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Occupational Exposure to Pesticides, and Other Environmental Chemicals Increase Risk of Developing ALS

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2020) Exposure to agricultural and industrial pesticides, solvents (thinners), electromagnetic fields, and heavy metals predispose humans to¬†amyotrophic lateral sclerosis¬†(ALS), according to an Italian research study, ‚ÄúEnvironmental and Occupational Risk Factors of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Population-Based Case-Control Study,‚ÄĚ published in the¬†International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Although research supports ALS‚Äôs genetic etiology, epidemiologic research associating ALS risks and to environmental, or work-related risk factors (i.e., pesticide use, pollutant exposure, heavy metal exposure, etc.) has been inconsistent and non-definitive. This research demonstrates the importance of assessing aggregate health risks associated with occupational pesticide exposure, especially when determining potential exposure routes in specific occupational sectors. In the study, researchers note, ‚ÄúIn particular, having an occupation in the agricultural sector, especially with a long duration of the working activity as well as occupational exposure to some chemicals‚Ķmight increase ALS risk.‚ÄĚ While scientists extensively study the epidemiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)‚ÄĒa rare, yet fatal neurodegenerative disease‚ÄĒoccupational and environmental hazards inducing random (sporadic) or hereditary ALS diagnoses remain vague. With researchers predicting a global ALS incidence increase of 69% by 2040, identifying ALS‚Äôs causal factors are important to future research. In this research, Italian researchers conducted a case-control, […]

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DDT Metabolite (DDE) and Other Banned Pesticides Found in Blood Sample of African American Women in Detroit

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2020) Four banned organochlorine pesticides (OCP) are present in over 60% of a cohort of reproductive-age, black women in Detroit, according to a¬†study¬†published in¬†Environmental Research¬†by¬†Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH). OCPs are lipophilic (fat combining/dissolving), environmentally steadfast chemicals linked to harmful health effects. This study stresses the importance of monitoring pesticide accumulation, particularly regarding environmentally persistent chemicals and their metabolization via indirect exposure routes. Lead author Olivia Orta, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Epidemiology at BUSPH, highlights the significance of water monitoring‚ÄĒespecially in light of historically disproportionately high hazards for people of color (e.g., Flint, Michigan)‚ÄĒand testing sources prone to OCP contamination. She remarks, ‚ÄúThe sources that we identified as potential OCP correlates should be tested for pesticide contamination,[‚Ķ] especially drinking water.‚ÄĚ Environmental contaminants, like¬†organochlorine pesticides¬†(OCP), can persist in the environment decades after use stops, as OCPs have greater chemical stability and gradual attenuation. Minority populations are at¬†higher exposure risk¬†of environmental contaminants (i.e., pesticide) exposure that can catalyze adverse health and birth effects, especially in metropolitan areas. Although black women endure higher body burdens than other U.S. populations, there remains a lack of research surrounding the association. Boston University researchers enrolled […]

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Household Pesticide Use During Pregnancy Linked to Nephroblastoma Kidney Cancer

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2020) Home pesticide use during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of a child developing the kidney cancer nephroblastoma, or Wilms‚Äô tumor, according to research published in Cancer Epidemiology by a team of French scientists. Wilms‚Äô tumor is one of the most common childhood cancers but has an inscrutable etiology. This study adds weight to the theory that pesticides are a driver of the tumor‚Äôs development, as pesticide use was more strongly associated than other widely investigated causes, including parental smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Families enrolled in an ongoing nationwide French study were questioned by phone about their lifestyle, including smoking habits, mother‚Äôs alcohol consumption, and household pesticide use. Participants were further segmented by their frequency of these risk factors, and pesticide use was narrowed down by type, including herbicide, fungicide, and insecticide use, as well as where the chemicals were used (indoor/outdoor). Researchers ultimately enrolled 117 families whose children developed nephroblastoma, and included 1100 families as a control. A regression analysis found no association between either parent smoking and incidence of the disease. Similarly, no pattern was found in the relation between maternal alcohol consumption and Wilms‚Äô tumor. However, use of any […]

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Report Finds Top Chemical Companies Making Billions Off Poisoning the Earth

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2020) A new report finds that as birds and pollinators continue to decline, and chronic diseases remain on the rise, the global agrichemical industry is raking in billions of dollars from hazardous pesticides that contribute to these crises. A joint investigation from Unearthed and Public Eye finds that 35% of pesticide sales from the largest agrichemical corporations are made from the most toxic pesticides on the market. Pesticide production was a $57.6 billion market in 2018, according to the report. While the profits of the industry are privatized, the public health and environmental effects are broad. Studies conducted over the last decade show that the impacts of hazardous pesticide use dwarf the market for these chemicals. The impact of pesticides on public health results in a drag on the economy. Earlier this year, research from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine found that children‚Äôs exposure to organophosphate insecticides was estimated to result in over 26 million lost IQ points and over 110,000 cases of intellectual disability, totaling roughly $735 billion in economic costs each year. A 2019 study from the same scientists determined that endocrine disrupting chemicals, including organophosphates and organochlorine pesticides, were attributable […]

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South Asian Immigrants Exposed to DDT at Higher Risk of Diabetes

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2019) South Asian immigrants to the U.S. may be at increased risk of diabetes due to prior exposure to high levels of DDT, research published by the University of California Davis earlier this month indicates. The study highlights a blind spot for health care in the U.S., researchers say. ‚ÄúOur findings evoke a new interpretation of Rachel Carson‚Äôs famous book Silent Spring, in that the high DDT exposures of South Asian immigrants in the U.S. currently fall on deaf ears in the U.S.,‚ÄĚ said lead author Michele La Merrill, PhD an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Environmental Toxicology. ‚ÄúAlthough DDT remains in use in other nations and migration globalizes these exposures, people in the U.S. often mistakenly regard DDT exposure as no longer relevant to our society due to its ban in this country nearly 50 years ago.‚ÄĚ When compared to other race and ethnic groups, South Asian immigrants (individuals from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan), are at greater risk of developing diabetes, even when adjusting for potential confounders such as age and obesity. Authors of the study hypothesized that this was a result of past exposure to high levels […]

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Study Adds to Evidence that Organic Fruit Consumption Leads to Lowers Levels of Pesticide Contamination in Children, Pregnant Women

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2019) Fish and fruit are undoubtedly healthy foods, but modern-day contamination is leading scientists to caution pregnant mothers and young children to stick within current dietary guidelines, or switch to organic, in order to avoid adverse health effects. This new public health message is based on research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by scientists from University of Southern California (USC) and several European Countries, finding that overconsumption of fish and fruits leads to higher levels of contamination with toxic persistent chemicals. ‚ÄúDuring gestation and early development, the fetus and the child, respectively, are vulnerable to the effects of environmental chemicals, said Lida Chatzi, MD, associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. ‚ÄúA balanced diet during these periods is also critical for optimal nutritional status, but what to eat, and how much, are critical questions.‚ÄĚ Scientists studied a cohort of 1,288 children (between 6 and 11 years) and 818 pregnant mothers from six European countries, who were provided questionnaires to assess their weekly diet. Blood levels of a range of environmental toxicants, including organochlorine compounds like PCB, PFHSs, PFOS, PFOA, pesticides like DDT and DDE, and heavy metals including […]

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Banana Workers Made Sterile from Pesticide Sue Dow in France

Monday, October 7th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2019)¬†Central American agricultural workers, exposed in the 1970s and early 1980s to a highly toxic pesticide, subsequently began suing manufacturers in the mid-1980s, with mixed success. Now, some of those workers have stepped up their game: they have brought suit against three big agrochemical industries in France to try to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages awarded to them by Nicaraguan courts, but never paid. As reported by The New York Times, ‚Äúthe case could set a legal precedent and lead to more lawsuits in France for harm done in other countries by the pesticide Nemagon.‚ÄĚ Farmworkers in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, the Philippines, West Africa, and the U.S. were exposed to the highly toxic, brominated organochlorine pesticide ingredient, DBCP (dibromochloropropane), from the 1960s until cessation of its use, which has varied from country to country. DBCP was sold in the pesticide products Nemagon and Fumazone as a soil fumigant and nematocide on banana plantations and other crops across Central America (especially), in western Africa, and in Hawaii. As acknowledged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DBCP has multiple adverse health impacts: decreased sperm production and mobility, disturbed estrous cycles, reduced phagocytosis […]

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Cardiovascular Disease Tied to Occupational Pesticide Exposure

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 2, 2019)¬†New data gleaned from the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program ‚ÄĒ a longitudinal study of men of Japanese descent living on Oahu ‚ÄĒ demonstrate that occupational exposure to high levels of pesticides can increase risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the forms of coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke (CVA, or cerebrovascular accident). Further, researchers determined both that workers who experience high-level exposures may not experience such effects for years afterward, and that the maximum subsequent effects were seen within a decade of exposure. The study‚Äôs conclusion highlights the importance of pesticide applicator use of protective gear when handling toxic pesticides. These risks and harms could be eliminated through a transition to non-chemical means for pest control in agriculture, land management, and home and personal practices. The Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program, after enrolling more than 8,000 Japanese-American men, 45‚Äď68 years old and living on Oahu, Hawaii between 1965 and 1968, has continued to examine and interview these subjects, and document morbidity and mortality among them. This study, which performed statistical analyses on 7,557 of the subjects, is the longest longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease and any association with chronic occupational pesticide exposure, taking into account epidemiologic risk […]

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Study Finds Three Billion Birds Lost Since 1970: “Early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song”

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2019) ‚ÄúOver increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song,‚ÄĚ Rachel Carson wrote in Silent Spring in 1962. New research finds that quote has held true since it was written. Over three billion birds, or 29% of 1970s abundance have been lost in North America over the last 50 years. To make these dismal determinations, scientists drew from multiple long-term bird monitoring datasets, and a network of nearly 150 weather radars that pick up and thus have recorded the trajectory of migratory birds. Long-term surveys helped scientists determine the 3 billion bird decline, while satellite data found that migratory bird abundance has declined by 9.1% since 2007. In general, 57% of bird species are in decline, with showing the largest loss. Ninety percent of all declines were within 12 bird families: American sparrows, warblers, blackbirds, larks, Old world sparrows, swallows, nightjars, swifts, finches, flycatchers, starlings, and thrushes. Only waterfowl and wetland bird species showed any increase, 13% and 56%, respectively. Ducks, geese, and raptors all improved population levels more […]

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Pesticide Exposure Associated with Depression in Teenagers

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2019) Teens and adolescents living in agricultural areas and exposed to organophosphate insecticides are at higher risk of depression, according to the findings of a new study in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. As rates of depression and suicide rise for teenagers in the US and throughout the world, public health researchers are working to find out why by investigating potential triggers. Toxic pesticide use represents a risk that can be addressed head on, protecting children and their families from a range of diseases that threaten public health. Jose R. Suarez-Lopez, MD, PhD, at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, has been studying children living in the Ecuadorian Andes since 2008. His team assessed 529 individuals aged between 11 and 17 for their blood levels of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme necessary for the proper functioning of nerves in the body. Exposure to organophosphate insecticides like chlorpyrifos and malathion have been shown to lower levels of AChE in the body. An assessment was also given to the children to fill out, in order to determine the severity of depressive symptoms or anxiety. Results showed that children with lower levels of AChE […]

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Study Finds High Levels of Pesticide Exposure among Teenage Girls in California’s Salinas Valley

Friday, April 26th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2019) Research by the youth participatory action team of the CHAMACOS of the Salinas Evaluating Chemicals in¬†Homes and¬†Agriculture (COSECHA) reveals that teenagers in the Salinas Valley, California are routinely exposed to concerning levels of multiple toxic pesticides, several of them known endocrine disruptors. In an interview with Kion News, COSECHA research director Kimberly Parra remarked that the study is especially important because teenagers are in a stage of rapid reproductive development. As the study authors emphasize, it is their developmental stage that makes teenagers more vulnerable to the effects of endocrine disrupting pesticides, with potentially devastating consequences for lifelong health. The COSECHA study quantifies exposure to 72 pesticides, captured through volatile-trapping silicone wristbands, across 97 teenage girls living in various areas of the Salinas Valley region. Of the 72 pesticides analyzed, authors report that subjects are exposed to as many as 20 and an average of 8 pesticides over one week of routine indoor and outdoor activity. Given the well-documented dangers of pesticide co-exposures, these multiple-exposure findings are particularly concerning. Ranking the highest for prevalence among the studied pesticides is fipronil sulfide, a breakdown product of the insecticide fipronil, detected in 86.6% of the analyzed wristbands. […]

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Focus on Pesticide Bans Continues in U.S. and EU, While Toxic Pesticide Use Continues

Monday, April 8th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2019)¬†Officials in Europe and the U.S. focus on banning problem pesticides, raising concerns about their replacements in the face of pesticide-intensive management strategies, while organic advocates call for a systems change in land management. In reference to widespread community bans of Roundup/glyphosate, Cary Gillam, author of Whitewash, told last year‚Äôs Beyond Pesticides‚Äô Forum, ‚ÄúGlyphosate is the poster child for the bigger pesticide problem.‚ÄĚ She continues, ‚ÄúIf it goes away tomorrow, we are not okay.‚ÄĚ Because of this, Beyond Pesticides has strategically sought to transform our country‚Äôs approach to pest management, both agricultural and residential/structural, by eliminating a reliance on pesticides and advancing organic management practices that do not rely on toxic inputs. This Daily News Blog post offers updates on progress in the European Union (EU), in the U.S. Congress, and in communities and sates nationwide. The EU is poised to ban clorothalanil, a commonly used ‚ÄĒ and highly toxic ‚ÄĒ organochlorine fungicide, The Guardian reported, in mid-to-late May 2019. After a review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), EU states voted to approve a ban. EFSA identified as a chief safety concern the possibility that breakdown products (metabolites) of the compound may cause damage […]

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Another Study Links Glyphosate to Cancer

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2019)¬†In a study investigating the carcinogenic effects of pesticide exposure by analyzing data on 316,270 farmers and farmworkers in the U.S., Norway, and France, researchers have identified elevated risk for non Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and some subtypes, linking¬†glyphosate and large B-cell lymphoma. Other pesticides linked to the disease include the pyrethroid deltamethrin and chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma; and terbufos and NHL overall. Researchers also found ‚Äúinverse associations of NHL overall with the broader groups of organochlorine insecticides and phenoxy herbicides, after adjusting for exposure to other pesticides‚ÄĚ; such inverse associations were not found with active ingredients within these groups. The research underscores how complex the science of pesticide impacts on human health, and on cancer incidence, can be. To wit: in evaluating 14 different pesticide categories and 33 individual, active chemical ingredients, Maria E. Leon, et al., conclude that associations of pesticides with the development of NHL appear to be (NHL) subtype- and chemical-specific. Published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in mid-March, the study, ‚ÄúPesticide use and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoid malignancies in agricultural cohorts from France, Norway and the USA: a pooled analysis from the AGRICOH consortium,‚ÄĚ uses data from three large cohort […]

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$340 Billion in Annual Disease-Related Costs Associated with Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Friday, March 1st, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2019)¬†The costs of pesticide use extend far beyond the invoices farmers pay for purchase of the chemicals to use on their crops. The real costs related to pesticide use and exposure include those of health care, lost productivity and income, and environmental damage (loss of environmental services and biodiversity; compromised air, water, and soil quality). There has been relatively little research focused on those real and extensive costs; this Daily News Blog turns its attention to several that have made the attempt. January 2019 saw the publication of a new book, Sicker Fatter Poorer: The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Future … and What We Can Do About It, by Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, which examines how some chemicals ‚ÄĒ including organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides ‚ÄĒ disrupt human endocrine (hormonal) function, and damage health, sometimes irreparably. The book further investigates the economic costs of associated diseases and other health problems to the U.S. economy ‚ÄĒ on the order of 2.3% of GDP (gross domestic product), or $340 billion, annually. As Dr. Trasande notes, ‚ÄúThe reality is that policy predicts exposure, exposure predicts disease and disease ultimately costs our economy.‚ÄĚ Dr. Trasande is […]

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Acute Pesticide Incidents May Lead to Loss of Smell

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January, 23, 2019) Individuals that have been acutely poisoned by pesticides at some time in their life may be more likely to lose their sense of smell, according to a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. ¬†Researchers focused on the effect of high pesticide exposure events (HPEE), such as a pesticide spill or other incident, on a farmers‚Äô ability to smell later in life. This is the first study to indicate pesticide exposure may result in olfactory impairment. Farmers from Iowa and North Carolina enrolled in an ongoing U.S. Agricultural Health Study have been asked about their pesticide use roughly every 5 to 6 years since 1993. In the most recent survey, taken from 2013-2015, farmers were asked additional questions about HPEE in their lifetime and whether they had a significantly decreased or impaired sense of smell. ‚ÄúStudying farmers gives us more reliable data on pesticide exposures than if we had studied the general population,‚ÄĚ says Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, lead author and professor of epidemiology at Michigan State University in a press release. ‚ÄúBecause they use pesticides more and it‚Äôs part of their job, they‚Äôre more likely to remember what pesticides they used and in cases […]

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Cardiovascular Disease Linked to Pesticide Exposure

Monday, December 17th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2018)¬†Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of poor health and mortality across the world. Much is known about congenital and behavioral contributors to the disease, yet to date, little research has focused on potential environmental factors, including the possible contribution to cardiovascular disease (CVD) of exposures to toxic chemicals in the workplace. A recent study of CVD incidence among Hispanic and Latino workers, by Catherine Bulka, PhD, et al., has evaluated associations of self-reported exposures to organic solvents, metals, and pesticides with CVD. The study was published in the journal Heart on December 11, 2018, and is first to evaluate the role of chemical exposures in the workplace in the incidence of CVD in this demographic sector. As do many scientific investigations, this one points to a need for further study of the links that emerged between such exposures and compromised cardiovascular health. In an editorial in that same issue of Heart, commenting on the study, Dr. Karin Broberg of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, noted that¬†‚Äúexposure to metals and pesticides is common worldwide, and this study highlights the need to better understand the risks that these exposures cause, and to limit exposure in the […]

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DDT in Glacial Melt Puts Alaskan Communities at Risk

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2018) Meltwater and runoff from Alaskan glaciers contain detectable levels of organochlorine pesticides that bioconcentrate in fish and put individuals at risk, according to a new study from researchers at the¬†University of Maine (UMaine). DDT, lindane, and other organochlorines have been detected throughout the world, even in natural areas thought to be untouched, and pristine. As UMaine scientists show, the atmospheric transport and ubiquitous deposition of these pesticides continues to pose risks to U.S. residents long after regulations banned their use. Although most of the highly toxic class of organochlorine pesticides like DDT were banned in the early 1970s, some chemicals retained certain uses. Lindane, for example, had its pest management uses phased out gradually until 2007, but is still allowed today as a scabies and lice shampoo. While use of these pesticides has declined in the U.S., much of the developing world, including many Asian countries, such as China, India, and North Korea, still report use. This results in atmospheric transport of the pesticides, and relevant to the UMaine research, increases the likelihood that the chemicals will eventually be deposited onto Alaskan glaciers through snow or rain. The UMaine research team investigated the amount of […]

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Liver and Kidney Damage Tied to Exposure to the Organophosate Insecticide Malathion

Friday, November 9th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2018)¬†A Tunisian study (published in January 2018) on the effects in pre-pubertal mice of exposure to malathion ‚ÄĒ an organophosphate pesticide first registered for use in the U.S. in 1956 ‚ÄĒ demonstrates significant distortion of liver and kidney biochemistry and function in the animals. Deleterious effects include compromise of feeding ability, metabolism performance, neurologic deficits, reduction of overall body weight, and simultaneous increases in the weights of livers and kidneys, with structural anomalies and lesions in those organs. Organophosphates (OPs) have raised alarm bells for years. Some, such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon, have had their registrations cancelled for household uses because of the extreme health risks to children, but agricultural, golf course, and ‚Äúpublic health‚ÄĚ (mosquito control) uses remain commercially available and in use. Recently, Beyond Pesticides reported on research whose investigators support ‚ÄĒ and called publicly for ‚ÄĒ a worldwide ban on the compounds because of the serious health and environmental risks they pose, particularly for children. Beyond Pesticides has written extensively on OP pesticides, including malathion and chlorpyrifos. Both are used widely in agriculture. Chlorpyrifos has been the subject of quite a ping-pong match in recent years: a scheduled ban by the Environmental Protection […]

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Management of Pesticide Waste a Global Problem

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2018)¬†The unsustainable life cycle management of pesticides during the past seven decades has created huge stockpiles of these (and other toxic) chemicals across much of the globe, including Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. The journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research has published a special series of articles and reports from the International HCH & Pesticides Association (IHPA), titled ‚ÄúThe legacy of pesticides and POPs stockpiles ‚ÄĒ a threat to health and the environment.‚ÄĚ Stockpiles have accumulated because some products have been banned for health or environmental reasons, leaving stocks (aka waste) that are often stored inadequately, and which deteriorate and migrate to contaminate the environment and put people at risk. Those affected are very often in poor, rural communities that may be unaware of the threat in their midst. Beyond Pesticides covered this ‚Äúchemical time bomb‚ÄĚ problem in 2004 and again nearly a decade ago. The special issue of Environmental Science and Pollution Research responds to multiple fronts on this problem of accumulation and storage of toxic compounds, identifying the two largest issues as: (1) the stockpile of some 4‚Äď7 million tons of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) waste from lindane production; and the 240,000 […]

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Organochlorine Pesticide Exposures in the Womb Linked to Poorer Lung Function in Childhood

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2018) Babies exposed to higher levels of organochlorine compounds in the womb go on to have worse lung function in childhood, according to new research presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress.¬†Previous studies have found a link between low lung function in early adulthood and respiratory, cardiovascular, and metabolic issues in later life. Beyond Pesticides has covered in its Daily News studies on a range of adverse effects, including autism in children, caused by organochlorine pesticide exposure, which bioaccumulates in the environment and the human body. Organochlorine compounds, which include the pesticide DDT, as well as electrical insulators and other industrial products, are now banned in most parts of the world. However, because they degrade very slowly, they are still present in the environment and in foods. Previous research has suggests links between exposure to these chemicals in the womb and parents reporting childhood respiratory diseases such as wheezing, asthma, and chest infections. The new study is the first to show a link with objective measures of lung strength and capacity in relation to low-level exposure to these chemicals. Organochlorine compounds can disrupt the hormone system and have been linked to a wide range of […]

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Military Base Has Legacy of Pesticide and Other Toxic Chemical Exposure and Harm

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, September 19, 2018)¬†‚Äú‚ÄėDon‚Äôt get pregnant at George Air Force Base‚Äô‚ÄĚ was the advice imparted from one female Air Force member to another in 1975 at that base, located 100+ miles north of San Diego and used as an active military site from 1941‚Äď1992. From the start of their service at George AFB, both parties to this conversation came to be familiar with the shared horror stories of repeated infections, vaginal bleeding, ovarian cysts, uterine tumors, birth defects, and miscarriages among female Air Force members at the site. Many women who served at George AFB in the 1970s, ‚Äė80s, and ‚Äė90s suffered, but did not know what was causing, such health issues, which were frequent enough that even base doctors would sometimes privately warn women off of getting pregnant while serving there. Among the many contaminants found at George AFB and other military sites are organochlorine-based pesticides (OCPs), such as DDT, dieldrin/aldrin, heptachlor, lindane, endrin, chlordane, mirex, toxaphene, hexachlorobenzene, chlordane, and others. (A comprehensive list of OCPs is available here.) Most of these compounds were used on military bases for decades for vegetation control, as building pesticides or fumigants, or for personal pesticide treatments for lice and scabies, and […]

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Mothers with High Exposure to DDT More Likely to Have Children with Autism, Study Finds

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2018) Mothers with high levels of DDT‚Äôs major metabolite, DDE, are more likely to have their children diagnosed with autism, according to a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry this month. Though this study links autism to long-banned DDT, it raises significant concerns about legacy contamination from this chemical, which remains ubiquitous in the environment and in human bodies. With an increasing number of studies linking autism and other developmental disabilities to pesticides, the need to transition to safer, organic methods of farming is now more important than ever before. The study, Association of Maternal Insecticide Levels With Autism in Offspring From a National Birth Cohort, measured maternal serum levels of Finish women during early pregnancy whose children were born between 1987 and 2005. Specimens were analyzed for DDE as well as PCB contamination. Mothers with DDE at the highest 75% threshold reportedly had a 132% (1.32x odds ratio) increased risk of having a children diagnosed with autism after adjusting for confounders such as age and history of psychiatric disorders. Moms above the 75th percentile had their chances of a child‚Äôs autism diagnosis increase by 221% (2.21x odds ratio). The study found no connection […]

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Research Shows Common Insecticides Harm Songbird Migration, Raises Concerns of a New Silent Spring

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2017) Songbirds exposed to widely used insecticides fail to properly orient themselves for migration, according to a study published by Canadian scientists in Scientific Reports. With the organophosphate chlorpyrifos and the neonicotinoid imidacloprid applied to millions of acres of farmland throughout North America, this new research adds weight to arguments that pesticides are a likely cause in the decline of migratory bird populations. ‚ÄúStudies on the risks of neonicotinoids have often focused on bees that have been experiencing population declines. However, it is not just bees that are being affected by these insecticides,‚ÄĚ said Christy Morrissey, PhD, biology professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Researchers captured 57 white crowned sparrows in northern Canada, and held them in an outdoor pen for roughly two weeks, during which time all the birds either gained or maintained their weight. The songbirds were then split into three groups, one exposed to imidacloprid, another to chlorpyrifos, and the last untreated and acting as a control. The imidacloprid and chlorpyrifos exposed groups were each further separated by exposing a portion to the insecticide at 10% of the lethal dose that would kill 50% of a given population (LD50), and another to 25% […]

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