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Common Mosquito Control Insecticides Decrease Motor Function in Infants

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2017) Prenatal exposure to commonly used mosquito and agricultural insecticides is associated with decreased motor function in infants, according to a study published in Environment International by a team of Chinese and U.S. researchers. The results of the study should give pause to insecticide-heavy efforts to control mosquitoes as the season ramps up this summer and fall. Frequent spraying as part of efforts to control Zika in Southern Florida last year resulted in large protests and calls for a preventive management approach not dependent on toxic chemicals. For the current study, over 350 pregnant Chinese mothers were tested for the presence of organophosphate pesticides in their umbilical cord blood. Researchers looked at exposure to the insecticides naled, methamidophos, trichlorfon, chlorpyrifos, and phorate. After giving birth, their children’s motor function was tested at both six and nine months of age. Tests included an analysis of the infant’s reflexes, locomotion, grasping, stationary and visual-motor integration abilities. Scores were categorized based on gross, fine, and total motor skills, and standardized quotients were created for each of the categories. Of the over 300 mothers, roughly 240 had detectable levels of one of the insecticides in their samples. Although no differences […]

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Report Finds Banned, Illegal Pesticides in Popular Indian Tea Brands

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2014) Pesticides are not the first thing to pop into mind when peering into a hot mug of steaming, pale green or murky black tea first thing in the morning. A recent report published by Greenpeace India announced the results of an investigation that tested for pesticide residues in branded tea. The verdict? Nearly 94% of the tea samples tested contained at least one of 34 different pesticides, while over half contained a toxic cocktail of more than 10 different pesticides. The residues found include DDT, which was banned for use in agriculture in India since 1989, and endosulfan, which was banned in 2011 by the Indian Supreme Court. Over half of the 49 samples contained illegal pesticides — either those that are not approved for use in tea cultivation or exceeded recommended limits. These pesticides include ones that have been long banned from agriculture and use in tea cultivation (DDT and triazophos), suspected mutagens and neurotoxicants (monocrotophos), and insecticides associated with the global decline in bee populations (neonicotinoids like thiacloprid and thiamethoxam). The most frequently detected pesticides include thiamethoxam (78%), cypermethrin (73%), acetamiprid (67%), thiacloprid (67%), DDT (67%), deltamethrin (67%), dicofol (61%), imidacloprid (61%), and […]

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Chinese Herbs Found To Be Tainted With Pesticides

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, June 25, 2013) Traditional Chinese herbs, widely regarded for their medicinal properties, may not be as therapeutic as they seem. In fact, according to a new report released by Greenpeace East Asia, they may be toxic to your health. This news isn’t just disturbing for the Chinese people who live and work around where these toxic herbs are produced, but also for the entire global export market for Chinese alternative medicines, valued at $1.46 billion in 2010. The Greenpeace report found pesticides in 48 out of their 65 samples of traditional Chinese herbs, which included plants such as wolfberries, honeysuckle, the San Qi flower and chrysanthemum. Of these samples, the researchers discovered 51 different kinds of pesticide residues, with 32 of the samples tested containing traces of three or more different pesticides. In 26 samples, residues from pesticides that have been banned for use in agriculture in China were found, including phorate, carbofuran, fipronil, methamidophos, aldicarb and ethoprophos. This report isn’t the first where Chinese exports have been singled out for presence of pesticide contamination. In April 2012, Greenpeace released a report found that Unilever’s Lipton tea bags made in China contain pesticide residues that exceed the  European […]

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EPA Sued to Enforce Endangered Salmon Protections

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2010) Several fishing and environmental conservation groups are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to limit the use of six agricultural pesticides to protect salmon. Restrictions on the use of six pesticides in Oregon, Washington and California shown to harm endangered salmon and steelhead, were ordered after a court found that EPA violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to restrict the pesticides from entering salmon habitat. However EPA has failed to act to restrict the pesticides. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington is the fourth lawsuit the plainstiffs -Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations; Institute for Fisheries Resources and Defenders of Wildlife- brought against the EPA to restrict the pesticides diazinon, malathion, chlorpyrifos, carbaryl, carbofuran and methomyl in streams of endangered salmon and steelhead. The plaintiffs seek a judgment declaring that EPA’s failure to implement the organophosphate (OP) and carbamate biological opinions issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) violates the ESA, and a judgment declaring that EPA is taking listed salmonids in violation of the ESA. The lawsuit seeks an order vacating and enjoining EPA’s authorization of the uses of […]

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Third Biological Opinion Finds Pesticides Jeopardize Endangered Species

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received a new Biological Opinion from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) with a finding that the application of products containing any of 12 organophosphate (OP) pesticides are likely to jeopardize federally listed threatened or endangered Pacific salmon and steelhead and their designated critical habitat. The 12 OPs addressed in this Biological Opinion, issued under the Endangered Species Act, are azinphos-methyl, bensulide, dimethoate, disulfoton, ethoprop, fenamiphos, methamidophos, methidathion, methyl parathion, naled, phorate, and phosmet. This opinion concludes that EPA’s registration of pesticides containing bensulide, dimethoate, ethoprop, methidathion, naled, phorate, and phosmet are each likely to jeopardize the continued existence of one or more of the 28 endangered and threatened Pacific salmonids and are each likely to destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat for one or more of the 28 threatened and endangered salmonids. NMFS reached this conclusion because predicted concentrations of these seven pesticides in salmonid habitats, particularly in floodplain habitats, are likely to cause adverse effects to at least one listed Pacific salmonids including significant reductions in growth or survival. EPA’s registration of bensulide, dimethoate, ethoprop, methidathion, naled, phorate, and phosmet is also likely to result […]

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Group Calls on Bayer to Withdraw Dangerous Pesticides

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2010)The Coalition Against Bayer Dangers, based in Germany, is urging the multinational company Bayer to withdraw its most dangerous pesticides from the world market. The network specially is calling on Bayer to end sales of all products that contain active ingredients in the highest acute toxicity Class 1 of the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of pesticides. Bayer is the world market leader in sales of pesticides, many of which account for pollution and poisonings all over the world. The company acknowledges that “crop protection products may not always be used correctly under certain circumstances in some Third World countries.” Already in its 1995 Annual Report Bayer promised to “replace products with the Classification 1 of the World Health Organization with products of lower toxicity.” Public health advocates say that safe use of Class 1 (highest acute toxicity) pesticides is not possible, especially in countries where, because of poverty, illiteracy and other social conditions, as well as tropical climatic conditions, do not permit the wearing of protective gear. WHO estimates the number of people poisoned annually at three to 25 million. At least 40,000 people are killed accidentally by pesticides every year. The estimated number of […]

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New Study Links Suicidal Thoughts to Pesticides

Monday, October 26th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2009) A new study conducted in China finds that people with organophosphate pesticides in their homes are more likely to have suicidal thoughts. According to the study, “Pesticide exposure and suicidal ideation in rural communities in Zhejiang province, China,” published in the October issue of the WHO Bulletin, there is biological evidence that chronic low-grade exposure to organophosphate pesticides, which are very easily absorbed into the body through the skin and lungs, may have adverse effects on mental health. The study was carried out in the central/coastal region of China, a relatively wealthy area with a rapidly developing economy. In a very large survey of mental health in rural community residents, participants were also asked about how they stored pesticides. The study found that people who stored pesticides at home, i.e. those with more exposure, were more likely to report recent suicidal thoughts. Supporting this, the survey also found suicidal thoughts to be associated with how easily accessible these pesticides were in the home and that the geographic areas with highest home storage of pesticides also had highest levels of suicidal thoughts in their populations. “Organophosphate pesticides are widely used around the world. They are particularly […]

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Will Deadly Pesticide’s Continued Use with Limitations Protect an Endangered Species?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is imposing use restrictions for the insecticide methoxyfenozide on cranberries in Wisconsin because of its potential effect on the Karner Blue butterfly. The Karner Blue butterfly is a federally listed endangered species. It remains to be seen whether, short of a ban, the complex and difficult to enforce restrictions on use and application methods will adequately protect the endangered species. The limitations for methoxyfenozide are contained in a series of county-specific Endangered Species Protection Bulletins (Bulletins) as part of EPA’s Endangered Species Protection Program (ESPP). EPA entered into consultation with USFWS after determining that use of methoxyfenozide on cranberries in Wisconsin may affect the listed Karner Blue butterfly. USFWS recommended a number of use limitations that, when implemented, should result in use that is not likely to adversely affect the Karner Blue butterfly, according to the bulletin. Limitations include not applying the pesticide within the designated pesticide use limitation area, ground applications- only which must be made using a drift retardant and nozzles, and when the wind speed is between 2-10 mph. These limitations are effective within specific areas […]

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Farmworkers Face Highest Risk of Pesticide Poisonings, EPA Worker Protection Standards Failing

Monday, December 8th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, December 8, 2008) A new study by a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researcher finds the pesticide poisoning incidence rate among U.S. agricultural workers is thirty-nine times higher than the incidence rate found in all other industries combined. The study, “Acute Pesticide Poisoning Among Agricultural Workers in the United Sates, 1998-2005,” published in the December issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, is believed to be the first detailed multi-state assessment of acute pesticide poisonings among agricultural workers. From 1998 to 2005, a total of 3,271 cases of acute occupational pesticide-related illness/injury among agricultural workers were identified in ten states. According to EPA, the Worker Protection Standards are designed to reduce the risk of injury or illness to agricultural field workers resulting from exposure to pesticides. Although the WPS was expanded in 1995 and in 2005 EPA developed a new WPS How to Comply (HTC) Manual, the NIOSH findings indicate that agricultural workers continue to have an elevated risk for acute pesticide poisoning. Furthermore, female agricultural workers experienced nearly twice the risk of pesticide poisoning of male agricultural workers. The most common factors that contributed to pesticide exposure included off-target drift, early reentry into […]

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Lawsuit Challenges EPA on Four Deadly Pesticides

Monday, April 7th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2008) A coalition of farmworker advocates and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the continued use of four deadly organophosphate pesticides. These pesticides were derived from nerve gas developed during World War II. Some of these pesticides have been detected in California’s rural schoolyards and homes, Sequoia National Park, and Monterey Bay. The four organophosphates at issue in the case filed April 4 are methidathion, oxydemeton-methyl, methamidophos, and ethoprop. They are used primarily in California on a wide variety of fruit, vegetable, and nut crops. “These four pesticides put thousands of farmworkers and their families at risk of serious illness every year,” said Patti Goldman, an attorney for Earthjustice, the environmental law firm that represents the coalition. “It is inexcusable for EPA to allow use of pesticides that they know are harming people, especially children.” EPA has documented that children are especially susceptible to poisoning from organophosphates. Exposure can cause dizziness, vomiting, convulsions, numbness in the limbs, loss of intellectual functioning, and death. Some organophosphates also cause hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer. “Farmworkers, and all people living in and near agricultural regions, especially children, are at great risk […]

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New Pesticides Added to Toxic Trade List

Friday, March 30th, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2007) A committee of experts advising the United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has recommended adding endosulfan and tributyl tin compounds (TBT) to a list of substances that are considered so harmful they can only be traded in special circumstances. On March 27, 2007, the United Nations said that the toxic chemicals would only be allowed to be exported to countries that have explicitly chosen to permit them, a measure aimed at protecting humans and the environment in developing countries. Endosulfan, a chemical sprayed onto food crops and cotton, and TBT, used in “antifouling paint” for ships’ hulls, are already banned in many countries. However, they may be traded freely in countries lacking tight environmental regulations. According to David Santillo who works at the research center for Greenpeace at Britain’s Exeter University, “It’s great that these two have been added to the list so countries have the choice whether to import them or not.” Endosulfan has been linked with testicular cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and defects in male sex organs. According to a recent study conducted in Costa Rica’s mountain forests, findings show that surprisingly high concentrations of pesticides are […]

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USDA Finds Pesticide Residues in Majority of Foods

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2007) The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP) recently released its latest annual summary detailing pesticide residues in the U.S. food supply. The data, from 2005, reveals approximately two-thirds of sampled foods contained one or more pesticides at detectable levels. For the 2005 report, PDP sampled fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, soybeans, wheat, milk, heavy cream, pork, bottled water and drinking water. A total of 14,749 samples were tested for various insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and growth regulators. Twelve states reported data to comprise the report: California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Ohio, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Excluding drinking water, 84 percent of samples originated within the United States. Foods most likely to be consumed by infants and children are analyzed to provide data that is used in the implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act. The data is used in this context to assess dietary exposure to pesticide residues by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Overall results show that, excluding drinking water samples, 36 percent of samples had more than one detectable pesticide, 30 percent had one detectable pesticide, and 34 percent did not have detectable levels of […]

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Honeybees Vanish, Threatening Crops and Livelihoods

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2007) In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have been shocked to find that bees have been inexplicably disappearing at an alarming rate, according to an article in the New York Times last week. This loss of honeybees threatens not only beekeeper livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable crops. Although the reasons for the honeybee disappearances are unknown, pesticides may be one of the culprits. “I have never seen anything like it,” David Bradshaw, a California beekeeper, said. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.” Last month he discovered that half of his 100 million bees were missing. Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction. Bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold. As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call “colony collapse disorder,” growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability […]

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