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Disappearance of California Bumble Bees Calls for Urgent Protection of Pollinators Nationwide

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2022) In the first California statewide bumble bee census in 40 years, a University of California—Riverside (UCR) study, published in Ecology and Evolution, reveals that once common bumble bee species in California are disappearing from the ecosystem. Wild pollinators like bumble bees provide pollination to billions of dollars worth of crops each year as these insects can flourish in cooler habitats and lower light levels than commercial honey bees. However, pollinators (such as bees, monarch butterflies, and bats) are a bellwether for environmental stress as individuals and as colonies. Both wild and commercial bees and other pollinators encounter multiple stressors, including pesticides, parasites, and poor nutrition, that act together to increase the risk of bee mortality. Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to establish monitoring and conservation frameworks incorporating varying habitats and species to assess fluctuations in biodiversity. The study notes, “Specifically, our study shows that greater monitoring of the diverse bumble bees of California is needed in order to better understand the drivers of biodiversity and decline in this genus, and to more effectively manage bumble bee conservation in the state.”  Researchers compared data on bumble bee populations in California in 1980 and 2020. After collecting bumble […]

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U.S. Attorneys Bust Pesticide Smuggling Operation, but Online Purchasing Continues

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2022) The ringleader of a pesticide smuggling operation conducted across the United States border with Mexico has been sentenced to eight months in prison by a U.S. District Court Judge. According to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, Sofia Mancera Morales used individuals recruited over social media Bovitraz and Taktic, pesticide products banned in the US that pose hazards to pollinators and cancer risks to humans. “In exchange for ill-begotten profits, this cavalier smuggling operation was more than willing to risk the public’s health and the honeybee industry, which is critical to pollinating our food supply,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. While the Department of Justice deserves praise for this enforcement action, health and environmental advocates say that more must be done to stop illegal pesticide sales. A quick search for the two pesticide products in question brings up webpages, including well-known sites like Etsy.com, where the same illegal pesticides cited in this case are currently being sold to U.S. consumers. Over Facebook, Ms. Morales offered to pay individuals between $40-150 per package of pesticide products they delivered across the border. Those recruited were instructed to open a […]

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Broadscale Devastating Ecological and Health Effects Associated with Herbicide Indaziflam; Ask To Go Organic

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2022)  The climate change-induced increase in wildfire frequency and intensity has lent new urgency to efforts to manage so-called “invasive” plants. Unfortunately, the herbicide-based approach favored by many is both counterproductive and hazardous. It must be replaced by an organic system, incorporating biological control agents like goats and establishing a more resilient ecology.    Tell your county/city officials to replace herbicides with organic vegetation management. Tell EPA and Congress that herbicides must be evaluated in the context of the availability of organic systems. Use of the herbicide indaziflam is an example of the ineffectiveness of management based on herbicides. While indaziflam is considered a “selective” herbicide, it actually kills and prevents germination of a wide range of broad-leaved plants and grasses and comes close to being a soil sterilant. The action on seedlings is long-lasting, thus inhibiting the growth and establishment of a resilient plant community that is resistant to invasion. Given its persistence and nonselective action and the extent of the damage it causes to native soil seed banks and plant biodiversity, indaziflam could contribute to the eventual ecological collapse of ecosystems where it’s applied, similar to the cascading impacts of the systemic insecticides, fipronil and […]

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Contaminated Environment and Chemical Exposure Puts Firefighters at Elevated Risk for Adverse Heart and Brain Effects

Thursday, May 19th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2022) A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association finds a correlation between the number of fires fought annually and atrial fibrillation (AF), one of the most common medical arrhythmias that increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, and other cardiovascular health issues. In the firefighting occupation, firefighters can experience exposure to chemicals and particulate matter in smoke, pollutants, volatile organic compounds, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that increase cardiovascular (heart) and respiratory distress risk through oxidative stress and autonomic function disruption. However, firefighters encounter both personal and occupational (work-related) risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, making this subset of the population particularly vulnerable to heart-related fatalities. Considering firefighters live 10 to 15 years less than non-firefighters, studies like these are significant for understanding how chemical exposure contributes to health and wellness disparities. Lead author Paari Dominic, Ph.D., notes, “Clinicians who care for firefighters need to be aware of the increased cardiovascular risk, especially the increased risk of [AF], among this unique group of individuals… The conditions that elevate their risk further, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, lung disease and sleep apnea, should be treated aggressively. In addition, any symptoms of [AF], such as […]

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Literature Review Adds to the Growing Evidence that Inert Ingredients Are Toxic to Pollinators

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2022) A literature review published in Royal Society finds that ‘inert’ ingredients’ in pesticide formulations adversely affect the health of bees and other wild pollinators. Inert ingredients, also known as “other” ingredients, and not disclosed by name on pesticide product labels, facilitate the action of active ingredients targeting a specific pest. Although both ingredients have chemical and biological activity, most studies on agricultural chemical toxicity focus on the active ingredient, assuming that inert ingredients are “nontoxic.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in regulating pesticides, assesses the toxicity of individual active ingredients on bees through various testing methods. However, there are no requirements for EPA to test inert ingredients to the same degree, despite evidence demonstrating these chemicals harm pollinators. Moreover, EPA does not require pesticide manufacturers to disclose the inert ingredients used in any product as the information is confidential. Both wild and commercial bees and other pollinators encounter multiple stressors, including pesticides, parasites, and poor nutrition, that act together to increase the risk of bee mortality. Therefore, reviews like these highlight the need for pesticide testing to consider the effects of all product ingredients, regardless of perceived toxicity. The researchers caution, “We argue that ‘inert’ ingredients […]

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Maine Moves to Ban Pesticides and Fertilizers Contaminated with PFAS

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2022) Both houses of Maine’s legislature have just approved a bill that would, by 2030, ban pesticides that contain PFAS chemicals — the so-called “forever chemicals.” The bill’s next stop is the Appropriations Committee, for approval of $200,000 in annual funding to enact the bill; if successful there, it will move to the desk of Maine Governor Janet Mills for her signature. The legislation is one of a suite of lawmaker efforts in the state to address the growing PFAS problem with which localities across the U.S. are struggling. In this Daily News Blog article, Beyond Pesticides continues its coverage of the scourge of PFAS chemicals, particularly as it relates to pesticide use and the use of fertilizers made from PFAS-contaminated “biosludge” from municipal treatment facilities. PFAS — “per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances” — are any of a family of more than 9,000 synthetic chemicals, invented in, and widely deployed since, the 1950s in a multitude of industrial and consumer products. PFAS molecules are made up of a chain of linked carbon and fluorine atoms; the carbon–fluorine bond is one of the strongest chemical bonds that exists, which means that these compounds do not break down in the […]

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Environmentalists Outraged at Probability that EPA Will Allow Continued Use of Deadly Pesticides, the Neonicotinoids

Friday, March 25th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2022) Recent coverage by The Guardian of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan — to extend the registration of several demonstrably harmful neonicotinoid insecticides — compels Beyond Pesticides to identify, once again, the agency’s failures to enact its core mission. That mission is “to protect human health and the environment,” and to ensure that “national efforts to reduce environmental risks are based on the best available scientific information.” EPA has undertaken a review of the registration of several members of the neonicotinoid (neonic) family of pesticides and, despite the agency’s own findings of evidence of serious threats to pollinators, aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife, it issued interim decisions on these neonics in January 2020 that disregard the science on the pesticides’ impacts. EPA appears to be prepared to finalize these registrations late in 2022; this would, barring further action, extend the use of these harmful compounds for 15 years. Neonics are used widely in the U.S., both on crops to kill sucking insects, and as seed treatments with the same goal for the developing plant. These insecticides are systemic compounds, meaning that once applied, they travel to all parts of a plant through the vascular […]

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Cockroaches Exhibit Resistance to Pesticides at 10x Label Application Rates

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2022) German cockroaches collected from U.S. residential homes have evolved resistance mechanisms so strong that many can consume ten times the pesticide required to kill a laboratory-susceptible strain and still not die. These are the findings of recent research published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, which focused on determining cockroach resistance levels to commonly used gel bait insecticides in infested Southern California homes. The findings underscore the importance of an integrated approach to cockroach management that recognizes and responds to pest ecology, rather than search for an ever-elusive silver bullet. Researchers collected five different strains of German cockroaches from various locations around Southern California, two from public housing and three from apartment dwellers. All sites had long-standing cockroach infestations, with varying treatment histories that generally included significant use of common gel bait insecticides. Tests were conducted on male cockroaches as they are gregarious foragers and thus more susceptible to baited food; it was indicated that if an insecticide cannot kill a male, it is highly unlikely to kill a juvenile or female roach. A separate group of cockroaches reared in the laboratory and never exposed to insecticides was used as a baseline for comparison. This […]

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EPA Overlooks Glyphosate and Roundup Ingredients’ Cancer, DNA Damage, and Multigenerational Effects

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2022) Glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) like Roundup® induce DNA damage and alter biological mechanisms (gene regulatory microRNAs [miRNAs or miRs]) associated with cancer development. According to the study published in Toxicological Sciences, DNA damage mainly occurs through oxidative stress from GBH exposure. Moreover, DNA damage and other biological mechanisms that cause carcinogenicity (cancer) occur at doses assumed “safe” by pesticide regulators such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Glyphosate is the most commonly used active ingredient worldwide, appearing in many herbicide formulas, not just Bayer’s (formerly Monsanto) Roundup®. The use of this chemical has been increasing since the inception of crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate over two decades ago. The toxic herbicide readily contaminates the ecosystem with residues pervasive in food and water commodities. In addition to this study, literature proves time and time again that glyphosate has an association with cancer development, as well as human, biotic, and ecosystem harm.  Study lead author Michael Antoniou, Ph.D., cautions, “Our results are the first to simultaneously show glyphosate and Roundup toxicity in a whole mammalian animal model system and provide a mechanism – oxidative stress – by which DNA damage has been observed in other systems, such as mammalian […]

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Mosquito Resistance to Pesticides Continues to Grow

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2022) Widespread, intensive pesticide use for mosquito control has allowed genetic mutations to persist among mosquito populations, causing subsequent resistance to future chemical exposure. According to a study published in Scientific Reports, two common species of female mosquitoes learned to evade pesticides following non-fatal exposure through smell. More concerning is the survival rate of these pre-exposed mosquitoes, as it is more than double that of unexposed mosquitoes. Insects, including mosquitoes, use various sensory and cognitive abilities like vision, smell, and hearing to navigate the ecosystem for survival and reproduction. Mosquitoes associate sensory stimuli like smell to a positive or negative experience, thus facilitating a response. Considering the two species of mosquitoes in this study are a vector for numerous diseases in humans, including dengue and Zika and West Nile viruses. Hence, this study highlights the significance of addressing pest resistance in pest management strategies, particularly to mitigate disease exposure and effects. The study notes, “[The] findings highlight the importance of mosquito cognition as determinants of pesticide resistance in mosquito populations targeted by chemical control.” It is essential to understand insect behavior that propagates vector-borne disease transmission that exacerbates the widespread public health crisis. Scientists attribute memory […]

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PFAS Adds to the Legacy of Persistent Toxics Hurting Generations of People and the Environment

Friday, February 18th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2022) A new analysis conducted by Safer States, and reported on by Environmental Health News (EHN), concludes that in 2022, at least 32 states will consider 210 potential laws to ban or restrict one category of so-called “legacy” chemicals — the PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) family of compounds. “Legacy” or “forever” chemicals are those whose historical use, including many decades ago in some instances, has led to their toxic persistence in the environment and in organisms. In recent years, scientists, health and environment advocates, and policy makers have begun to recognize these as very serious contaminants, and to call attention to their ubiquity and impacts. Beyond Pesticides has identified multiple instances of such “legacies” (including those related to the production of pesticides and particularly, the infamous DDT), and will here discuss both PFAS, and concerns about such legacy chemicals as they may impact food producers. The term “legacy” often connotes the ongoing influence or impact — generally salutary — of an individual’s activity, or a set of principles or activity inherited from one’s forebears. It is an apt description, minus the “salutary” part, for legacy chemicals — toxic “gifts that keep on giving” via persistent contamination […]

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Banned Pesticides in Well Water Linked to Declines in Kidney Function

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2022) Well water in agricultural regions of Sri Lanka is contaminated with highly hazardous insecticides and associated with a decline in kidney function, according to research published in npj Clean Water this month. This finding is the latest piece in an ongoing ‘puzzle’ regarding the epidemic of chronic kidney disease of unknown origins in Sri Lanka and other developing countries in agricultural regions. Although the exact etiology of the disease has not been confirmed, a number of scientific studies have pointed the finger at industrial agriculture, increasingly finding evidence of chronic pesticide exposure in affected populations.   To better understand the connection between agrichemical exposure and kidney health, researchers enrolled 293 individuals from Wilgamuwa, Sri Lanka into a prospective study. Baseline data was retrieved on occupational and environmental exposure factors, focusing in on the water source individuals used at their homes. Samples of each participant’s household wells were taken and analyzed for the presence of pesticides. Of the wells sampled, 68% were found to contain pesticides. Further, every well where pesticides were detected had at least one pesticide recorded above global drinking water guidelines. The chemicals found were also some of the most toxic pesticides to […]

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“Silence of the Clams”—Study Highlights the Threat of Multiple Pesticide Stressors to Bivalves

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2021) Chronic exposure to pesticides used in conventional forestry operations runoff and harm soft shell clams, according to a recent study published in Science of the Total Environment, entitled “The silence of the clams: Forestry registered pesticides as multiple stressors on soft-shell clams.” Rather than focusing on the impact of a single chemical, researchers analyzed the combined effects of several pesticides. “This is an important data gap to fill as research on these compounds’ toxicity typically focuses on individual compound effects at high concentrations to determine lethality, which while necessary for understanding compound toxicity, can miss sublethal effects that can have long term impacts on these systems,” said lead author Allie Tissot of Portland State University. The soft shell clam, Mya arenaria, is found to be widespread in coastal areas in both the western and eastern U.S., and is often eaten in stews or chowders. A recent study found a range of chemical contaminants detected in Oregon populations of these species, prompting researchers to further investigate the impact of these exposures. An experiment was set up with tanks to mimic a seabed, and eight different groups of 11 clams were established and treated with various amount […]

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Court Steps In to Stop Pesticide Use Not Adequately Regulated, Protects Bees

Friday, December 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2021) In a win for pollinators, a California Superior Court has issued a ruling that sulfoxaflor, a systemic pesticide that is “field legal” but “bee lethal,” can no longer be used in the state. The suit was brought by the Pollinator Stewardship Council and the American Beekeeping Federation. The ruling of the Superior Court of the State of California for Alameda County finds that the argument of the petitioners — that sulfoxaflor approval decisions by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) — is valid. Eliminating this highly bee-toxic pesticide from use in the state is expected to protect not only native bees and other pollinators (including Monarch butterflies in early Spring), but also, the many millions of managed-colony bees that are transported to California for pollination of almond and other crops. The suit was filed against DPR, Corteva inc., Dow Agrosciences LLC, the Siskiyou County Department of Agriculture, and James E. Smith as Siskiyou County Agricultural Commissioner. Having found for the petitioners’ request for a Writ of Mandate (a court order requiring a lower court or public authority to perform its statutory duty), the court instructed the petitioners to […]

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One Single Neonic Exposure Saps Wild Pollinator’s Ability to Reproduce

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2021) One exposure. That’s all it takes for wild bees to experience declines in reproduction and population growth from neonicotinoid insecticides, according to research recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). This incredible sensitivity is exactly the sort of process that could rapidly drive pollinator species into extinction. It is the sort of finding that one would expect government agencies tasked with protecting the environment to discern. Yet, regulators at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs have consistently failed to listen and meaningfully respond to the latest science. As this is done, the agency is fully aware that ever more pollinators are slated for endangered status, jeopardizing our agricultural economy, ecosystem stability, and the joy we all gain from watching our favorite pollinators flit about the landscape. Over the course of two years, researchers established a crossed experiment with ground-nesting blue orchard bees (Osmia lignaria). These pollinators, native to North America, overwinter and nest in narrow holes or tubes, making them particularly sensitive to ground-based pesticide applications. Researchers conducted their study during the first year by exposing a group of larval bees to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid through […]

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Secret Inert Ingredient in ‘Bee Safe’ Pesticide Found to Kill Bumblebees

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 11, 2021) Evidence is building that so-called ‘inert’ ingredients in pesticide formulations are harming pollinators and undermining regulatory determinations that designate products as ‘bee-safe.’ According to a new study published in Scientific Reports, the fungicide Amistar causes lethal and sublethal effects that can be primarily attributed not to its active ingredient azoxystrobin, but to alcohol ethoxylates, a co-formulant, or inert ingredient intentionally added to a pesticide formulation. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) utilizes a ‘bee advisory box’ on pesticide labels to indicate danger to pollinators, results of this and previous studies on inert ingredients underline how EPA’s ‘cute little bee icon’ is little more than window dressing for massive regulatory failures and a pollinator crisis that has shown no signs of abating. Scientists at Royal Holloway University in London, UK began their study with three packaged colonies of Bombus terrestris, a European bumblebee often bred for commercial use in greenhouses throughout the world. In order to suss out differences in toxicity between the various ingredients in the formulated Amistar fungicide, bees were separated into multiple groups. One group acted as a positive control, and was dosed with dimethoate, a pesticide known to be highly toxic […]

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Aquatic Wildlife Populations Take A Nosedive after Neonicotinoid Exposure

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 10, 2021) The diversity and abundance of freshwater aquatic insects plunges when commonly used neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides leach into waterways, finds research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month. While this is the latest study exploring the effects of neonicotinoids in the field at real-world exposure levels, it is far from the first to show unacceptable hazards to wildlife and ecological health. As research on neonics piles up, advocates are watching in dismay as regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fail to respond to the science and allow indiscriminate poisoning to continue. To determine how neonicotinoids affect critical aquatic species near the bottom of the food chain, researchers created a series of 36 experimental ditches, split into four groups of nine. One group acted as a control and received no pesticide, and each other group received, 0.1, 1.0, or 10 parts per billion (ppb) of the thiacloprid, a neonic insecticide often cited by industry and regulators as having lower toxicity concerns than other neonicotinoids. Mimicking a pulse that may come from a nearby insecticide application, each group of ditches was dosed every two weeks for a period of three months. Scientists […]

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Researchers Uncovering Patterns that Help to Explain Chemical Sensitivities

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2021) With a significant and increasing share of the U.S. population reporting sensitivities to certain chemicals, a team of researchers at University of California (Irvine), University of Texas (San Antonio), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is working to better understand how these symptoms develop. Although referred to by several names over the years, including Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and Idiopathic Environmental Illness, medical professionals are now referring to the disease as Chemical Intolerance, or Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT), to better represent the disease process and range of nervous system symptoms that individuals develop to low level chemical exposures. “We established evidence of this previously understudied disease process,” said Shahir Masri, Sc.D, at University of California, Irvine. “Our insights will help public health scientists, physicians and policymakers better understand how to minimize harmful exposures and prevent future disease.” TILT is characterized by a two-step process. First, there is an “initiation exposure event,” whereby an individual is either repeatedly exposed to low levels of certain chemicals, or experiences a major exposure incident. In the second stage, affected individuals are “triggered” even by minute exposures, not only to the chemical that affected them in the first […]

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Common Insecticide Malathion Linked to Chronic Kidney Disease

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2021) Exposure to the insecticide malathion increases risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a study recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. According to study co-author Nicholas Osborne, PhD, CKD is on the rise in developing countries in Southeast Asia and Central America, and, “[n]early one in 10 people in high income countries show signs of CKD, which is permanent kidney damage and loss of renal function.” Although CKD risk increases with age, and is associated with other health factors like smoking, heart disease, and diabetes, cases without clear cause are increasingly common, indicating the that environmental factors are likely playing a role. Researchers began with data drawn from the United States’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an ongoing study that assesses Americans’ health and nutritional status through interviews, physicals, and other health tests. Urine samples taken from individuals enrolled in NHANES 2001-2004 and 2007-2010 (tests within years between these dates did not analyze specific pesticides) were reviewed for the presence of pesticides, and compared against data collected on kidney function. In addition to malathion, 2,4-D, chlorpyrifos, and 3-PBA, the major metabolite for most synthetic pyrethroid insecticides, […]

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EPA Decisions Lacking Scientific Integrity Still In Place Under Biden Administration, Say Whistleblowers

Friday, October 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2021) With this article, Beyond Pesticides rounds out its coverage of recent revelations about compromised science integrity at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Sharon Lerner reports in her September 18 (and third in a series) article in The Intercept, new documents and whistleblower interviews reveal additional means by which EPA officials have gone out of their way to avoid assessing potential health risks of hundreds of new chemicals. Ms. Lerner writes that “senior staff have made chemicals appear safer — sometimes dodging restrictions on their use — by minimizing the estimates of how much is released into the environment.” Beyond Pesticides regularly monitors and reports on scientific integrity at EPA, including two recent articles that reference Ms. Lerner’s The Intercept reporting; see “EPA Agenda Undermined by Its Embrace of Industry Influence,” and “Whistleblowers Say EPA Managers Engaged in Corrupt and Unethical Practices, Removed Findings, and Revised Conclusions.” Whistleblowers had already provided evidence of agency malfeasance, particularly in EPA’s New Chemicals Division (NCD), such as “managers and other officials . . . pressuring [EPA scientists] to assess chemicals to be less toxic than they actually are — and sometimes removing references to their harms from […]

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Common Mosquito Pesticide Exacerbates Health Issues Associated with Zika Virus

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2021) A widely used mosquito pesticide may exacerbate the effect of the Zika virus on fetal brain development, according to research published by an international team of scientists in the journal Environmental Pollution. Pyriproxyfen, an insect growth regulator often used as a mosquito larvicide, is registered for use in hundreds of commonly used pesticide products. But scientists have discovered that the pesticide’s mode of action has the potential to worsen the public health mosquito diseases the chemical aims to control. The research reinforces the extent of unknowns associated with synthetic pesticide exposure, underlining the need for a focus on nontoxic and ecological mosquito management. Scientists base their research on reports that in Brazil, during the 2015 Zika epidemic, certain areas of the country experienced higher rates of microcephaly. Microcephaly is a rare condition that causes pregnant women’s fetus to develop severe cranial deformities, alongside a range of other symptoms that include vision problems, hearing loss, feeding issues, developmental delays and seizures. The present study aimed to see how pyriproxyfen, used at higher rates in areas where microcephaly Zika cases were recorded, may interact with the virus. In an article published in The Conversation, researchers note that […]

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Studies Show How Pesticides Harm Organisms that Form the Foundation of Freshwater Ecosystems

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 15, 2021) Toxic pesticide use, and glyphosate in particular, degrades the health of freshwater ecosystems by harming species that form the basis of aquatic food chains, according to research published by scientists at McGill University. In a series of studies, scientists investigated how freshwater bacteria and zooplankton were affected by varying levels the weed killer glyphosate, the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid, and nutrient levels. “Because plankton form the foundation of the food chain in freshwater ecosystems, it is very important to understand how plankton communities respond to widely used pesticides,” said Jesse Shapiro, PhD, an Associate Professor in McGill’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “Our research shows that the structure of these communities can be impaired under currently acceptable North American water quality guidelines.” Two separate experiments were conducted under similar conditions in order to properly investigate the effects of pesticide exposure on either zooplankton or freshwater bacteria. For both studies, target species were exposed to varying rates of glyphosate, imidacloprid, or both chemicals at either high or low water nutrient levels. Researchers conducted this study by establishing a series of outdoor experimental ponds, intended to mimic freshwater ecosystems by using Lake water and evenly distributing organisms throughout […]

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Endocrine (Hormone) Disrupting Chemicals, Including Pesticides, Also Affect the Nervous System

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2021) A new study published in Toxicology Reports finds the same chemicals that disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system also disrupt the nervous system. Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., chemical substances like toxic pesticides foreign to an organism or ecosystem) present in nearly all organisms and ecosystems. The World Health Organization (WHO), European Union (EU), and endocrine disruptor expert (deceased) Theo Colborn, Ph.D., classify over 55 to 177 chemical compounds as endocrine disruptors, including various household products like detergents, disinfectants, plastics, and pesticides. Past research shows exposure to endocrine-disrupting pesticides adversely affects human health, from reproductive function to cancer development, and effects can span generations. However, this study is one of the few to evaluate associations between endocrine-disrupting chemicals and neurological function. Although the etiology (cause) of many sporadic (non-heritable) neurological diseases are unknown, scientists suggest exposure to environmental toxicants plays a role in disease development. Therefore, government and health officials have been urged to consider how exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can impact bodily function and development apart from hormone disruption.   In the body, cells communicate through electrical or chemical signals transmitted within the nervous or endocrine system. Studies find exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals has a direct and indirect impact on hormone function and development. However, researchers investigated whether […]

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