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Health Costs from Chemical Exposures May Exceed 10% of the Global GDP

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2017) A recent study finds that environmental exposures contribute to increasing disease burden and corresponding health costs that may exceed 10% of global gross domestic product (GDP). Neurological impairments particularly add significant costs to both individuals and societies. This European study combined cost calculations for exposures to environmental chemicals, including pesticides, air pollution, and endocrine disrupting substances, and suggests that a shift in priority setting for environmental policy is needed. The study’s authors, from Harvard University, the University of Southern Denmark, and the EHESP School of Public Health in France, say that calculations currently used as international references are “serious underestimations” of the economic costs associated with preventable environmental risk factors. Published in Environmental Health, the study, Calculation of the disease burden associated with environmental chemical exposures: application of toxicological information in health economic estimation, combined and extended cost calculations for exposures to environmental chemicals, including neurotoxicants, pesticides, air pollution, and endocrine disrupting chemicals, where sufficient data were available to determine dose-dependent adverse effects. The study utilized risk valuations to assess the environmental burden of disease, and used country-specific monetary values of metrics for length and quality of life (Disability-Adjusted Life year or DALY – a […]

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At Thanksgiving Dinner, Giving Thanks to Those Who Provide

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22-23, 2017) As we sit with friends and family this Thanksgiving, let us appreciate how our delicious meal got to your table. The turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and cider all originated in fields far from our homes, and those working in those fields deserve our thanks. They deserve our thanks because many of these workers work long hours, under deplorable conditions, and are exposed to pesticides that put their health and that of their families at risk. So, as we enjoy our pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and apple crumble, remember all the hardworking farmworkers who have helped to bring our meal to the Thanksgiving table. At the same time, we give thanks for the environment that is so plentiful and nurturing of life, and remember the importance of pollinators and biodiversity in sustaining life. Celebrating Thanksgiving and looking toward another year coming to an end, provides an opportunity for us to remember to remain vigilant, and raise our voices against efforts to erode our environmental protections that safeguard human health and preserve biodiverse ecosystems. Thanking Farmworkers Farm work is hard and dangerous work. Each year millions of farmworkers, including seasonal and migrant workers, toil in fields across the […]

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Herbicide Caused Antibiotic Resistance Not Regulated

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2017) Both the active and inert ingredients in common herbicides induce antibiotic resistance in human pathogenic bacteria, according to the latest research from New Zealand scientists, published in Microbiology this week.  Previous research from the same team found in 2015 that commercial formulations of Roundup (containing glyphosate and inert ingredients) and Kamba (containing 2,4-D, Dicamba, and inert ingredients) caused antibiotic resistance to develop in Salmonella eterica and Escherichia coli, but this new research drills down into what ingredients in these formulations resulted in the effect. Lead author of the study, Jack Heinemann, PhD, University Canterbury’s School of Biological Sciences, explains that ultimately this research indicates that, “The sub-lethal effects of industrially manufactured chemical products should be considered by regulators when deciding whether the products are safe for their intended use,” Scientists parsed out the effects of individual active and inert ingredients by obtaining pure, technical grade dicamba, 2,4-D, and glyphosate, as well as the inert co-formulants “Tween80” and “CMC,” which are respectively, used to reduce surface tension and regulate the viscosity in a formulated herbicide, though also used as emulsifiers in foods like ice cream and in medicines. The technical grade herbicides were first applied to […]

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Trump Administration Seeks Delay in Court-Ordered Review of Neurotoxic Pesticides

Friday, November 17th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2017) The Trump Administration is asking a federal court to delay a prior agreement that National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issue findings on the risk of three highly toxic organophosphate pesticides to endangered species. The move is widely seen by environmental advocates as influenced by the chemical industry, in particular the new agrichemical conglomerate DowDuPont, which completed a megamerger in September. The Trump Administration’s ongoing willingness to do the bidding of the chemical and pesticide industry means that voters must speak out to their elected representatives to stem the tide of chemical poisonings in the U.S. In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which requires the agency’s pesticide registration process to include consultations with federal wildlife agencies, including NMFS and the Fish and Wildlife Service. In this case, the pesticides in question are chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon, three highly toxic chemicals used as nerve agents during WW2 and registered as pesticides since the 1960s. EPA’s failure to consult with these agencies is a chronic problem in the pesticide registration and review process, leaving critical gaps in the […]

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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. “Studies 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,” 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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Pesticide Residues Difficult to Wash Off Food

Friday, October 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2017) In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists at University of Massachusetts, Amherst identify a novel approach to reduce toxic pesticide residues on conventional food. The method the authors describe is cumbersome and unlikely to be widely used by consumers. At the same time, study results confirm that eating organic products is the best way for individuals and families to eliminate pesticide residues from their diet. For the current study, researchers looked at how much of two common pesticides, one, the fungicide thiobendazole, and the other, the insecticide phosmet, remained on apples after submersion for 24 hours. Both pesticides penetrated the skin of the apples, though thiobendazole, a systemic fungicide, made its way deeper into and past the apple’s skin. Thiabendazole penetrated 80 micrometers into the apple while phosmet penetrated 20 micrometers. Researchers looked at three different methods to reduce the pesticides on apples: tap water, a bleach solution, and baking soda. Compared to the others, baking soda was found to be by far the most effective method to reduce pesticide residue, with 80% of thiabendazole and 95% of phosmet removed. “If factory washing [with bleach] is already effective, then […]

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Extreme Weather Events Create Chemical Health Risks

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2017) Response to the recent and powerful hurricanes that buffeted the Caribbean and continental U.S. focused first and rightly on the acute potential impacts: risks to life and limb; loss of power; damaged transportation systems; food and fuel shortages; exposure to pathogens and infectious diseases (via compromised drinking water, exposure to sewage or wastewater from overwhelmed systems, and simple proximity to other people in storm shelters); damage to and destruction of homes and buildings; and mental health issues. Yet, as has become more evident with the experience of many ferocious and flooding storms in recent memory —Katrina (2005), Ike (2008), Irene (2011), Isaac (2012), Sandy (2012), and Harvey, Irma, José, and Maria (all in 2017)— another significant threat to human health accompanies such events. Processing and storage facilities for petroleum products, pesticides, and other chemicals can be compromised by floodwaters, releasing toxicants into those waters and the soil, and explosions and fires from damaged chemical facilities can add airborne contaminant exposure to the list of risks. The chemicals in floodwaters can also infiltrate into groundwater or water treatment systems, and some can be dragged back out to sea as floodwaters recede. If pesticides, petroleum derivatives, and other […]

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Pesticide-Induced Autism Risk Reduced with Important Vitamin

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2017) Children whose mothers took folic acid while pregnant had a significantly lower risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) even when their mothers were exposed to household or agricultural pesticides. Researchers at the University of California, Davis found that taking folic acid during the window around conception, reduced the risk of pesticide-induced autism. In the study, “Combined Prenatal Pesticide Exposure and Folic Acid Intake in Relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder,” children whose mothers took 800 or more micrograms of folic acid (the amount in most prenatal vitamins) had a significantly lower risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, even when their mothers were exposed to household or agricultural pesticides that are associated with increased risk. The study used data from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study, where researchers looked at 296 children between 2 and 5 who had been diagnosed with ASD and 220 who had developed typically. Mothers were interviewed about their household pesticide exposure during pregnancy, as well as their folic acid and B vitamin intake. The team also linked data from California Pesticide Use reports, which provided important details about agricultural spraying, with the mothers’ addresses. The results […]

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Farmers’ Greater Risk of Diabetes Linked to Pesticide Exposure

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, September, 2017) A recently released report, Gallup-Sharecare State of Well-Being: The Face of Diabetes in the United States, looks at high diabetes rates across various U.S. demographic groups, including those in farming. People working in the transportation sector registered the highest incidence of diagnosed diabetes at 10.6%. But those working as farmers and fishermen came in second, with 8.5% reporting a diagnosis of the disease. Based on a self-reporting survey, The Face of Diabetes in the United States did not differentiate between Type 1 diabetes (which typically manifests in childhood or young adulthood) and Type 2 diabetes (which commonly emerges in adulthood). It did, however, consider lifestyle risk factors that can influence development of each form of the disease. The “farmer and fisher” folks placed more-or-less in the mid-range among all occupations vis-à-vis several of the lifestyle factors that can impact development of the disease (smoking, diet, and obesity), and a bit higher in alcohol consumption, but in fact, reported more exercise than any other category of worker. These data points would seem to suggest that farmers would be at less risk than those in some other occupational categories. For instance, those working in “installation and repair” reported […]

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Birth Abnormalities Linked to Pesticide Exposures

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2017) Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara report in a new study that exposure to pesticides as a result of living near agricultural areas increases the risk of giving birth to a baby with abnormalities. These results are more significant for those exposed to very high levels of pesticides, underscoring the continued risks faced by farmworkers and farmworker families, especially mothers living near chemically-intensive treated fields. The study, “Agricultural pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes in the San Joaquin Valley of California,” looked at individual birth and demographic characteristics for over 500,000 birth observations between 1997 and 2011 in the agriculturally dominated San Joaquin Valley, California. The researchers, who report their findings as, “the most comprehensive to date, bringing together the largest data file ever compiled on street-address level birth outcomes and fine scale exposure to agricultural pesticides,” analyzed residential agricultural pesticide exposure during gestation, by trimester, and by toxicity influences on birth outcomes: birth weight, gestational length, or birth abnormalities. Adverse birth outcomes increased by 5–9% among those exposed to very high quantities of pesticides (e.g., top 5th percentile, i.e., ~4,200 kg per square mile applied over gestation). According to the results, “ The magnitude of effects were further enlarged […]

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Neurotoxic Pesticide Detected in Air at High Levels in California County

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2017) Air monitoring in Kern County, California, finds levels of the highly neurotoxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, in excess of the levels of concern established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for pregnant women. Chlorpyrifos is linked to low IQs, autism and other developmental neurological effects. Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt refused to ban chlorpyrifos to the dismay of many scientists, medical professionals, and farmworker organizations. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) released its 2016 air monitoring data where it was revealed that chlorpyrifos air concentrations for a one-month period at the air monitoring site on the campus of Shafter High School in Kern County was 39.4 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) – more than 18 times higher than EPA’s level of concern for pregnant women (2.1 ng/m3).  Shafter High School is some distance from fields in an area where chlorpyrifos use is not as high as in other parts of Kern County or elsewhere in California. More than 1.1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos was used in California in 2015, and more than a quarter of that is used in Kern County. High chlorpyrifos levels at a school means that children and unsuspecting teachers and […]

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Take Action: Back-to-School; Stop the Toxic Pesticide Use

Monday, August 28th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2017) School policies must protect children from pesticides by adopting organic land and building management policies and serving organic food in cafeterias. At the start of the school year, it is critical for school administrators to make sure that students and teachers are learning and teaching in an environment where no hazardous pesticides are used in the school’s buildings or on playing fields. It is also essential that children have access to organic food in food programs and manage school gardens organically. Send a letter to your local officials urging them to tell school districts to adopt organic management and serve organic food to students. In addition, there are other things you can do: Whether a parent, teacher, student, school administrator, landscaper or community advocate, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the school environment is a safe from toxic chemicals, as the new school year begins. For Parents and Teachers: Because children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure due to their smaller size and developing organ systems, using toxic pesticides to get control insects, germs, and weeds can harm students much more than it helps. The good news is that these poisons are unnecessary, given the availability of […]

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Ask Your Senators to Co-Sponsor Bill to Ban Chlorpyrifos, the Neurotoxic Pesticide that Harms Children—After EPA Reversal

Monday, August 14th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2017) Ask your U.S. Senators to co-sponsor legislation to ban the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed the previous administration’s proposal to discontinue its food uses. [The bill is currently co-sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).] With EPA’s own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is time for Congress to intervene to get this highly toxic pesticide off the market. In March 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed a 2015 proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos. A revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances would have effectively banned the chemical from use in agriculture. Instead, Administrator Pruitt’s decision indicated the agency will continue to study chlorpyrifos and would not take any action until 2022. EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have developmental delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. In 2016, EPA concluded […]

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Bill to Ban Neurotoxic Chlorpyrifos Introduced in the U.S. Senate

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2017) Earlier this week U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a bill that would ban use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos. The Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act, S. 1624, comes one week after an appeals court refused to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make a decision over whether to ban the chemical. Removing this neurotoxic insecticide from the environment would significantly reduce health risks for children and farmworkers in underserved rural communities, build pressure to address all toxic organophosphates, and help push U.S. agriculture in a more sustainable direction. As with other organophosphate class chemicals, chlorpyrifos, first registered in 1965 by Dow Chemical, is derived from nerve agents used during World War 2. The chemical is linked to a range of negative health and environmental outcomes that warrant its prohibition. Children are at particular risk from the chemical due to their developing immune, organ, and nervous systems.  As with other organophosphate nerve agents, the chemical acts on the body’s nervous system, inhibiting the movement of neurotransmitters called cholinesterase. Chlorpyrifos chemically binds to the site where cholinesterase would in the body, preventing normal nerve impulse transmission. […]

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Doctor in South Florida Sues to Block Hazardous Mosquito Spray

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2017) South Florida resident Michael Hall, M.D., filed an emergency request in federal court last week to block Miami-Dade County’s continued use of the organophosphate insecticide naled to control mosquito populations. There have been two rounds of aerial naled applications in Miami-Dade this year. Widespread use of the chemical in efforts to control the transmission of Zika last year prompted protests from residents complaining of health effects from the spraying, and calls to focus on less toxic, alternative methods of mosquito breeding prevention and control. The present use of naled in Miami-Dade is not focused on Zika control, but addressing the native salt marsh mosquito, which does not transmit human diseases, but can be a significant nuisance in shoreline areas. According to WLRN, officials are no longer using naled for Zika control as the mosquito species that carries it, Aedes aegypti, usually stays well hidden under vegetation and shrubbery. A study released last year confirmed that the county’s use of naled did little to reduce mosquito populations. “Naled, a potent organophosphate adulticide applied aerially, produced a transitory suppression in Wynwood but lost efficacy after two or three applications. In Miami Beach, aerial application of naled produced […]

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Did Dow Chemical Influence the EPA Administrator’s Decision to Reverse Chlorpyrifos Ban?

Friday, June 30th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, June 30, 2017) Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), met privately with Dow Chemical’s CEO several weeks before reversing EPA’s tentative decision to ban chlorpyrifos, according to records recently obtained by the Associated Press (AP). A copy of Mr. Pruitt’s schedule reveals he met with Dow CEO, Andrew Liveris, on March 9 at a Houston hotel and “twenty days later Pruitt announced his decision to deny a petition to ban Dow’s chlorpyrifos pesticide from being sprayed on food.” At a hearing this week, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) pressed Mr. Pruitt to name a peer-reviewed study that indicates that chlorpyrifos is safe. Mr. Pruitt answered by saying that “he had relied on ‘interagency dialogue’ with USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] before denying the petition to ban the chemical.” In a congressional hearing earlier this month regarding chlorpyrifos’ safety, Mr. Pruitt stated that his decision was founded on “meaningful data and meaningful science.” However, AP followed up with EPA to provide details on this science, and Mr. Pruitt’s office replied with quotes from trade groups and USDA, but failed to provide any scientific studies on the chemical’s safety. In March 2017, in an about-face, EPA’s Administrator […]

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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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Groups, AGs Challenge EPA Decision to Allow Insecticide Chlorpyrifos in Agriculture

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2017) On Monday, numerous organizations filed an administrative appeal to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seeking to reverse Scott Pruitt’s order to continue allowing the toxic organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos in agriculture, and revoke all tolerances (allowed food residues) of the chemical. On the same day, Attorneys General (AGs) from seven states announced legal objections to Scott Pruitt’s order, also calling for a reversal of the decision and a revocation of all tolerances. Allowing the continued use of chlorpyrifos runs counter to findings of independent science and EPA’s own scientists, which establish unacceptable risks to humans and the environment. The administrative appeal, filed by Earthjustice on behalf of 12 environmental, labor, and civil rights organizations, resulted from the decision by EPA to allow the use of chlorpyrifos while it studies the safety of the chemical. The seven AGs, in their filing, are charging that EPA wrongfully approved the continued use of chlorpyrifos in agriculture without first gathering and assessing the full safety data, as required by the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Many environmental groups spoke out in favor of these filings. “There’s a good reason this dangerous toxin has been banned from indoor use for more […]

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Pruitt’s EPA Delays New Rules to Protect Pesticide Applicators

Monday, May 15th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2017) Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the direction of new Administrator Scott Pruitt, announced that it will delay for one year the implementation of a final rule that revised and updated protections for certified pesticide applicators –the workers who apply the most hazardous pesticides, restricted used pesticides. The new rules require increased training for certified applicators and increase the minimum age of a worker to 18 years, updates to which industry has objected. Against the backdrop of recent high-profile poisonings, the delay requested by industry interests places these workers and the public at continued risk. The Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule was made final on January 4, 2017, revising regulations regarding the certification of applicators of restricted use pesticides (RUPs). The rule was scheduled to go into effect March 6, 2017, but was delayed to March 21, 2017 by the new Trump Administration, which placed a mandatory freeze on all new regulations coming out of federal agencies. Now the Pruitt-led EPA states in the notice that it has “determined that the effective date of the revised Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule should be extended until May 22, 2018. EPA is taking this […]

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Exposure to Heavy Pesticide Use Can Impact Neurobehavioral Performance in Children

Friday, May 12th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2017) Researchers from the University of California San Diego, School of Medicine, in collaboration with scientists from Ecuador and Minnesota, have found that exposure to heavy pesticide use during peak periods can impact neurobehavioral performance in children. The study focused on exposure to organophosphate pesticides, which have been associated with a broad range of diseases in both children and adults. The study, published in NeuroToxicology, involved 308 non-worker Ecuadorian children between the ages of 4 and 9. Neurobehavioral performance for each child was tested once between 63 and 100 days after the Mother’s Day flower harvest, which is a period of high pesticide use in Ecuador. The researchers found that children examined sooner after Mother’s Day had lower scores than children who were tested later. “Children examined sooner after the flower harvest displayed lower performance on most measures, such as attention, self-control, visuospatial processing (the ability to perceive and interact with our visual world) and sensorimotor (eye-hand coordination) compared to children examined later in a time of lower flower production and pesticide use,” said Jose R. Suarez-Lopez, MD, PhD, and lead author of the study, to ScienceBlog. Dr. Suarez-Lopez continued, “This discovery is novel because it […]

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Infected Mosquito Trial Launched Against Zika and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Monday, May 1st, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2017) The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District released 20,000 male mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria near Key West, as a trial strategy to manage mosquitoes that carry Zika and other viruses. The district and others have been exploring new ways to suppress infected Aedes aegypti mosquito populations, which thrive in urban environments and can spread Zika, dengue fever, and chikungunya. It is unclear what impacts, if any, these infected mosquitoes will have on non-target organisms or public health. The trial is the second U.S. test conducted with the naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, developed by the Kentucky-based company MosquitoMate. The first test occurred in Clovis, California, last year. In September 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which registers mosquito control products, approved and expanded an experimental use permit (EUP) for Wolbachia pipientis-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (not to be confused with genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes).  According to the agency, Wolbachia are naturally occurring bacteria commonly found in most insect species, but not in the Aedes aegypti. This strain of Wolbachia is extracted from Aedes albopictus embryos and microinjected into Aedes aegypti embryos. Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are shipped to testing sites where they are released and mate with wild-type Aedes aegypti females that do not carry Wolbachia. After mating, the […]

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Dow Urges Trump Administration to Ignore Pesticide Impacts on Endangered Species

Monday, April 24th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2017) After contributing $1 million to Donald Trump’s presidential festivities, pesticide maker Dow Chemical Co. is asking the Administration to set aside previous findings of federal scientists across multiple agencies that confirm the risks that organophosphate pesticides pose to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species. This comes after the Administration abandoned plans to restrict the brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos, also an organophosphate pesticide created by Dow, despite mountains of evidence that show the chemical’s neurotoxic impacts on children’s brains. In letters sent to government officials, lawyers for Dow urge Administration officials and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set aside “biological evaluations” that detail how three highly toxic organophosphate insecticides –chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon– harm nearly all 1,800 threatened and endangered animals and plants, claiming the process to be “fundamentally flawed.” Federal agencies tasked with protecting endangered species –EPA, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture– have worked for years to identify the risks posed by pesticides to threatened and endangered species under to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under Section 7 of ESA, states that any agency action must find that it “is not likely to jeopardize […]

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Environmental Groups Turn Back to the Courts to Ban Chlorpyrifos

Friday, April 7th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2017) On Wednesday, Earthjustice, representing the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) turned to the courts to order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban chlorpyrifos. Their action comes on the heels of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision last week to reject the conclusions of EPA scientists and reverse a proposed agency decision to revoke food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos. In the new petition, the environmental groups assert that, “Because EPA has sidestepped this Court’s orders and failed to act on the substance of the petition, PAN/NRDC respectfully ask the Court to [give] EPA 30 days to act on its findings that chlorpyrifos exposures are unsafe and to establish deadlines for the next steps in the revocation and cancellation process.” In an interview with The Intercept, Patti Goldman, managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Northwest regional office in Seattle, WA, stated that, “It’s outrageous that the new EPA administrator would reject the scientific findings of its own agency and defy the law and court orders to keep this nasty pesticide on the market.” In its most recent analysis of chlorpyrifos, EPA determined that children between one and two years of age […]

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