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Adding to Similar Findings, Organophosphate Insecticide Linked to Depression and Suicide, Farm to Home

Tuesday, July 16th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2024) Yet another study in the August 2024 journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety has found that exposure to organophosphorus pesticides (OPPs) is correlated with increased suicidal thoughts in some people. This study is just the latest in a long line of studies from around the world that have linked pesticide exposure to mental health conditions, including sleep disorders, depression, and suicidal ideation (SI). As the rate of suicide increased by 30% between 2000 and 2020, there is an urgent public health need to investigate and address all potential contributing factors. A 2019 study, covered in Daily News, found that teens and adolescents living in agricultural areas and exposed to organophosphate (OP) insecticides are at higher risk of depression, In July and January this year, other studies link farmer psychiatric episodes to pesticide exposure, adding to the body of science. Exposure to household pesticides is also linked to depression in a 2020 study.   Study and Methodology  The study entitled “Association between exposure to organophosphorus pesticide and suicidal ideation among U.S. adults: A population-based study,” analyzes information on the mental and physical health of over 5,000 individuals aged 20 and up in the United States. The study aims […]

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Pesticide Contaminated Cannabis in California Reveals Testing and Regulatory Failures

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2024) Last month, California cannabis regulators recalled a pesticide-tainted vape, one of the contaminated products identified in a Los Angeles Times investigation. The report reveals that the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) has for months been aware of the presence of dangerous chemicals in legal cannabis sold to the public. Conducted by Los Angeles Times and WeedWeek, a cannabis industry newsletter, the investigation has uncovered alarming levels of the insecticide chlorfenapyr in legal cannabis products sold in state dispensaries. According to an article via the National Institutes of Health, “Although [chlorfenapyr] has been identified as a moderately toxic pesticide by the World Health Organization (WHO), the mortality rate of poisoned patients is extremely high. There is no specific antidote for chlorfenapyr poisoning.” The chemical is associated with adverse liver effects and is toxic to bees, birds, and aquatic organisms. Despite claims that the state’s cannabis is safe and regulated, many popular brands of vapes and pre-rolled joints were found to contain dangerous pesticides at levels exceeding state limits and federal standards for tobacco. This investigation comes on the heels of the discovery of large amounts of illegal Chinese pesticides at cannabis grow operations around the state. […]

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Take Action: Elimination of the Insecticide Is Both a Public Health and Ecosystem Issue

Monday, July 8th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2024) Please submit comments by Wednesday, July 31, 2024. Acephate, an insecticide and member of the highly toxic organophosphate (OP) family, is so toxic that EPA is proposing to ban all uses except the systemic injection into trees. A comment period is open, and EPA is accepting comments through Wednesday, July 31, after extending the earlier July deadline. With this remaining use, EPA is still not recognizing that systemic neonicotinoid pesticides can cause serious environmental harm to the ecosystem through indiscriminate poisoning of organisms. >> Submit a comment on acephate and tell EPA that no pesticide should be allowed to be used if the crop can be produced organically.  EPA proposes to cancel all uses of acephate other than tree injection to eliminate all risks of concern it has identified that exceed its level of concern for dietary/drinking water risk, residential and occupational risks, and risks to non-target organisms. As Beyond Pesticides points out, although the tree injection method does not pose excessive dietary or aggregate health risk and does not pose any untoward occupational or post-application human health risks of concern, there are significant ecological risks posed that the agency has neglected. Rather than assessing the ecological risks of tree […]

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Environmental and Trade Groups Successfully Call for End to Pesticide Company Alliance with UN-FAO

Friday, July 5th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2024) After years of advocacy against corporate interference in global pesticide policy, the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) has ended its “strategic partnership” with petrochemical pesticide and fertilizer trade association CropLife International. This decision, which allows the expiration of a 2020 Letter of Intent (LoI), was announced in a June press release by a coalition of international public interest, environmental, and trade groups. The organizations objected to the partnership from the inception of the agreement and has issued objections, including in 2022 and covered by Daily News. The signatories to the release last month believe that this severing of ties with the chemical industry will contribute to building momentum from frontline communities for “sustainable, resilient and equitable production systems under the agroecological paradigm.” The groups say, however, “We remain concerned about the FAO’s continuing informal engagements with CropLife and call for greater transparency and accountability in this regard.” Beyond Pesticides has urged that models for change, whether advanced by FAO or other international or national institutions, must embrace clear definitions and standards that are certified and enforceable in order to reverse the existential threats to health, biodiversity, and climate from petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers. […]

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Recent Studies Continue To Highlight Connection Between Depression and Suicide in Pesticide-Exposed Farmers

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2024) Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, which took place last month, evokes concern about the growing body of science linking pesticide exposure to neurological effects linked to depression. Recent studies reveal elevated rates of psychiatric disorders, including suicide, among farmers, with problems more common for males.  Through systematic reviews, meta-analyses, surveys and interviews, and blood sampling, these three studies add to the growing body of science linking pesticide exposure to neurological impacts. First, in the Journal of Agromedicine, researchers from Greece and the United Kingdom review eight studies and find a significant positive association between pesticide poisoning and depression in agricultural populations.1 Second, a study in Toxicology shows a link between depression in Brazilian farmers and pesticide exposure, most notably with glyphosate usage.2 Third, the latest study in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology focuses on work by researchers from Spain in identifying farmers exposed to chlorpyrifos, mancozeb, and malathion that have higher rates of depressive symptoms and suicide attempts.3  Through a meta-analysis of published research, the authors of the Agromedicine journal article identify pesticide poisoning as a risk factor of depression. With depression affecting more than 264 million individuals worldwide, this is a field of interest with […]

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Seeds Coated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides Again Identified as an Important Factor in Butterfly Decline

Friday, June 28th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2024) Most people don’t like bugs, but the fact is that insects form the foundation of human flourishing, both for their ecosystems services, like pollination of food crops, and for their aesthetic joys. But insect populations globally are declining two to four percent a year, with total losses over 20 years of 30-50 percent, according to a new study of the interacting effects of pesticides, climate, and land use changes on insects’ status in the Midwest. Teasing out the relative influence of these stressors has been a major obstacle in determining the causes of the declines and ways to mitigate them. The icon of insect beauty in the U.S. is the monarch butterfly, whose vibrant coloring, elegant form, and spectacular migrations inspire everyone. Beyond Pesticides has covered the distressing decline of these creatures, most recently in the June 24 Daily News. Monarchs prefer milkweed plants, but also visit many other flowers. Milkweed often grows along the margins of fields, so monarchs are widely exposed to pesticides and habitat disturbances associated with agriculture. The new study was published in PLoS One by a team of scientists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Michigan State University, […]

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Cross-Sectional Study Finds Connection Between Pesticide Exposure and Alzheimer’s Disease

Wednesday, June 5th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, June 5, 2024) Individuals living near chemical-intensive agricultural environments have heightened risk of Alzheimer’s disease relative to the general population, according to a study published earlier this year in Psychiatry Research. This finding builds on existing peer-reviewed studies that document the relationship between chronic pesticide exposure and elevated risk of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Huntington’s disease. In light of the mountains of scientific evidence, advocates continue to demand for a wholesale transformation of agricultural and land management systems to one based in organic principles in alignment with the U.S. National Organic Program. Study Analysis This study was published online on May 1, 2024 with the full entry to be published in July 2024. The researchers are physicians, health professionals, and professors at the University of Almeria in southern Spain, specifically working in the Health Research Center and the Department of Nursing, Physiotherapy and Medicine. There is also a researcher, Cristofer Ruiz-GonzĂĄlez, who works at the TorrecĂĄrdenas University Hospital also located in Almeria, Spain. Researchers gathered case information from over 40,000 patients between 2000 and 2021 living in demarcated health care districts with high and low levels of […]

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Weed Killers Dicamba and 2,4-D Found in Pregnant Women in Midwest USA, Linked to Serious Effects

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2024) In a first-of-its kind series of biomonitoring studies published in Agrochemicals, researchers identified the presence of the herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D in all pregnant participants from both cohorts in 2010-2012 and 2020-2022. The findings from this research are not surprising given the explosion of toxic petrochemical pesticides in the Midwest region of the United States. “The overall level of dicamba use (kilograms applied in one hundred thousands) in the U.S. has increased for soybeans since 2015 and slightly increased for cotton and corn,” the authors report, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service surveys. “The overall level of 2,4-D use (kilograms applied in one hundred thousands) in the U.S. was highest in 2010 for wheat, soybeans, and corn. The amount of 2,4-D applied increased the most for soybeans and corn from 2010 to 2020.” The researchers focused on the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, given the increase in dicamba and 2,4-D during the study period for both cohorts (2010-2022). The researchers are based at Indiana University School of Medicine in the Department of Biostatistics and Health Data Science and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Quebec Toxicology Center within the Institut national […]

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Pesticide Use Again Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, This Time Among Applicators and Their Spouses

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2024) A study published recently in the journal Environmental Research finds a significant correlation between exposure to certain pesticides and an elevated risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic autoimmune condition of the gastrointestinal tract. The study, adding to the body of science on this subject, evaluates self-reported data from licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses exposed to pesticides for over 20 years. In addition, while some of the chemicals found to be most closely associated with incidents of IBD have been banned from use, they are “forever” chemicals that persist in the environment for generations. These findings demonstrate once again the failings of the current regulatory process to identify hazards before they are put into the environment. The study found evidence that exposure to several organochlorine insecticides (dieldrin, DDT, and toxaphene), as well as organophosphate insecticides (parathion, terbufos, and phorate) and herbicides (2,4,5-T, 2,4,5-TP, and metolachlor), is associated with elevated IBD risk. IBD is a generic term for diseases that result in chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It is estimated that 6.8 million patients globally suffered from IBD in 2017. IBD may result from an imbalance […]

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Prenatal, Childhood Exposure to Toxic Pesticides Linked to Neurodevelopment Issues

Monday, May 13th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2024) A study published in Environmental Research finds that “early life organophosphate pesticide exposure has been linked with poorer neurodevelopment from infancy to adolescence.” Researchers in this study acknowledge that there is still much more to be done in furthering understanding of “neural mechanisms underlying these associations,” and yet there is “notable consistency” in their Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) birth cohort study. This study’s findings are consistent with decades of substantial, peer-reviewed scientific literature documenting the adverse health impacts of organophosphate pesticides on public and ecological health. Organic advocates believe that a transition away from chemical-intensive agriculture and land management is the most viable solution to avoid adverse health impacts and end reliance on toxic chemicals in households and communities. The researchers for this study are based at the University of California, Berkley (Center for Environmental Research and Community Health as well as Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research), Department of Public Health at University of California, Merced, and Stanford University (Departments of Radiology and Pediatrics in the School of Medicine). “We have reported associations of prenatal [organophosphate] exposure with poorer cognitive function and executive function, and more attention and […]

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EPA Proposes to Stop Most Uses of Highly Toxic Insecticide in Food and Water, But Open to Negotiating

Wednesday, May 8th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2024) In an unexpected turnaround, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced at the end of April a Proposed Interim Decision (PID) to discontinue all but one application of the insecticide acephate. Acephate is an organophosphate pesticide, a well-known neurotoxicant, widely banned globally, including in the European Union. Under the proposal, all uses would end except for the injection of trees that do not produce fruit or nuts. In its proposed action, EPA asks the manufacturer to offer the agency a voluntary settlement, a process that typically compromises the health of the public, workers, and the environment. Acephate, an organophosphate (OP) pesticide, is approved for use in both agricultural settings, including crops like cotton and soybeans, and nonagricultural applications, such as injections for forestry trees. Acephate affects the nervous system by inhibiting the acetylcholinesterase (AChE) enzyme. Importantly, chronic, low levels of exposure can cause a range of adverse human health outcomes, from cancer to birth defects, reproductive and developmental problems, and learning disabilities. While the proposed April interim decision, if it comes to pass, is welcomed by advocates, some are concerned that EPA’s proposal does not fully critique the scientific documents and conclusions on risk that […]

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Parkinson’s Disease Explodes as Researchers Find Connection to Pesticide Exposure and Genes

Friday, May 3rd, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2024) Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the world after Alzheimer’s. Genetic factors account for only a fraction of PD cases, and for decades scientists have been aware of associations between pesticide exposures and PD. Yet, not everyone exposed to pesticides gets PD. Consequently, neither the genetic nor the environmental hypothesis is fully satisfactory; both may be involved. Thus, there has been great interest in identifying gene variants that affect the risks of PD associated with pesticide exposure. Now a team of University of California at Los Angeles researchers led by neurologist Brent Fogel, MD, PhD has traced a connection between certain gene variants and the occurrence and severity of PD in a cohort of central California PD patients who have had long-term exposure to pesticides. The genes are related to autophagy, the process by which cells organize, degrade, recycle or eject molecules to maintain healthy chemical balance. Autophagy is an essential process throughout the body, including regulation of mitochondria, which are also vital for healthy cellular function. The study supports other research suggesting that autophagy is disturbed in neurodegenerative diseases. As Beyond Pesticides discussed in its April 19 Daily News, PD […]

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More Data Finds Long-Term Exposure to Toxic Pesticides Alters Human Gut Microbiome and Metabolism

Friday, April 26th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2024) Researchers build on existing research when assessing the relationship between long-term exposure to organophosphorus pesticides—widely used in food production and homes and gardens—and the human gut microbiome. In a new study published in Environmental Health, an interdisciplinary research team from University of California, Los Angeles determined, “that exposure to [organophosphorus pesticides] is associated with changes in the abundance of several bacterial groups and differential functional capacity in metabolic pathways supported by the human gut microbiome.” The study draws upon data from a “Parkinson’s, Environment and Gene study (PEG)” in which 190 participants were asked to submit fecal samples and answer interview questions. “[The study] was initially designed to investigate the etiology of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and participants were recruited in two study waves [‘over the full 10-year exposure window’]: 2001–2007 and 2012–2017. At baseline, [Parkinson’s disease] patients were diagnosed within the past 5 years and randomly selected community controls were also recruited,” the research team shares in their Methodology section. “Since 2017, we invited previous study participants who could be contacted to enroll in a pilot study of the gut microbiome. In addition, we invited a household or community member of [Parkinson’s] patients to participate.” […]

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Wide Range of Harmful Effects of Pesticides Documented in Literature Review

Thursday, April 25th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 25, 2024) In a study from earlier this year, “Pesticides: An alarming detrimental to health and environment,” scientists compiled research from 154 articles regarding pesticide use and the adverse effects they have on the environment and human health. Among the effects of the harmful pesticides described is genotoxicity—the alteration of genetic material that results in the mutations in DNA that cause cancer.  The authors state that “genotoxins are mutagenic chemicals, and exposure to them increases the risk of developing tumors, hormonal changes, DNA damage, and changes in the ovaries and eggs, all of which leading to cancers… The risk of DNA damage surges with increased genotoxicity in people exposed to pesticides.” In addition, the National Institute of Health states that all “pesticides are highly biologically active chemicals. They may interact with DNA and damage its structure.” Despite these documented risks, pesticide use continues to surge.  While phased out to a considerable extent after being widely used in agriculture and residential areas, organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) or its breakdown compound dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) continue to show up as residues in the environment and food supply. Symptoms in humans that have been exposed to these chemicals include: seizures, […]

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Bill Seeks to Eliminate Inequities for Child Farmworkers, But Leaves Weak EPA Pesticide Standards in Place

Friday, March 29th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2024) Last week during National Agriculture Week, U.S. Senator Ben Ray LujĂĄn (D-NM) introduced S.4038, the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety (CARE), aiming to elevate labor standards for young workers in the agricultural sector, as protection from pesticides remains weak. Currently, agriculture stands as the sole industry that permits children—as young as 12 years old—to work without significant limits on their hours of employment outside of school time. This scenario is a reality for hundreds of thousands of children across the U.S., who undertake the demanding tasks of planting, harvesting, processing, and packaging the food produced nationwide. The CARE Act proposes to align the age and working hour criteria for underage workers in agriculture with those enforced in other sectors. Additionally, the legislation seeks to toughen both civil and criminal penalties for violations of child labor laws and to enhance safeguards for children against the risks of pesticide exposure. It is important to note, however, that the CARE Act would exempt farm-owning families, allowing their children to work on the family farm under the current guidelines. Exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) currently allow children to work unlimited hours, outside of school  hours, […]

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Disproportionate Pesticide Hazards to Farmworkers and People of Color Documented. . .Again

Friday, February 16th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2024) A report released in January, US pesticide regulation is failing the hardest-hit communities. It’s time to fix it, finds “people of color and low-income communities in the United States and around the world continue to shoulder the societal burden of harmful pollution.” More specifically, the authors state that “ongoing environmental injustice is the disproportionate impact these communities suffer from pesticides, among the most widespread environmental pollutants.” The report follows an earlier article by the same lead authors and others (see earlier coverage) on the long history of documented hazards and government failure to protect farmworkers from pesticide use in agriculture. In a piece posted by Beyond Pesticides earlier this week, the serious weaknesses in the worker protection standard for farmworkers are documented.   The latest report was led by Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center for Biological Diversity and Robert Bullard, known as the “Father of Environmental Justice” and executive director of the Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University in Houston. In addition to these authors, the 2022 review was coauthored by Jeannie Economos of the Farmworker Association of Florida, Iris Figueroa of Farmworker Justice, Jovita […]

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Pesticides’ Role in Lower Sperm Counts and Reproductive Harm in Men Again in Science Literature

Wednesday, January 10th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2024) Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) negatively impacts testicular function and may cause sperm count declines over time, according to a 2022 review published in Endocrine. The findings indicate that this occurs regardless of whether exposure is prenatal (before birth) or postnatal (after birth). More recent work from October 2023 confirms the connection between male reproductive health and exposure to organophosphate and carbamate insecticides and the weed killer glyphosate—as many pesticide products containing these chemicals are classifiable as endocrine disruptors (ED). Just last year, a meta-analysis from researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the University of Copenhagen, among others, finds that the drop in global sperm count is accelerating, dropping by 51.6 percent from 1973 through 2018. The U.S. regulatory system, under the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has not kept pace with the science and does not fully evaluate pesticides in wide use for endocrine disruption, despite a requirement in 1996 law (the Food Quality Protection Act) to begin that testing and evaluation nearly three decades ago. In 2021, Beyond Pesticides reported that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for EPA issued a damning report on the […]

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Study Confirms Connection Between Exposure to Pesticides and Male Reproductive Problems

Friday, December 1st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2023) Even though researchers have noted since the 1970s that human fertility appears to be declining globally, doubt is still circulating that it is really happening and that pesticides could have anything to do with it. Very recently published studies, however, make it clear that, even without exact elucidation of the mechanisms by which pesticides damage male fertility, there is an unmistakable association of pesticides and many aspects of male reproductive health. One of the new studies, a meta-analysis of 25 studies on the connection between pesticides and male reproductive problems, finds that men exposed to organophosphate (such as glyphosate and malathion) and carbamate (such as carbaryl and methiocarb) insecticides have lower sperm concentrations than the general population. This is especially true of men exposed in work settings. The senior author of the study, Melissa J. Perry,ScD of the George Mason University College of Public Health, told HealthNews, “The evidence available has reached a point that we must take regulatory action to reduce insecticide exposure.” Human infertility is defined as “the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” Most public attention regarding infertility focuses on women’s difficulties in getting […]

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Plant-Based Diets: Beneficial for the Environment But Potentially High in Pesticides?

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2023) According to a study in the Scientific Reports Journal, plant-forward diets might increase exposure to pesticide residues compared to meat-heavy diets. However, a switch to organic plant-based options significantly reduces this risk, with a separate research study indicating that vegetarians and vegans—often favoring organic products—are generally less exposed to synthetic pesticides than omnivores. The study also corroborates other research emphasizing the environmental benefits of plant-based diets, advocating for policies that make organic plant-based foods more widely accessible and emphasizing their crucial role in enhancing both environmental and human health.   Plant-based diets are increasingly popular—and with good reason. The intensification of animal agriculture is a major cause of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and high water usage. In particular, Brazil accounts for one-third of global tropical deforestation, with 80% of this deforestation in the Amazon due to cattle ranching. Additionally, animal products like fish, eggs, and meat, responsible for about 83% of land use, supply only 37% of the global protein. Numerous studies suggest that reducing meat and animal product consumption can significantly mitigate environmental impacts, particularly regarding land use and greenhouse gas emissions. However, managed grazing in organic animal agriculture reduces many of the hazards […]

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Erectile Dysfunction Among Younger Males Linked to Pesticide Exposures

Thursday, November 16th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2023) A study published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation finds exposure to the insecticide chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates (OPs) has a positive association with the development of erectile dysfunction (ED). Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is the difficulty of getting or keeping an erection. Despite occurring in males later in life (between 40 and 70 years), recent studies highlight this issue emerging among adolescents, highlighting possible hormone imbalances not associated with age. Scientists and health officials already associate pesticide exposure with a decrease in male fertility, including reduced sperm count, quality, and abnormal sperm development. Exposure to many pesticides also profoundly impacts the endocrine (hormone) system, including reproductive health. Globally, ED is increasing, with over 300 million men expected to have ED by 2025. Although age and comorbid conditions (e.g., obesity, diabetes, and hypertension) play a role in ED prognosis, studies, including this one, suggest environmental contaminant exposure can also explain the increasing trend in ED. The study notes, “Future studies are warranted to corroborate these findings, determine clinical significance, and to investigate biological mechanisms underlying these associations.” Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers investigated urinary levels of 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPy), […]

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Protection of Children from Pesticides under Threat in Farm Bill Negotiations, Data Shows

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2023) Two-hundred-foot pesticide spray “buffer zones” around 4,028 U.S. elementary schools contiguous to crop fields—according to data evaluated by Environmental Working Group—are threatened by potential Farm Bill amendments now under consideration. Legislative language, if adopted, would take away (preempt) the authority of states and local jurisdictions to protect children and restrict agricultural pesticides used near schools. Pesticide drift is a widespread problem throughout the U.S. that has attracted national attention in recent years because of crop damage caused by the weed killer dicamba in numerous midwestern states. In the face of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to mitigate drift hazards, states enact limits on when and how pesticides can be used, establish buffer zones around application sites, and in some cases, ban uses. In 2018, Arkansas banned dicamba use from mid-April through the end of October (and survived a Monsanto challenge to the ban. For a historical perspective on the drift issue, see Getting the Drift on Pesticide Trespass. Children, in particular, face unique risks from pesticide and toxic chemical exposures. Due to their smaller body size, they absorb a higher relative amount of pesticides through the food they consume and the air they breathe. Additionally, children’s developing […]

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Elevated Asthma Risk from Chlorpyrifos and Organophosphates Reported as Court Rolls Back Protections

Wednesday, November 8th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2023) A study published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research finds organophosphate pesticides (OPs) are linked to an increased asthma prevalence. The study was released just before an 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals November 3 decision vacating EPA’s 2021 decision to cancel all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos and sending it back to the agency. (Required by a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in April 2021 to take action, EPA issued a final rule in August, 2021—in full effect February 28, 2022—after an earlier 9th Circuit decision, concluding that, “EPA is unable to conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure from the use of chlorpyrifos meets the safety standard of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Accordingly, EPA is revoking all tolerances for chlorpyrifos.”  Using urinary metabolites of OPs, the study highlights that diethyl phosphate (DEP, the breakdown chemical of chlorpyrifos) has the strongest association with asthma. However, individual and combined exposure to all OPs have a significant link to respiratory disease. The respiratory system is essential to human survival, regulating gas exchange (oxygen-carbon dioxide) in the body to balance acid and base tissue cells for normal function. Damage to the respiratory system can […]

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Neurodevelopmental Disorders Studied as an Environmental Justice Concern

Thursday, October 26th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2023) The increasing prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) in the United States has raised concerns about the impact of toxic exposures on child development. A comprehensive review by Devon Payne-Sturges, PhD, and colleagues in Environmental Health Perspectives analyzes the literature about disparities in NDDs in vulnerable and marginalized populations. The review investigates over 200 studies and reveals that fewer than half of these studies actually examine disparities, and most fail to provide a rationale for their assessments. The authors also offer practical suggestions for improving future research, including better methods for characterizing race and socioeconomic status and interpreting effect modification in environmental epidemiologic studies of health disparities. Associate Professor Devon Payne-Sturges, PhD, at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health, one of the lead authors of the study and a former policy specialist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said, “FDA and EPA can act now—not later—to protect families from neurotoxic chemicals in consumer products and in the environment.” Tanya Khemet Taiwo, PhD, the other lead author and assistant professor at Bastyr University in Seattle said, “We need more stringent environmental standards to address pollution that is disproportionately impacting low-income communities and communities of […]

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