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Transport of Pesticides through Waterways Raises Serious Contamination Problems

Friday, August 4th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2023) The results of an Australian study published in Nature strike a contrast between land and water contamination with pesticide active substances (PAS), highlighting contamination as pesticides are transported through waterways.  The study results on water transport raise serious contamination issues. Only about one percent of the pesticides entering rivers degrade, so that long stretches of waterways and the oceans suffer the direct impact of a pesticide’s active ingredient. The lack of degradation also means that water organisms are being exposed to levels of pesticides exceeding many of the regulatory threshold limits set by governments. Although observation data are highly variable, the authors note that measured concentrations of pesticides in some river reaches of North America, East Asia and Europe exceed one or more regulatory threshold limits “at least once a year.” Further, the pesticides can bioaccumulate at each level of the aquatic food web, which can multiply concentrations by a thousand or more in the highest trophic levels, according to the study authors. The study finds that more than four-fifths of PAS are degraded in the soil, leaving about 10 percent of the original chemical in the soil as residue. Nearly half of that residues […]

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Deaths from Building Fumigation Raise Long-standing Health Concerns, Calls for Ban and Adoption of Alternatives

Wednesday, June 28th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2023) An autopsy report from the Broward County Medical Examiner’s office in Florida found that acute exposure to the fumigant sulfuryl fluoride resulted in the death of two pest control workers from Pompano Beach. After the fumigation of a Pompano Beach warehouse in April, three workers fell ill, and two died after pesticide application. The highly toxic chemical can be used by the chemical pest control industry for killing termites, powder post beetles, old house borers, bedbugs, carpet beetles, moths, cockroaches, rats, and mice. In addition to being highly acutely toxic, sulfuryl fluoride, as a fluoride compound, can cause various chronic adverse health effects, including cancer, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity (reduced IQ), and reproductive damage. This case represents the broader issue of how toxic chemical compounds can enter the body, causing physiological damage. In fact, just last March 2023, a case report article published in Frontier in Public Health confirms one of the first reported deaths from inhalation of the fumigant 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D or Telone) during work, resulting in acute renal (kidney) failure, hyperkalemia (high potassium levels in the blood), and brain edema (swelling). Considering over 300 environmental contaminants and their byproducts, including pesticides, are chemicals commonly present in human blood and urine samples, toxicity risk increases when entering the […]

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Two Hundred Million Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Used in California, According to 2016 Annual Data

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, May 22, 2018)  A staggering 209 million pounds of pesticides were used in California in 2016, according to the latest data released by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). This figure refers only to applied “active” pesticide ingredients and not “inerts,” which often account for 80 to 99 percent of pesticide products and can be equally hazardous to human health and the environment. Even though pesticide use in the state has dropped by 1.4 percent from the previous year, pesticide use in 2016 was still the third highest in recorded history, since the inception of DPR’s comprehensive data collection program in 1990. In fact, the total pesticide use was only six million pounds shy of the highest amount ever recorded – 215 million pounds in 1998. The land area treated with carcinogens is as large as the size of New Jersey and Connecticut combined. Nearly 102 million cumulative acres of land were treated with pesticides in the state, ranging in toxicity from low to high risk. Each time an acre is pesticide-treated in a given year, DPR adds the acre to its cumulative list, even if the treatment is repeated on the same land. The 2016 figure represents an […]

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Pesticide Use in California Increases after Four-Year Decline

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2012) Pesticide use in California rose in 2010 after declining for four consecutive years, according to data released by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). More than 173 million pounds of pesticides were reported applied statewide, an increase of nearly 15 million pounds — or 9.5 percent — from 2009. Overall, most of the growth in pesticide use was in production agriculture, where applications increased by 12 million pounds. California’s DPR, which has the most extensive pesticide use reporting system in the United States and oversees one of the most comprehensive pesticide regulatory programs in the world, published its pesticide usage data for the state last week. Along with increases in agricultural pesticide use which reflects a 15 percent jump in acres treated with pesticides, post-harvest treatments went up by 657,000 pounds, structural pest control by 760,000 and landscape maintenance by 374,000 pounds. Reports are mandatory for agricultural and pest control business applications, while most home, industrial and institutional uses are exempt. Pesticides with the greatest increase include 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D). commonly known as Telone, a fumigant whose use went up by 2.4 million pounds, or 37 percent. It is used on strawberries, almonds, sweet potatoes, carrots, […]

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California’s Pesticide Use Declined Again, Yet Millions of Toxic Pesticides Continue To Be Used

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2010) Pesticide use declined in California for a fourth consecutive year in 2009 according to the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), yet despite the viability of organic agriculture, millions of pounds of highly toxic pesticides continue to be used unnecessarily throughout the state. The Summary of Pesticide Use Report Data 2009 estimates that approximately 162 million pounds of reported pesticides were applied statewide, a decrease of nearly 8 million pounds or 5 percent from 2008. Pesticide use in production agriculture fell by 5.1 million pounds and in most other categories as well, including post-harvest treatments, structural pest control and landscape maintenance. Reports are mandatory for agricultural and pest control business application, however most home, industrial and institutional uses are exempt. California also leads with the most certified organic cropland, with over 430,000 acres, largely used for fruit and vegetable production according to updated data posted by USDA and an averaged 15 percent certified organic cropland acreage annual growth between 2002 and 2008. DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam emphasized that pesticide use varies from year to year depending on a number of factors, including weather, pest problems, economics and types of crops planted. Increases and decreases in […]

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California’s Pesticide Use Declined, Yet Millions of Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Continue

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, January 26, 2010) Pesticide use declined in California for a third consecutive year in 2008, according to the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). Approximately 162 million pounds of reported pesticides were applied statewide, a decrease of nearly 10 million pounds – or 6 percent – from 2007. Pesticide use in production agriculture fell by 9.6 million pounds and in most other categories as well, including structural pest control and landscape maintenance. Reports are mandatory for agricultural and pest control business applications, while most home, industrial and institutional uses are exempt. DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam emphasized that pesticide use varies from year to year depending on a number of factors, including weather, pest problems, economics and types of crops planted. Increases and decreases in pesticide use from one year to the next or in the span of a few years do not necessarily indicate a general trend. “California experienced another dry winter and spring in 2008, which helps explain why fungicides showed the greatest decrease in use by both pounds and acres treated,” Ms. Warmerdam said. “Herbicide use also fell by pounds and acres treated, indicating fewer weeds.” Sulfur was again the most highly used pesticide in 2008 […]

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Farmworker Groups Ask EPA Administrator to Uphold Environmental Justice for Farmworker Communities

Friday, June 19th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2009) Farmworker unions, support groups, and worker advocacy organizations today asked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to stop the pesticide poisoning of farmworker communities and uphold the Obama administration’s commitment to environmental justice. Citing a long EPA history of “inhumane neglect of toxic pesticide effects on farmworker community health,” the groups asked the Administrator to amend a recent May 2009 decision that allows the continued use of hazardous soil fumigant pesticides. The chemicals when used in chemically treated crop production, such as tomatoes, carrots, strawberries and nuts, escape into the environment and drift into communities where the families and children of farmworkers live and play. The letter, signed by 28 groups from across the country, says that the new fumigants policy “continues an outdated EPA approach to pesticide regulation that adopts unrealistic and unenforceable standards as risk mitigation measures, in an age of safer, greener approaches to agricultural pest management.” EPA announced its decision May 27, 2009 to allow continued use of toxic soil fumigants with modified safety measures, falling far short of safety advocate efforts to adopt more stringent use restrictions and chemical bans. The rule was first proposed in July 2008, […]

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Workers and Communities Still Unprotected by EPA Fumigant Rule, Advocates Say

Friday, May 29th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2008) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced May 27, 2009 modified safety measures for soil fumigant pesticides, falling short of safety advocate efforts to adopt more stringent use restrictions and chemical bans. The new regulations follow a July 10, 2008 proposed rule, which resulted from three years of deliberation. Safety advocates said last July that while substantially better than the past, the proposed regulation fell short in protecting people, workers and the environment and from that perspective this weeks regulation is a disappointment. Advocates believe that the country can do better to phase out uses of highly hazardous chemicals that have devastating impact on exposed workers and communities in which they are used, and advance green technologies and organic practices. Fumigants, which are among the most toxic chemicals used in agriculture, are gases or liquids that are injected or dripped into the soil to sterilize a field before planting. Even with plastic tarps on the soil, fumigants escape from the soil and drift through the air into schools, homes, parks and playgrounds. Strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, carrots and potatoes are some of the major crops for which fumigant use is high. The agency says these measures will […]

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EPA Fumigant Rules Leave Communities and Workers At Risk

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2008) After three years of deliberation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new rules for five highly toxic fumigant pesticides on July 10, 2008. Environmental health, community and farmworker groups say the rules, while substantially better than the past, still fall short of protecting people, workers and the environment. The rules will be published in the Federal Register on July 17, 2008.The fumigant review, mandated by the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, was conducted as a combined evaluation of five commonly used fumigants, called the “Fumigant Cluster Assessment.” The five fumigants included in the assessment are methyl bromide, metam sodium, metam potassium, dazomet, and chloropicrin. Methyl bromide was slated for phaseout by January 2005 under the Montreal Protocol because it is a potent ozone depletor, but the Bush Administration has sought annual “critical use exemptions,” keeping it on the market. Fumigants, which are among the most toxic chemicals used in agriculture, are gases or liquids that are injected or dripped into the soil to sterilize a field before planting. Even with plastic tarps on the soil, fumigants escape from the soil and drift through the air into schools, homes, parks and playgrounds. Strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, […]

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California Proposes New Fumigant Regulations

Monday, May 21st, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2007) On Friday, May 18, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) proposed rules to sharply reduce fumigant air emissions that contribute to smog. Acting under a federal court order, DPR will begin allocating fumigant use in areas with poor air quality. The proposed rules make California the first state to dictate how and where several widely used fumigants can be applied on fields statewide, said Glenn Brank, spokesman for the state Department of Pesticide Regulation. The directive, which the agency has the authority to set, centers on fumigants – gases fruit and vegetable growers use to kill pests in the soil before planting. The chemicals have long been blamed for being part of the state’s air pollution problem because they cause smog-forming gases when they evaporate from fields. The rules also would eliminate some fumigation methods that permit high emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. While farm chemicals comprise only about 2 percent of California’s overall VOC emissions, pesticides are among the top ten VOC sources in the San Joaquin Valley and Ventura air attainment areas. The Southeast Desert area also fails to meet pesticide VOC goals. The Department predicts its plan […]

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