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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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Research on Thousands of Organic and Chemical-Intensive Farms Illustrates Stark Difference in Toxic Chemical Use

Friday, September 24th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2021) Recent research out of California sought to compare (and quantify) differences in total pesticide use, and in use of pesticides of specific concern, across conventional and organic agricultural fields in the state. The research team, from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, finds an 18–31% likely reduction in spraying of pesticides on organically managed fields compared to conventional, and a 27% likely reduction in use of pesticide products with high acute human toxicity for organic versus conventional fields. Readers may be gasping, and thinking, “Wait, what?! I thought organic farming does not use pesticides! Help?” There is a world of difference between the pesticides used in organic and in conventional production. Though conventional growers are allowed to use thousands of synthetic compounds on their crops, seeds, and soils — no matter their toxicity, as long as EPA has permitted them — Certified Organic growers are permitted to use only “natural” or naturally derived pesticide products, and a very limited number, at that. Organic growers may use any of the products listed in “The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances,” as established by the NOP’s (National Organic Program’s) National […]

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Study Adds to 40 Year Analysis Linking Brain Cancer to Pesticide Exposure

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2021) A study by Claremont Graduate University finds exposure to agricultural pesticides increases brain cancer risk up to 20 percent. This study expands on a 1998 study evaluating brain cancer risk among the farm population using epidemiologic studies. The etiology (cause) of brain cancer is inconclusive for many forms, including glioma and meningioma. Brain cancer risk factors include family history and exposure to radiation. However, geographical variance in brain cancer incidents suggests environmental pollutants like pesticides contribute to risk. Various research studies already note the adverse effects pesticide exposure has on the brain. These effects range from headaches and tumors to learning and developmental disabilities among children and adults. Although general cancer incidents are decreasing, brain and nervous system cancers are rising. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need to reevaluate pesticide exposure limits for those working with or around agricultural chemicals to prevent chronic, deadly diseases. The study researchers note, “This comprehensive review and meta-analysis encompassing 42 years of the epidemiologic literature and updating two previous meta-analyses by 20 years supports an association between farming and brain cancer incidence and mortality.[…]Our analyses suggest that the elevated risk has been consistent over time, and the addition of newer studies […]

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Persistent Organic Pollutants, including Banned Pesticides, Remain Present in all Fetal Organs Regardless of Maternal Chemical Contamination

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2021) A study published in Chemosphere finds persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), are present in the serum and placenta of pregnant mothers, as well as multiple fetal organs. Many studies indicate prenatal and early-life exposure to environmental toxicants increases susceptibility to diseases, from learning and developmental disabilities to cancer. However, this study is one of the first to demonstrate the presence of chemical toxicants in fetal tissue that are not present in maternal serum or placental samples. Prenatal development is one of the most vulnerable periods of exposure when the fetus is most susceptible to the harmful effects of chemical contaminants. Therefore, studies like these help government and health officials better identify fetal exposure contaminants and subsequent health concerns otherwise missed by current chemical monitoring methods. The researchers note, “These findings call for further evaluation of the current matrices used to estimate fetal exposure and establish a possible correction factor for a more accurate assessment of exposure in utero. We disclose the full data set on individual exposure concentrations to assist in building in silico models for prediction of human fetal exposure to chemicals.” Several studies associate early-life exposure to toxic chemicals […]

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Study Finds Recently Banned, Common Insecticide Promotes Obesity Development, and Related Illnesses

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2021) A McMaster University (Canada) study demonstrates exposure to the recently banned, commonly used insecticide chlorpyrifos promotes obesity development, even at low doses. Obesity generally occurs following a caloric imbalance between food intake, absorption, and energy expenditure. Although various factors can promote obesity, researchers suggest environmental toxicants like chlorpyrifos play a role in obesity development through protein/enzyme suppression. According to the Center for Disease Control, 42 percent of the U.S. population is obese and at risk for type two diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) disease, stroke, several cancers, and other critical health issues. Therefore, research like this highlights the significance of investigating how toxic chemical exposure can impact health to prevent adverse disease outcomes. Researchers note, “These studies suggest that the effects of environmental toxicants on the development of obesity may have been underestimated as all studies to date have been conducted in mice housed at RT [room temperature]. Future studies examining the mechanisms driving reductions in ÎČ-AR [beta adrenergic receptors] signaling and whether there are associations between BAT [brown adipose tissue] metabolic activity and CPF [chlorpyrifos] in humans will be important.” Several environmental pollutants have links to obesity development via the effects on gut health, endocrine (hormone) and metabolic system, […]

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In Utero and Childhood Pesticide Exposure Increases Childhood Cancer Risk

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, September 1, 2021) A study published in Environmental Pollution finds the risk of acute childhood leukemia (AL) increases with prenatal and newborn exposure to pesticides (i.e., insecticides and herbicides). The study results support the hypothesis that chronic environmental pesticide exposure increases childhood leukemia risk up to two times. Maternal exposure has a stronger association with leukemia than childhood exposure. Insecticides and herbicides are of particular significance in increasing leukemia risk, especially for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Although medical advancements in disease survival are more prominent nowadays, childhood AL remains the secondary cause of child mortality following physical injury. Furthermore, childhood leukemia survivors can suffer from chronic or long-term health complications that may be life-threatening. Although the etiology or cause of childhood AL involves the interaction of multiple components like lifestyle and genetics, emerging evidence indicates that environmental contaminants like pesticides (e.g., occupational exposures, air pollution, pesticides, solvents, diet, etc.) play a role in disease etiology. Pesticide contamination is widespread in all ecosystems, and chemical compounds can accumulate in human tissues resulting in chronic health effects. Children are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of pesticide exposure as their developing bodies cannot adequately combat exposure effects. Already, studies find low levels of pesticide exposure during […]

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Deer Ticks Developing Resistance to Popular Tick Control Chemical: Implications of Lyme Disease

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 22, 2021) A new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology finds black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapulari) in New York are developing potential resistance to widely used tick-control pyrethroid insecticide, permethrin. The study suggests continuous use of area-wide, 4-poster devices (devices that attract deer and then apply pesticide to their head, ears, and neck) to apply insecticide treatments on deer to control tick populations promotes resistance. Resistance is an ever-present issue among chemical compounds (i.e., antibiotics, antimicrobials, pesticides) used in medicine and agriculture, and threatening the ability to prevent disease outbreaks, such as Lyme disease. Furthermore, increasing populations of rodent and mammalian hosts, in addition to warmer temperatures prompted by the climate crisis, allows for disease-carrying ticks to flourish. Lyme disease is the most common vector disease and a primary concern for the general population. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need to assess resistance among disease-vector pest populations regardless of pesticide application methods. The researchers note, “Permethrin susceptibility of tick populations should be monitored from other 4-poster control areas so that guidelines for managing pesticide resistance in the field can be developed.” Four-poster devices impart selective pressure on tick populations influencing reproduction and natural extinction of species. However, like mosquitoes, a subpopulation of ticks […]

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Millions of Acres in West To Be Sprayed with Toxic Insecticides for Grasshoppers

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2021) Western states are in the midst of one of the largest spray campaigns in recent history, targeting native grasshopper species on more than two million acres of rangeland with highly toxic insecticides. Grasshopper populations have exploded this year due to the West’s ongoing drought, and government officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are hoping that hazardous pesticide use will stop the voracious winged insects from consuming forage used by cattle operations. Environmental groups are urging changes to the program, which has conducted insecticide campaigns against the native grasshoppers since the 1930s. “Aerial application of insecticides on this scale will eliminate millions of insects that pollinate, recycle plant nutrients and perform natural pest control,” said Sharon Selvaggio, Pesticide Program Specialist with the Xerces Society. “Insecticide sprays on this scale across native ecosystems are short-sighted and unsustainable.” According to a June 2020 press release, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is spending $5.3 million dollars of taxpayer money in order to conduct what it calls “suppression treatments.” APHIS claims the $5.3 million will protect $8.7 million worth of agricultural resources, but advocates argue that the agency has failed to meet the “level of economic […]

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Insecticide Chlorpyrifos Interacts with Genes to Increase Autism Risk, Research Finds

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2021) Chlorpyrifos exposure results in the expression of genetic mutations associated with autism spectrum disorder in a laboratory model, finds research published in Environmental Health Perspectives by scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This is a step forward in showing an interplay between genetics and environment and its potential role for autism spectrum disorder,” says study lead Lena Smirnova, PhD, a research associate in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Bloomberg School. The findings support reams of research already conducted that show strong associations between autism and exposure to hazardous environmental stressors like toxic pesticides. Scientists conducted their study using a ‘brain organoid’ model, which is essentially a cluster of cells artificially grown in the lab from stem cells in order to mimic a developing human brain. These tests provide certain benefits over animal testing, as they are more relevant to human disease, and can be performed faster with less cost. The organoid model also represents an improvement on typical 2d cell-based models, increasing cell survival, shelf-life, and thus providing opportunity to model for later stages of brain development. Brain organoids in this study carried a gene called CHD8, which […]

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Take Action: Schools Must Provide and Encourage Organic Food

Monday, July 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2021) As yet another study, “Early life multiple exposures and child cognitive function: A multi-centric birth cohort study in six European countries,” draws attention to the benefits of organic food for the learning young mind, it is important that schools provide organic food to students. The study, conducted by Spanish researchers based at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, looks at a totality of all environmental hazards that children encounter, rather than individual lifestyle factors. As study co-author Jordi JĂșlvez, PhD, notes, “Healthy diets, including organic diets, are richer than fast food diets in nutrients necessary for the brain, such as fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, which together may enhance cognitive function in childhood.” Tell your governor and USDA/Food and Nutrition Service to provide organic school lunches and information for parents. Researchers find that children who eat organic food display higher scores measuring fluid intelligence and working memory. Lower scores on fluid intelligence tests are associated with children’s fast food intake, house crowding, and exposure to tobacco smoke. Lower scores on working memory tests were associated with exposure to poor indoor air quality. This study adds to prior research finding that eating a conventional, chemical-intensive diet increases […]

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Parents of Harmed Children Sue Manufacturer of Brain-Damaging Insecticide Chlorpyrifos

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2021) Corteva (formerly DowDupont) is facing a potential class-action lawsuit after several California families filed suit claiming that the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos around their homes resulted in birth defects, brain damage, and developmental problems in their children. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that has been linked to a range of health ailments, posing significant hazards particularly for pregnant mothers and their children. The lawsuits come as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approaches a court-imposed 60-day deadline to decide the fate of the pesticide’s registration. Attorneys for the court cases, filed on behalf of individuals located in four California communities (Fresno, Kings, Medera, and Tulare counties), indicate they intend to pursue class-action status, which would allow additional injured parties to join the lawsuit. The plaintiffs argue that the effects of chlorpyrifos exposure lingers in the agricultural communities where they reside. “We have found it in the houses, we have found it in carpet, in upholstered furniture, we found it in a teddy bear, and we found it on the walls and surfaces,” said Stuart Calwell, lead attorney for the plantiffs. “Then a little child picks up a teddy bear and holds on to it.” […]

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EPA Agenda Undermined by Its Embrace of Industry Influence, Article Documents

Friday, July 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2021) The investigative online publication The Intercept has turned its attention to the current and historical role of industry in distorting, undermining, and outright suppressing the protective function of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regard to pesticide exposures. The subsequent reporting — “The Department of Yes: How Pesticide Companies Corrupted the EPA and Poisoned America” — is a devastating chronicle of the theme and particulars that Beyond Pesticides has covered for years. That is, that EPA has repeatedly disregarded its charge to protect human and environmental health in favor of enabling industry to continue its chemical experimentation on the populace and on the nation’s multiple natural resources. This pattern must change if the agency is to enact its mission and the public is to be protected. The Intercept interviewed more than 24 people with expertise on the regulation of pesticides, including 14 who have worked in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). The chief takeaway from those interviews, as written by reporter Sharon Lerner, is that EPA “is often unable to stand up to the intense pressures from powerful agrochemical companies, which spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying each year and employ many […]

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Kids Who Eat Organic Food Score Higher on Cognitive Tests, Study Finds

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 7, 2021) Organic food consumption among children is associated with higher scores on tests measuring fluid intelligence and working memory, research published in the journal Environmental Pollution finds. The study, conducted by Spanish researchers based at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, took an exposome approach to environmental exposures, looking at a totality of all environmental hazards that children encounter, rather than investigating individual lifestyle factors one by one. As study co-author Jordi JĂșlvez, PhD, notes, “healthy diets, including organic diets, are richer than fast food diets in nutrients necessary for the brain, such as fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, which together may enhance cognitive function in childhood.” Researchers began their study by selecting mother-child pairs enrolled in the Human Early-Life Exposome (HELIX) Project, a pan-European study with projects in multiple European countries. Nearly 1,300 healthy children aged 6-11 were included in the study, as researchers already had pregnancy data and urine samples stored on the participants. To determine other environmental exposures, home addresses were evaluated for their level of pollution and proximity to natural spaces, and children and their mothers were given tests that included a questionnaire on lifestyle factors, including parents smoking and alcohol use, […]

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Disease Carrying Mosquitoes Developing Resistance to Widely Used Mosquito Control Pesticides

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, July 1, 2021) Yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) are evolving resistance to the pyrethroid insecticide permethrin, according to a study published by Colorado State University, highlighting the need to adopt ecologically-based mosquito management. Widespread, intensive use of the pesticide in mosquito control has allowed genetic mutations to persist among these mosquito populations, causing subsequent resistance to permethrin. Pyrethroids are one of the few remaining classes of insecticides available to control yellow fever mosquitos, and resistance threatens the ability to prevent disease outbreaks with chemical-intensive methods. Yellow fever mosquitoes are a vector for numerous untreatable diseases in humans, including dengue, chikungunya fever, and Zika viruses. Hence, this study highlights the significance of addressing pest resistance to pesticide control, particularly to mitigate disease exposure and effects. The researchers note, “This knowledge can help scientists understand how mosquitoes have evolved resistance and when a population can no longer be controlled with permethrin. This understanding will be necessary to develop tools to support future insecticide management strategies.” Researchers sequenced the genome of resistant and knockdown (either recovered or dead) mosquitoes after permethrin exposure using a bottle bioassay. The aim was to identify genomic variants/biomarkers associated with specific resistance mechanisms. Two common pyrethroid resistance mechanisms occur among […]

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White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council Confronts Institutional Racism with Recommendations

Friday, June 25th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 25, 2021) A consequential report from the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) sets out important and comprehensive recommendations that, if enacted, would put environmental justice on the front burner of national policy. The report spells out a multitude of challenges, and recommendations for addressing them, in service of advancing environmental justice (EJ) across federal agencies. Notably, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is called out for, among other things, poor protection of farmworkers and their families, who tend to be people of color, from pesticide risks. The report arises from President Biden’s late January 2021 Executive Orders (covered by Beyond Pesticides here) on: (1) tackling the climate crisis with a “whole of government” approach, with an explicit focus on EJ, and (2) recalibrating the functions of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to “forward health, racial equity, and environmental stewardship.” That early 2021 Executive Order (EO) on climate established the WHEJAC and the Justice40 Initiative, the latter of which aims to direct 40% of some categories of federal investment to historically under-served communities. Those investments, as reported by AgriPulse, would promote “clean energy and energy efficiency; clean transit; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce […]

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The Week of June 21 Is Pollinator Week—A Time to Take Personal and Community Action 

Monday, June 21st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2021) Pollinator Week reminds us that change is critical to the survival of the planet and that we can take action, both in our households and communities and in the state and federal policy arena.  Here’s how YOU can take action… Create an organic habitat on your own property or a space in the community—such as the library grounds, medians, and rights-of-way. Given that plant starts in many garden centers across the country are grown from seeds coated with bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, or drenched with them, Beyond Pesticides has compiled a comprehensive directory of companies and organizations that sell organic seeds and plants to the general public. Included in this directory are seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs, as well as living plants and seedlings. [We are always updating the directory, so send us names of companies that should be added and we will.] Go organic in the management of all your town’s public spaces—parks, playing fields, school grounds, and open space. Check out the information on talking with your neighbors, local organizations, and elected officials about advancing our model local policy. Then you can see what other communities are doing across the country. Also, see the cost […]

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Women’s Exposure to Environmental Pollutants Prompts Infertility and Low Egg Count

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 10, 2021) Exposure to toxic chemicals decreases egg count and increases infertility risk among women, according to a study published in Environment International. Since 2014, U.S. fertility rates have been decreasing, with many attributing the decline to older age pregnancies. However, several findings demonstrate that exposure to environmental pollutants, like persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from the industrial and agriculture industry, contributes to a decline in fertility rates. Scientists and health officials already associate exposure to POPs, like pesticides, with adverse impacts on male fertility, including reduced sperm count, quality, and abnormal sperm development. Therefore, it is essential to understand how exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment affects reproductive success, especially among women who can transfer contaminants to the fetus via the umbilical cord. The researchers note that these findings should urge government and health officials to reexamine chemical safety concerning reproductive health, and “strongly encourage [them] to study mechanisms behind POP-associated infertility in women in more detail.” Researchers examined ovarian egg reserve size in pregnant women directly by examining the density of follicles and immature eggs in ovarian tissue and indirectly via serum anti-MĂŒllerian hormone (AMH). Using AMH serum samples, researchers assessed concentration levels of 31 POPs: nine organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), ten polychlorinated […]

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Threat to Ocean Health: Pesticide Resistant Fish Lice Plague the North Atlantic Ocean

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2021) A report published in Royal Society Open Science finds pesticide-resistant parasitic lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) are endangering wild and farmed fish populations in the North Atlantic. Extensive use of pesticides to rid the parasite has led to widespread resistance to multiple pesticides, prompting increasing infection rates among North Atlantic salmon populations. Overexploitation of wild fish and other ocean organisms has depleted seafood stocks globally. Some fisheries market aquaculture practices, like fish/seafood farming, as a solution to overfishing. However, the aquaculture industry repeatedly faces sustainability issues and fails to adhere to environmental regulations that threaten marine health. The oceans are essential to human health and well-being, feeding billions, supporting millions of jobs, and supplying medicinal materials. However, environmental contaminants like pesticides have profound impact on the ecosystem and the inhabitants. Therefore, it is necessary to understand how pesticides can influence resistance among lethal pest populations, especially in ecologically vulnerable and highly interconnected ecosystems like ocean basins. The authors of the report caution, “These results demonstrate the speed to which this parasite can develop widespread multi-resistance, illustrating why the aquaculture industry has repeatedly lost the arms race with this highly problematic parasite.” Over the past two decades, organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides […]

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Inspector General Blasts Trump’s Politicized EPA, No Announced Plans to Reverse Unscientific Decisions

Friday, May 28th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2021) A report by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concludes that scientific analyses by the agency were altered so as to favor top Trump administration officials’ policy choices in the 2018 reapproval of the highly toxic and problematic pesticide, dicamba. The report, “EPA Deviated from its Typical Procedures in Its 2018 Dicamba Pesticide Registration Decision,” was publicly released on May 24. It confirms aspects of what Beyond Pesticides and many others in the science, advocacy, public health, and environmental communities have been saying and reporting since 2016: the Trump administration executed a wholesale assault on scientific integrity in federal decision making. In its research on the matter, the Inspector General’s office (OIG) reviewed EPA’s 2016 and 2018 decisions on dicamba’s registration, documentation that purported to support those decisions, and the concerns forwarded in the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and by many stakeholders. (See more in figure below.) It also reviewed EPA internal procedures and guidance on pesticide registration, and agency scientific integrity materials; interviewed career scientists and other agency staff; and communicated with EPA’s Scientific Integrity (Science Advisor) program staff. As reported […]

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Exposure to Certain Pesticides Increase the Risk of Thyroid Cancer

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2021) Research by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) finds exposure to lindane and metalaxyl pesticides heightens thyroid cancer risk. Both incidents of non-aggressive thyroid tumors and advanced-stage thyroid cancer are on the rise. However, researchers speculate that environmental pollutants, such as pesticides, may contribute to this increase, especially considering the pervasiveness of pesticide exposure among the general population. Globally, cancer is one of the leading causes of death, with over 8 million people succumbing to the disease every year. Notably, the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) predicts new cancer cases to rise 67.4% by 2030. Various environmental pollutants like pesticides have endocrine (hormone) disruption effects that promote higher instances of thyroid and reproductive cancers. Therefore, studies like these highlight the importance of understanding how pesticide use can increase the risk of latent diseases (e.g., cancers), which do not readily develop upon initial exposure. The researchers state, “More work is needed to understand the potential role of these chemicals in thyroid carcinogenesis.” The European Union and endocrine disruptor expert (deceased) Theo Colborn, Ph.D., classify more than 55 pesticide active ingredients as endocrine disruptors (EDs), including chemicals in household products like detergents, disinfectants, plastics, and pesticides. Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., toxic chemical substances foreign […]

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Stop EPA’s Racist Policies that Disproportionately Harm Farmworker Children’s Brains: Ban Chlorpyrifos

Monday, May 17th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has less than two months to decide whether to cancel or modify its registration of the brain-damaging organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, following a decision from a federal appeals court. The ruling comes after more than a decade of delay from the federal agency tasked with protecting public health and the environment from the hazards of chemicals like chlorpyrifos. The decision now falls to the Biden Administration’s EPA Administrator Michael Regan, after the previous administration reversed a proposal to ban agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos in 2017. Most residential uses of the chemical were banned in 2000.  Tell EPA to ban chlorpyrifos and other neurotoxic pesticides. The target of action by which chlorpyrifos and many other pesticides kill is the nervous system. It is not surprising, then, that pesticides also target the nervous system in humans. They are particularly hazardous to children, who take in greater amounts of pesticides relative to their body weight than adults, and whose developing organ systems are typically more sensitive to toxic exposures. The body of evidence in the scientific literature shows that pesticide exposure can adversely affect a child’s neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems, even at […]

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Advocates Call for Ban of Toxic Pesticides Linked to Deaths from Chemical Suicides

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2021) Scientists are advocating for stricter pesticide bans to lower deaths from deliberate pesticide ingestion. The request for this toxic pesticide ban follows a University of South Australia study detailing discrepancies in World Health Organization (WHO) classifications of pesticide hazards that rely on animal rather than human data. Previous studies demonstrate an increased risk of developing depression, especially among agricultural workers and landscapers who use pesticides. Acute exposure to chemicals, including organophosphate and carbamate pesticides, tends to put farmers at greater risk of suicide than the general population. This research highlights the significance of assessing pesticide toxicity and health effects using human data rather than animals to understand health effects resulting from pesticide exposure. Society tends to rank mental health risks second to physical health. However, pesticide poisonings account for one in five suicides globally. Therefore, it is vital to address the accessibility and necessity of conventional pesticide use to safeguard human well-being, especially in countries lacking adequate chemical regulations. The study’s scientists note, “The human data for acute toxicity of pesticides should drive hazard classifications and regulation. We believe that a global benchmark for registration of pesticides should include a less than 5% case fatality after self-poisoning, which could prevent many […]

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Meta-Review: Pesticides Kill or Harm Soil Invertebrates Essential to Soil Health

Friday, May 7th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2021) Soil health is one of the linchpins on which the food production that sustains human life — as well as biodiversity, pollinator health, and carbon sequestration — depend. A recent meta-review of nearly 400 studies finds that, in 71% of the cases reviewed, pesticides kill or otherwise harm soil invertebrates that contribute mightily to soil health. In their paper, “Pesticides and Soil Invertebrates: A Hazard Assessment,” published in Frontiers in Environmental Science in early May, the researchers write, “A wide variety of soil-dwelling invertebrates display sensitivity to pesticides of all types . . . [These results] support the need for pesticide regulatory agencies to account for the risks that pesticides pose to soil invertebrates and soil ecosystems.” Beyond Pesticides, which has long reported on impacts of pesticides on soil health, concurs with that conclusion, and adds that the real solutions to noxious pesticide impacts lie in the adoption of  regenerative organic approaches to all land management because they obviate any need for petroleum-based toxic chemical controls. The term “pesticide” can refer to myriad kinds of chemical treatments — including antimicrobials, disinfectants, rodenticides, and others — but in the agricultural and land management realms, primarily means insecticides, […]

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