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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‚Äôs Words, ‚ÄúAll life is interrelated,‚ÄĚ and His Legacy Are Honored on MLK Day, Monday, Jan. 17

Friday, January 14th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2022)¬†On the annual celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‚ÄĒ MLK Day, Monday, January 17 ‚ÄĒ Beyond Pesticides honors his legacy by calling out ongoing environmental inequities, and calling on all of us to advance environmental justice. In his 1967 Christmas sermon, Dr. King famously noted, ‚ÄúIt really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.‚ÄĚ There may be no better description of what is at stake in environmental justice work ‚ÄĒ righting environmental wrongs that have disproportionate impacts on some groups of people. In its attention to the multitude of ways in which BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) populations face disproportionate risks and impacts, Beyond Pesticides works to ensure that all people are afforded circumstances that support their safety, health, and well-being. Rather than excavate the very long historical record of environmental injustice in the U.S., today‚Äôs Daily News Blog recalls several examples from the past year. It is impossible to begin that chronicle without first acknowledging that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has […]

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Banned Pesticides Associated with Endometriosis

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2021) Women exposed to metabolites of the banned insecticide chlordane are over three times more likely to develop endometriosis, finds research published in the journal Environment International. The study is the latest to find links between persistent organic pollutants (POPs), still lingering in our environment and in our bodies, and chronic disease. According to an economic analysis conducted in 2016, exposure to endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals, often implicated in considerable damage to the body‚Äôs reproductive system, results in billions of dollars of health care costs from female reproductive disorders. Researchers set out to integrate two methodologies into their evaluation, combining analysis of POP biomarkers in blood with an analysis of biomarkers in that body that correspond with cell functioning, inflammation, and stress. A total of 87 women were enrolled in the study, half of whom had deep endometriosis, a quarter of whom also had the disease and sought surgical intervention, and a remaining quarter without reproductive concerns acted as a control. Twenty polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 30 organochlorine pesticide compounds were analyzed, as were various biomarkers and inflammatory cytokines. The analysis revealed two compounds to be positively associated with endometriosis ‚Äď trans-nonachlor, a breakdown product of […]

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Joining Together to Give Thanks As We Confront the Challenges Ahead

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

  (Beyond Pesticides, November 24, 2021) On Thanksgiving, thank you for being a part of Beyond Pesticides and sharing and contributing to the vision necessary to protect the web and fragility of life. We believe that there is no time like Thanksgiving to think about how we can more effectively join together as families and communities across divisions and different points of view to find a common purpose in protecting the health of the environment and all that inhabit it. Unfortunately, there are a host of pesticides, genetically engineered materials, and others in conventional Thanksgiving foods that not only impact human health, but threaten the environment. With far too many adverse health and ecological effects associated with toxic chemicals, organic practices are viable solutions to mitigate pesticide contamination and subsequent exposure. Read on as we consider the range of challenges we must confront, and the solutions that can bring us all together. The Climate As climate impacts grow, an increase in uses of synthetic pesticides in agriculture is likely ‚ÄĒ because of waning efficacy (pesticide resistance) of these compounds, and mounting pest pressure (i.e., increasing insect population and metabolism). Production of pesticides contributes to greenhouse gas emissions gas (e.g., nitrous […]

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Go Organic this Thanksgiving and Keep the Toxic Turkey and Fixings Off Your Plate

Friday, November 19th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2021) Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for people to come together and give thanks for the bounty of an organic harvest. Unfortunately, many Thanksgiving meals are produced by chemical farming practices that utilize hazardous pesticides, genetically engineered (GE) crops, and petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers. These inputs, apart from being unnecessary, degrade ecosystems and affect the health of consumers and agricultural workers alike. It‚Äôs never too late to start a new tradition ‚Äď for this year and into the future, make your Thanksgiving feast sustainable by going organic. Now, more than ever, it‚Äôs important to go organic: For Our Own Health Going organic drastically reduces the amount of pesticide in a person‚Äôs body. Although Thanksgiving is generally no time to think about dieting, we‚Äôll aim to make it instructive: recent research finds that one of the biggest health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet comes when you go organic. Compared to individuals on a Mediterranean diet filled with chemically farmed foods, those that ate organic had 91% lower pesticide residue. This finding is backed up by a considerable body of prior research. A 2015 study based on self-reported food intake found that those who eat organic generally have much lower […]

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Pesticide Exposure Contributes to Preterm Births and Low Birth Weight

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 18, 2021) A study published by King George‚Äôs Medical University, India, finds exposure to xenobiotic substances like pesticides during pregnancy increases risks associated with preterm birth, including a rise in cesarean section (C-section) deliveries and a decrease in fetal body weight. Preterm births occur when a fetus is born early or before 37 weeks of complete gestation. Premature births can result in chronic (long-term) illnesses among infants from lack of proper organ development and even death. Birth and reproductive¬†complications are increasingly common among individuals exposed to environmental toxicants, like pesticides. The Center for Disease Control (CDC)¬†reports¬†the preterm birth rate is increasing annually. Therefore, studies like this can help government and health officials safeguard human health by assessing adverse effects following prevalent chemical exposure. The study notes, ‚ÄúTo the best of our knowledge, this was a pioneering study, and it may help to increase our knowledge with regard to xenobiotic exposure in biological systems and the need for stringent guidelines for agricultural use of pesticides.‚ÄĚ The study examines the association between the transfer of xenobiotics (foreign synthetic substances like pesticides) from mother to fetus. Transferal of these toxic substances can result in biological and chemical changes (i.e., genotoxicity […]

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Unless You Go Organic, Switching to ‘Healthier’ Mediterranean Diet Increases Pesticide Exposure Three-fold

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2021) Replacing a modern, ‚Äėwestern‚Äô diet of highly processed foods with a Mediterranean diet filled with conventional, chemically-grown fruits and vegetables triples exposure to toxic pesticides, according to research recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. However, this disturbing change can be eliminated by eating a Mediterranean diet consisting entirely of organic food, which is not sprayed with synthetic pesticides. The advantages of the Mediterranean diet, often ranked as the ‚Äėbest diet‚Äô and emphasized by medical practitioners for its health benefits, now appear to depend on the production practices involved in the meals an individual eats. ‚ÄúThere is growing evidence from¬†observational studies that the health benefits of increasing fruit, vegetables and wholegrain¬†consumption are partially diminished by the higher pesticide exposure associated with these foods,‚ÄĚ said study coauthor Per Ole Iversen, MD. ‚ÄúOur study demonstrates that consumption of organic foods allows consumers to change to a healthier diet, without an increased intake of pesticides.” Researchers began their investigation by establishing a randomized trial consisting of 27 adults, all of whom were postgraduate student volunteers on a study abroad course in Greece. The experiment lasted a total of five weeks, including a two-week intervention in the […]

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States Need to Adopt a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy

Monday, November 8th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2021)¬†California state agencies, led by the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), released a draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy to guide and accelerate near- and long-term climate action across key California landscapes. All states need such strategies, and to be effective, they must be backed by ambitious targets focused on reduction of pesticides and support for organic agriculture. Tell your state legislators and governor to adopt a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy that supports organic agriculture and land management.¬†(CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS: Please use this form.) A Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy will identify our natural and working lands as a critical yet currently underutilized sector in the fight against climate change. These lands can sequester and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future climate risks. Climate smart management of our natural and working lands also improves public health and safety, secures our food and water supplies, and increases equity. The strategy should define the state‚Äôs natural and working landscapes; describe how these lands can deliver on climate change goals; highlight priority nature-based climate […]

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California Releases Strategy for Land Management Practices that Confronts Climate Crisis

Friday, November 5th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, November 5, 2021) Once again earning its environmental leadership reputation, California has released a draft strategy document designed to catalyze near- and long-term climate action through focused attention on the state‚Äôs natural and working lands, and on nature-based solutions. The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) announced the draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy in mid-October. In the announcement, CNRA asserts that the state‚Äôs 105 million acres can ‚Äúsequester and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future climate risks.‚ÄĚ The agency also notes that the plan would secure food and water supplies, improve public health and safety, and forward equity. It has invited public comment, and a coalition of California (and national) nonprofit advocates is delivering a letter that calls on the agency to include, in the plan, ambitious targets to move the state‚Äôs agricultural sector away from the use of harmful synthetic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides will sign on to the letter. This ‚Äúnatural and working lands‚ÄĚ document will inform California‚Äôs 2021 State Adaptation Strategy and the 2022 Scoping Plan ‚ÄĒ master documents guiding the state‚Äôs climate action during […]

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Women in Agricultural Work at Increased Risk for Skin and Blood Cancers from Pesticide Exposure

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, October 21, 2021) A study published in¬†Environment International¬†finds higher rates of various cancers among agricultural workers, with multiple myeloma (blood cancer) and melanoma (skin cancer) disproportionately impacting female farmers. Although research studies link cancer risk to genetic and external factors (e.g., cigarette smoke), there is increasing¬†evidence¬†that pesticide exposure augments the risk of developing common cancers like melanoma and less common cancers like multiple myeloma. This study highlights the importance of understanding how pesticide use can increase the risk of latent diseases, which do not immediately develop upon initial exposure. The researchers note, ‚ÄúGiven the large size of the agricultural population worldwide and the presence of various potential hazards in its working environment, such epidemiological data are important in improving occupational health measures and ensuring better workers‚Äô health.‚ÄĚ To investigate the cancer incidence patterns, researchers evaluated data from the AGRICOH database involving various international studies. The studies assessed pesticide exposure scenarios, which researchers use to determine the etiological (causal) agent of cancer incidences among farmers relative to the general population. Researchers analyzed data from eight different AGRICOH groups in various countries: France (AGRICAN), the U.S. (AHS, MESA), Norway (CNAP), Republic of Korea (KMCC), Denmark (SUS), and Australia (Pesticide Exposed […]

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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‚Äď31% 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, ‚ÄúWait, what?! I thought organic farming does not use pesticides! Help?‚ÄĚ 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 ‚ÄĒ no matter their toxicity, as long as EPA has permitted them ‚ÄĒ Certified Organic growers are permitted to use only ‚Äúnatural‚ÄĚ or naturally derived pesticide products, and a very limited number, at that. Organic growers may use any of the products listed in ‚ÄúThe National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances,‚ÄĚ as established by the NOP‚Äôs (National Organic Program‚Äôs) National […]

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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, ‚ÄúThese 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.‚ÄĚ 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, ‚ÄúThese 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 ő≤-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.‚ÄĚ Several environmental pollutants have links to obesity development via the effects on gut health, endocrine (hormone) and metabolic system, […]

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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, ‚ÄúPermethrin 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.‚ÄĚ 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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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. ‚ÄúThis is a step forward in showing an interplay between genetics and environment and its potential role for autism spectrum disorder,‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äėbrain organoid‚Äô 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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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, ‚ÄúThis 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.‚ÄĚ 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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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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs scientists note, ‚ÄúThe 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 ‚ÄĒ as well as biodiversity, pollinator health, and carbon sequestration ‚ÄĒ 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, ‚ÄúPesticides and Soil Invertebrates: A Hazard Assessment,‚ÄĚ published in Frontiers in Environmental Science in early May, the researchers write, ‚ÄúA 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.‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äúpesticide‚ÄĚ can refer to myriad kinds of chemical treatments ‚ÄĒ including antimicrobials, disinfectants, rodenticides, and others ‚ÄĒ but in the agricultural and land management realms, primarily means insecticides, […]

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Breakdown Products (Metabolites) from Pesticides May Be More Toxic than Parent Compound, Study Finds

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2021) Nearly half of all breakdown products (transformation products) from four common-use environmental pesticides produce stronger endocrine (hormone) disrupting (ED) effects than the parent compound, according to new research published in Environment International. Over¬†300 environmental contaminants¬†and their byproducts‚ÄĒfrom chemicals in plastics to cosmetic/personal care products‚ÄĒare commonly present in water bodies, food commodities, and human blood/urine samples. These toxicants can alter hormone metabolism, producing endocrine-disrupting effects that put the health of animals, humans, and the environment at¬†risk. Many ecological and health risk assessments for pesticides focus on the effects of parent chemical compound products, overlooking the potential impacts of transformation products (TPs). Therefore, studies like these highlight the need to assess the implications of TPs to safeguard human, animal, and environmental health. The researchers note, ‚ÄúSince an increasing number of pesticide TPs have been detected in various environmental media, a more comprehensive understanding of the ecological risk of pesticide TPs is imperative for risk assessments more extensively and regulatory policy-making on pesticide restriction in the future.‚ÄĚ Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., chemical substances like toxic pesticides foreign to an organism or ecosystem), including pesticides, bisphenols, phthalates, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and heavy metals. Past research demonstrates exposure […]

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Federal Court Gives EPA 60-Day Deadline to Decide the Fate of Chlorpyrifos

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has less than two months to determine whether cancel or modify its registration of the brain-damaging, organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, following a decision from a federal appeals court last week. 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.¬†¬† ‚ÄúThe EPA has had nearly 14 years to publish a legally sufficient response to the 2007 Petition,‚ÄĚ reads a 2-1 opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. ‚ÄúDuring that time, the¬† EPA‚Äôs¬† egregious¬† delay¬† exposed¬† a¬† generation¬† of¬† American¬† children¬† to¬† unsafe¬† levels¬† of¬† chlorpyrifos.‚ÄĚ Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that is currently registered for use on a range of food crops, golf courses, and for public health mosquito control (in cases of mosquito-borne diseases). It is highly acutely toxic, causing numbness, tingling sensation, in-coordination, dizziness, vomiting, […]

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Pesticide Exposure Increases Susceptibility to Covid-19, Gulf War Veterans Found At Risk

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2021) New evidence set to be presented at the Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting held this week suggests that Gulf War Veterans and other individuals with prior pesticide exposures may be more susceptible to Covid-19 infection. As the pandemic continues, it is critically important for researchers to better understand specific vulnerabilities in population groups in order to improve care and patient outcomes. “The reason why COVID-19 causes a severe form of disease leading to hospitalization and high rates of mortality in a small segment of society is unclear,” said Prakash Nagarkatti, PhD, co-author of the study and vice president for research at the University of South Carolina. “This work sheds new light on exposure to pesticides and potential susceptibility to COVID-19 through altered immune response.” ¬† According to recent data, out of 160,000 Covid-19 cases among veterans, the mortality rate was more than 4%. Researchers are pointing to Gulf War Syndrome, and past exposure to organophosphate pesticides as part of the problem. “We have identified a basic mechanism linked with inflammation that could increase susceptibility to COVID-19 infection among people exposed to organophosphates,” said Saurabh Chatterjee, PhD, from the University of South Carolina. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) […]

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Invertebrates and Plants Face Increasing Threat from Pesticide Use, Despite Declining Chemical Use Patterns

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

Pesticide use threatens aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and plants more than ever, despite declining chemical use and implementation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the U.S., according to a¬†University Koblenz-Landau, Germany¬†study. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s¬†Silent Spring¬†(1962), many environmental agencies have banned the use of pesticides like organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates for their devastating toxic‚ÄĒsometimes lethal‚ÄĒeffects, particularly on vertebrates, including humans. However, this ban created a pathway for a new generation of pesticides (e.g., neonicotinoids, pyrethroids) to take hold. Although these pesticides are more target-specific, requiring lower chemical concentrations for effectiveness, they have over double the toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators.¬† Invertebrates and plants are vital for ecosystem function, offering various services, from decomposition to supporting the food web. Furthermore, invertebrates and plants can act as¬†indicator species¬†(bioindicators) that scientists can observe for the presence and impact of environmental changes and stressors. Therefore, reductions in invertebrate and plant life have implications for ecosystem health that can put human well-being at risk. Study lead author Ralf Schulz, PH.D., notes, ‚Äú[This study] challenge[s] the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM [genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE)] crops and call for action to reduce the […]

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Common Use Organophosphate Insecticides Pose a Greater Threat to Women’s Health

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2021) A new study published in¬†Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology¬†finds chronic (long-term) organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposure increases adverse health and cancer risk for U.S. women relative to men. Organophosphorus pesticides have a wide range of biological uses‚ÄĒfrom insecticides to flame retardants‚ÄĒthat make these chemicals ubiquitous, significantly contributing to ecosystem contamination. Furthermore, while organophosphates have less bioaccumulation potential, residues are¬†consistently present¬†in human and animal blood, urine, tissues, and milk. Although research demonstrates that OPs are¬†highly toxic, there remains an inadequate understanding of how OP exposure impacts the nonagricultural population in the U.S., especially women. Therefore, it is essential to investigate the sex-specific health effects chemical contaminants can produce to mitigate exposure among vulnerable populations. Study researchers note, ‚ÄúGiven the higher burden of OP exposure and their significantly higher overall health risk, including cancer, reducing OP exposure in U.S. women needs to be prioritized.‚ÄĚ To examine the relationship between OP exposure and health risks, researchers investigated the presence of commonly detected OP metabolite concentrations in urine using participants from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Urine samples measure OP metabolite as an indicator of OP exposure like previous agriculture-related population surveys. Study participants report health issues […]

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