) identifies the development of what the authors term Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT), the constellation of symptoms associated with chemical exposures.

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Pesticide Exposure with Disproportionate Effects Increases Risk of Asthma

Wednesday, August 16th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2023) A study published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research further supports the indication that exposure to organophosphate insecticides (OPs) increases the risk of asthma among the U.S. general population. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “The burden of asthma in the United States falls disproportionately on people with low-income, senior adults, and Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native people,” making these groups more susceptible to developing this chronic lung disease upon OP exposure.   Organophosphorus pesticides have a wide range of biological uses—from insecticides to flame retardants—that make these chemicals ubiquitous, significantly contributing to ecosystem contamination. Furthermore, while organophosphates have less bioaccumulation potential, residues are consistently present in human and animal blood, urine, tissues, and milk. Although research demonstrates that OPs are highly toxic, there remains an inadequate understanding of how OP exposure impacts body systems like the repository system. The respiratory system is essential to human survival, regulating gas exchange (oxygen-carbon dioxide) in the body to balance acid and base tissue cells for normal function. However, damage to the respiratory system can cause several issues—from asthma and bronchitis to oxidative stress that triggers the development of extra-respiratory manifestations like rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the rise in respiratory illnesses and organophosphate […]

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Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origins Linked to Indoor Pesticide Use, Disproportionally Affecting Women

Tuesday, August 8th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 8, 2023) A study published in PLOS ONE finds a pointed, positive association between chronic kidney disease (CKD) of unknown origins (CKDu) and the use of indoor pesticides. Longer exposure times have an especially detrimental impact on kidney function, even among individuals without underlying diseases like diabetes mellitus and hypertension. The innovation of this study’s purpose highlights the lack of exposure-related studies on kidney health outcomes associated with indoor pesticide use. Although CKD risk increases with age and is associated with other health factors like smoking, heart disease, and diabetes, cases without clear causes are increasingly common, indicating that environmental factors are likely playing a role. Over six million people in the U.S. have kidney disease (i.e., nephritis [kidney inflammation], nephrotic syndrome [improper protein filtration], and nephrosis). Although many studies find an association between exposure to outdoor environmental contaminants like pesticides and CKD, the association between CKDu and indoor pesticides—whose uses are more commonly concentrated in homes— remains unclear. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need for comprehensive information regarding co-occurring exposure patterns and disease prevalence that can have global implications.  The study notes, “Previous research has highlighted the potential harm of pesticides on kidney function, particularly in outdoor uses. Our findings raise […]

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The Growing Insecticide Resistance Issue Increases Concerns Over Deadly Disease Transmission Through Mosquitos

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 2, 2023) A study published in Pest Management Science finds resistance to insecticides like pyrethroids are challenging attempts to control the mosquito Aedes aegypti (Ae. aegypti), the primary transmitter (vector) of dengue fever. While this study takes place in Bangladesh, resistance to biocides—whether to antibiotics, antimicrobials, or pesticides—is growing globally. Prevention of disease outbreaks is threatened by reliance on chemical biocides to which pathogens and their vectors develop resistance. In fact, resistance is predicted by elementary population genetics, and the speed of its evolution is directly related to the toxicity—that is, the strength of selection pressure—and inversely related to the generation length of the organism. (See PAY articles here and here, a PBS article here.) Insecticide resistance has been an issue since the introduction of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) in the 1940s. Although most countries currently ban DDT use, the compound is not the only chemical pesticide promoting pest resistance. Several current-use insecticides pose the same threat. Areawide, indiscriminate spraying of insecticides is causing resistance to develop among many pests. Mosquitoes have become increasingly resistant to synthetic pyrethroids, in addition to other classes of insecticides, such as carbamates and organophosphates. Thus, this study demonstrates the need for sustainable and practical strategies […]

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Study Confirms Continued Bird Decline as EPA Fails to Restrict Neonicotinoid Insecticides

Friday, July 21st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2023) A comprehensive and scathing report, “Neonicotinoid insecticides: Failing to come to grips with a predictable environmental disaster,” issued by American Bird Conservancy (ABC)in June, lays out the dire consequences of neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides’ continued use. The report is an update of an earlier review from 2013, which warned of the risks to birds, stating starkly: “A single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid can kill a songbird. Even a tiny grain of wheat or canola treated with the oldest neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, can poison a bird. As little as 1/10th of a corn seed per day during egg-laying season is all that is needed to affect reproduction with any of the neonicotinoids registered to date.” The story of neonic harm is one that has been repeated for generations with different pesticides. Pesticide manufacturers claim every new generation of their products is safer and more environmentally benign than the previous one. This is seldom true. There is ample evidence that pesticides pose threats to nearly every class of organism on Earth, from earthworms to elephants. The neonicotinoids, introduced in the early 1990s, have been marketed as safe for vertebrates, non-bioaccumulative, and, because of their flexible application methods […]

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Deadly Pesticide Poses an Increased Risk of Hormone-Associated Reproductive Cancers in Women

Thursday, July 13th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2023) A study published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research finds exposure to p-Dichlorobenzene (p-DCB), a chlorophenol compound with uses as an insecticide, disinfectant, repellent, fumigant, fungicide, and deodorizer, can increase the risk of common endocrine (hormone)-mediated reproductive cancers (i.e., breast, uterine, and ovarian) in women. P-DCB or paradichlorobenzene has carcinogenic (cancer-causing) properties and the chemical has been banned in the European Union (EU) since 2005 for air fresheners and 2008 for mothballs. Being a chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbon (with benzene) compound (chlorobenzene), in addition to its cancer-causing properties, p-DCB can cause acute illnesses like headaches, numbness, sleepiness, nausea and vomiting and chronic effects like nervous system disorders leading to depression, and impact on the brain, birth outcomes, reproductive system, liver, and kidneys. Pesticides have a long history associated with endocrine-disrupting properties that induce various molecular changes, prompting disease development. Adding to the science, a similar review published in Environmental Exposure, Biomonitoring, and Exposure Assessment highlights how specific estrogen-mimicking pesticides increase the risk of disease, particularly hormone-related cancers among women (e.g., breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer) and men (i.e., testicular, prostate cancer).PDCB, also known as para-dichlorobenzene, contains the carcinogen benzene and is chlorine-based (a chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbon compound), which in December 2019 […]

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Cultivating with Natural Predators Gets Farmers Off the Pesticide Treadmill, According to Study

Wednesday, July 12th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, July 12, 2023) A study by University of Delaware entomologist Thabu Mugala and colleagues finds that modifications to their farming methods can reduce slug damage when those changes also encourage natural slug predators, allowing farmers to avoid the endless cycle of pesticide dependency, pest resistance, genetically engineered crops, and synthetic fertilizers. With insects as the target for tens of millions of pounds of agricultural use, growers of the highest-production crops in the U.S., corn and soybeans, continue to find slugs to be a serious problem. Corn and soybean growers who have adopted no-till or conservation tillage and cover crops often think these practices worsen the problem by increasing moisture and decaying plant material in fields, which slugs love. But the cause-and-effect picture is more nuanced and requires strategies that nurture ecological balance. Slugs are the most damaging non-arthropod pest in no-till corn production in the U.S., and truly effective chemical deterrents do not exist at agricultural scale, as Beyond Pesticides noted here, although biological methods may be on the horizon, such as a parasitic nematode already used in Europe that shows promise. The most voracious natural slug hunters are ground beetles, but harvestmen (daddy longlegs), and wolf spiders […]

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Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides Have Links to Behavior

Thursday, July 6th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, July 6, 2023) A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds concentrations of organophosphate (OP) metabolites in urine during the prenatal phase have links to adolescent/young adult externalizing (e.g., hyperactivity, aggression, attention problems) and internalizing (e.g., depression) behavior problems. Thus, prenatal exposure to OP pesticides can permanently affect behavioral health as children mature into adulthood. This study adds to the growing body of research reinforcing the adverse effects of organophosphate (OP) exposure on cognitive health and neurological development, especially for infants and children. Prenatal development is one of the most vulnerable periods of exposure, as the fetus is most susceptible to the harmful effects of chemical contaminants. Many studies indicate that prenatal and early-life exposure to environmental toxicants increases susceptibility to diseases, from learning and developmental disabilities to cancer. Given research links to pesticide exposure and neurological and cognitive development, studies like this can help government and health officials identify how pesticides’ impact on the brain elevates health concerns.  Researchers gathered two urine samples from mothers during pregnancy (at weeks 13 and 26) and five urine samples from offspring from the ages of six months to five years old to measure urinary dialkylphosphates (DAPs) (nonspecific OP metabolites). Subsequently, the study also assesses reports of […]

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Study Elevates the Connection Between Pesticides, the Gut-Brain Axis, and Disease

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2023) Pesticides interfere with biological processes. This is their purpose. Unfortunately, they nearly always have unintended consequences, many of which have been ignored by their manufacturers. A new review article by Irish and Dutch researchers in the ISME Journal adds to the emerging scientific literature examining how pesticides affect the relationship between the human gut and the human brain (the “gut-brain axis”). Often called the “second brain” because it houses nerve cells and produces neurotransmitters, the gut-brain axis may be the most important locus where microbes and pesticides meet. The human gut plays host to a variety of microorganisms, ranging from bacteria and archaea to fungi, viruses and yeasts.[1] In a healthy person these microbes remain in balance and often cooperate both with each other and with human cells. The gut and the brain are deeply integrated through the vagus nerve and the neuroendocrine system. The vagus nerve is a treelike bundle of fibers extending from the lower part of the brain to nearly every body organ, but particularly the heart, lungs and digestive tract. The neuroendocrine system comprises specialized cells inhabiting nearly all the organs of the body that respond to signals from the brain […]

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