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

Friday, May 7th, 2021

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

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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—from chemicals in plastics to cosmetic/personal care products—are 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, “Since 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.” 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.   “The EPA has had nearly 14 years to publish a legally sufficient response to the 2007 Petition,” reads a 2-1 opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. “During that time, the  EPA’s  egregious  delay  exposed  a  generation  of  American  children  to  unsafe  levels  of  chlorpyrifos.” 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—sometimes lethal—effects, 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, “[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—from insecticides to flame retardants—that 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, “Given 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.” 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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Breast Cancer Rates Higher Among African American Women from Disproportionate Chemical Exposure

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 25, 2021) A University of Michigan study finds a link between elevated rates of breast cancer incidents and chemical exposure from pesticides among African American women. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, causing the second most cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, breast cancer outcomes differ significantly among women of various races/ethnicities, with African American women being 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than women of any other race. Furthermore, incidences of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)—an aggressive breast cancer subtype lacking remediation—is approximately three-fold higher in non-Hispanic Black women (NHBW) compared to non-Hispanic White women (NHWW). Although past studies suggest genetic and environmental factors interact to produce these differences in breast cancer outcomes, genetic factors only play a minor role while disparities (differences) in external factors (i.e., chemical exposure) may play a more notable role. This study highlights the significance of understanding how chemical exposure drives disease outcomes and increases disease risk, especially for more virulent diseases that disproportionately (unequally) impact specific communities. Prior research infers differences in chemical exposure may explain racial disparities for several illnesses, and growing evidence suggests common chemical exposure patterns influence the risk of breast cancer. […]

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Aggressive Cancer in Sea Lions Linked to Ocean Pollution and Herpesvirus Precursor, Implications for Human Health

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2021) California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are experiencing high rates of urogenital carcinoma (UGC) cancer incidences from the combined effect of toxic “legacy” pesticides like DDT and the viral infection Otarine herpesvirus-1 (OtHV1), according to a new study published in Frontiers in Marine Science. Previous research documents the role herpesvirus infection, genotype, and organochlorine pesticides play in sea lion cancer development. However, synergism (collaboration) between viral infection and toxic chemical exposure increases cancer development odds. Pollution of the oceans with toxic chemicals lacks adequate regulation, is widespread and only getting worse. More than 80 percent of ocean pollution comes from land-based, anthropological activities. A recent study published in Annals of Public Health finds toxic chemicals from pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, and other sources readily contaminate the ocean, especially near coastal regions where chemical inputs occur in higher concentrations. Globally, pollution has major disease implications, causing the deaths of over nine million people annually. Therefore, it is essential to understand the co-effects of ocean pollution and diseases to protect human health. Authors of the study state, “This study has implications for human health, as virally associated cancer occurs in humans, and likelihood of cancer development could similarly be increased by exposure to environmental […]

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Vulnerability to COVID-19 May Increase with Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2021) A review published in Food and Chemical Toxicology suggests organophosphorus pesticides (OPs) may increase the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to cause COVID-19, especially among vulnerable individuals with underlying medical conditions. Organophosphorus pesticides have a wide range of biological uses that makes these chemicals ubiquitous, significantly contaminating both terrestrial (land) and aquatic (water) environments. However, OPs are highly toxic, originating from the same compounds as World War II nerve agents. Moreover, OPs are one of the leading causes of poisoning globally. Therefore, it is vital to understand how OPs exposure will impact human health in conjunction with other immunologically compromising diseases like COVID-19. Considering COVID-19 and OP exposure act similarity on the respiratory system, exacerbating adverse inflammatory responses, reviews like these highlight the significance of evaluating synergism between diseases and toxic chemicals to safeguard human health. Researchers in the study note, “To curb SARS-CoV-2 infection, a healthy immune system is obligatory despite potent vaccine to alleviate morbidities in patients. But unintentional exposure to OP compounds from several sources can rupture the antiviral defense against SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, respiratory ailments may also be fueled by OP compounds. Hence, SARS-CoV-2 mediated morbidities and fatalities could be backed by unintentional exposure to OPs in […]

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Pesticides and Road Salt: A Toxic Mixture for Aquatic Communities

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2021) Insecticides and road salts adversely interact to alter aquatic ecosystems, reducing organism abundance and size, according to a study in the journal Environmental Pollution. Pesticide use is ubiquitous, and contamination in rivers and streams is historically commonplace, containing at least one or more different chemicals. Although road salts can prevent hazardous ice formation during the colder months, the study raises critical issues regarding the adverse interaction between road salts and pervasive environmental pollutants that threaten human, animal, and environmental health and safety. Authors of the study note, “Our results highlight the importance of multiple-stressor research under natural conditions. As human activities continue to imperil freshwater systems, it is vital to move beyond single-stressor experiments that exclude potentially interactive effects of chemical contaminants.” To assess the impact of road salts and insecticides on aquatic communities, researchers created a mesocosm (controlled outdoor experimental area) to examines the natural environment under controlled conditions. These communities include zooplankton, phytoplankton, periphyton, and leopard frog (Rana pipiens) tadpoles. Researchers performed a toxicity evaluation of six insecticides from three chemical classes (neonicotinoids: thiamethoxam, imidacloprid; organophosphates: chlorpyrifos, malathion; pyrethroids: cypermethrin, permethrin). Additionally, researchers note the potentially interactive effects of these insecticides with three concentrations of […]

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Trump EPA Gives Neurotoxic Insecticide Chlorpyrifos Another Thumbs Up, Ignoring Brain Effects in Children

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2020) The litany of parting shots by the waning Trump administration got longer on December 4, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed interim decision on the very toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, functionally continuing its registration for many agricultural uses. The interim decision purports to put in place new limitations on use of this pesticide, but they are wholly inadequate to the threat this compound represents — to young children, most concerningly, as well as to farmworkers, critical species and ecosystems, and the public. Chlorpyrifos should not be re-registered for use — i.e., its sale and use should be banned altogether, as Beyond Pesticides has asserted for years. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide used on scores of food crops, for mosquito (and other pest) control, and for some turf management (golf courses, especially). It has been demonstrated to be highly neurotoxic, especially to young children, leading to impaired cognitive function, developmental delays, lower IQs, attention deficit disorder, and a variety of other pervasive developmental and learning disorders. The essence of the compound’s toxicity to developing brains lies in its function as a cholinesterase inhibitor; chlorpyrifos binds to the receptor sites for acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme […]

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Tell President-elect Biden to Adopt a New Direction for Pesticide Regulation

Monday, December 7th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2020) The Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed in four years much of the progress made by EPA in decades, and that push continues. The Biden EPA needs to advance a new vision. Tell President-elect Biden to adopt a new direction for pesticide regulation. Challenge so-called “benefits” of pesticides. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires EPA to weigh risks against benefits when registering pesticides. Claimed “benefits” for toxic pesticides need to be judged in comparison to organic production, which is able to produce all types of food and feed. The Organic Trade Association reports that organic sales now exceed $55 billion per year, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finds that organic producers in the U.S. produced $9.9 billion worth of organic food on 5.5 million acres in 2019. EPA assumes benefits of pesticides, rather than measuring them, and does not take into account the development of resistance. The cost-competitive success of organic food production and nonagricultural land management practices make the case that toxic pesticides lack benefits. Protect pollinators. Agriculture relies on insect pollinators to facilitate fertilization and maintain annual crop yield. Globally, the production of crops dependent on pollinators is worth […]

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Pesticide Exposure Triggers Headaches and Other Cognitive Issues Among Youth in Farms Areas

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, November 25, 2020) New research from the Centre for Environment and Occupational Health Research at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, finds a link between pesticide exposure and adverse neurological symptoms among children and adolescents living in agricultural areas. Considering the etiology (cause) of many brain and neurological disorders are unknown, research like this is significant for understanding how pesticide exposure promotes disease development, especially among vulnerable populations. Researcher notes, “Children who indicate activities related to pesticide exposure may be at higher risk for developing headaches and lower cognitive performance in the domains of attention, memory and processing speed. […]Given [the] history and socio-economic divide to the farm laborers, […]future interventions should aim to reduce the health risks of these vulnerable populations, including their children.” The study demonstrates that there is a relationship between pesticide exposure from various farm-related and leisure activities and headaches and neurocognitive functioning (i.e., autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), lower intelligence (IQ), and harmful social behavior and behavioral regulation) in children and adolescents. To assess which farm-related/leisure activities concerning pesticide exposure cause cognitive symptoms, researchers administered a questionnaire addressing child pesticide handling, direct consumption of field crops, interaction with field adjacent water sources, […]

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Literature Review: Pesticides Exposure Highly Correlated with Respiratory Diseases

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, October 15, 2020) A review of scientific literature on the correlation between respiratory diseases and pesticides exposure—published in the journal Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine (AAEM), “Influence of pesticides on respiratory pathology—a literature review”—finds that exposure to pesticides increases incidents of respiratory pathologies (i.e., asthma, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]—or chronic bronchitis). The review by researchers at the Iuliu Hatieganu’ University of Medicine and Pharmacy Cluj-Napoca, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, looks at how pesticide exposure adversely propagates and reinforces respiratory diseases in humans. This review highlights the significance of evaluating how pesticide exposure impacts respiratory function, especially since contact with pesticides can happen at any point in the production, transportation preparation, or application treatment process. Researchers in the study note, “Knowing and recognizing these respiratory health problems of farmers and their families, and also of [pesticide] manipulators/retailers, are essential for early diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and preventive measures.” This study results are critically important at a time when exposure to respiratory toxicants increases vulnerability to Covid-19, which attacks the respiratory system, among other organic systems. 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 […]

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U.S. Geological Survey Finds Mixtures of Pesticides Are Widespread in U.S. Rivers and Streams

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2020) A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project, reveals the presence of pesticides is widespread in U.S. rivers and streams, with over almost 90 percent of water samples containing at least five or more different pesticides. Pesticide contamination in waterways is historically commonplace as a 1998 USGS analysis revealed pesticides are commonly found in all U.S. waterways, with at least one pesticide detectable. Thousands of tons of pesticides enter rivers and streams around the U.S. from agricultural and nonagricultural sources, which contaminate essential drinking water sources, such as surface water and groundwater. As the number of pesticides in waterways increases, it has detrimental impacts on aquatic ecosystem health, especially as some pesticides work synergistically with others to increase the severity of the effect. Reports like these are a significant tool in determining appropriate regulatory action to protect human, animal, and environmental health. USGS concludes, “Identification of primary contributors to toxicity could aid efforts to improve the quality of rivers and streams to support aquatic life.” Water is the most abundant and important chemical compound on earth, essential to survival and the main component of all living things. Less than three percent of that water […]

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Pesticide Drift from Greenhouses Adversely Affects Children Living Nearby

Friday, September 4th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 4, 2020) When pesticide drift is investigated, it is most often drift from agricultural fields that is examined. A new study shows that off-target drift of pesticides from greenhouses is also a reality. This research deduced such drift of organophosphate and carbamate pesticides from crop applications done in Ecuadoran floriculture greenhouses by evaluating the acetylcholinesterase enzyme (AChE) activity, necessary to the transmission of nerve impulses, in children residing nearby. The team finds that children living in homes near greenhouses in which these insecticides (widely recognized as cholinesterase inhibitors) are used exhibit reduced activity of this enzyme and abnormal functioning of the nervous system. Beyond Pesticides has monitored the pesticide drift issue intensively, and has long advocated for far better protections for farmworkers. This new information connects those issues, and expands the “drift” concerns to include risks to people working in greenhouses, and to those, especially children, who happen to live near greenhouse-type structures in which these toxic chemicals are used. The study evaluates data during three separate periods (2008, April 2016, and July–October 2016) on 623 children, aged 4–17, living in floricultural communities in Ecuador. The research is part of the study of the Secondary Exposure to Pesticides […]

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Study Shows Organic Food Diet Reduces Residues of Glyphosate in Body

Friday, August 14th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 13, 2020) Levels of the notorious herbicide compound glyphosate in the human body are reduced by 70% through a one-week switch to an organic diet, finds a new, peer-reviewed study published in August 2020 in the journal Environmental Research. This result emphasizes both the ubiquity of this compound in the human body, and diet as the primary source of exposure for most people. It also adds to the evidence for Beyond Pesticides’ assertions that: (1) chemical-intensive agriculture must be abandoned, for a variety of reasons that include human health, and (2) in the lead-up to a transition to organic and regenerative agriculture, consuming organic foods as much as is practicable is powerful protection from glyphosate, and from the assault of multiple chemical pesticides to which most people are exposed. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the popular weed killer RoundupTM, which has been used intensively in the U.S. and around the world, especially during the last couple of decades. It is very commonly used on crops grown from genetically engineered (GE) companion seeds for a variety of staple crops (e.g., soybeans, cotton, and corn). These GE seeds are glyphosate-tolerant, whose attribute has allowed growers to apply the herbicide and […]

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Wild Pollinator Declines Result in a Loss of U.S. Crop Production

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, August 6, 2020) New research finds that a decline in wild pollinator abundance, notably wild bees, limits crop yields in the U.S., according to the study, “Crop Production in the USA Is Frequently Limited by A Lack of Pollinators.” The study results, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, find the annual, national average value of wild bee pollination for the most economically important and pollinator-dependent crops is approximately $1.5 billion, with the total value of all U.S. pollinator-dependent crops equaling $50 billion annually. The United Nations states that 75% of the 115 top global food crops depend on insect pollination, with one third of all U.S. crops dependent on pollinators, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, research finds that many insect populations are declining by half with a third threatened by extinction, including managed and wild pollinators, mainly due to habitat fragmentation, climate change, and extensive pesticide use. With the global reliance on pollinator-dependent crops increasing over the past decades, a lack of pollinators threatens food security and stability. The researchers in the study note, “Our findings show that pollinator declines could translate directly into decreased yields or production for most of the crops studied, […]

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Long-Term Pesticide Exposure Linked to Hearing Loss in Farmworkers

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2020) Simultaneous exposure to pesticides and noise from agricultural machinery increases farmworkers, risk of hearing loss, according to the study, “Hearing Loss in Agricultural Workers Exposed to Pesticides and Noise,” published in the journal Annals of Work Exposures and Health. Hearing loss is the 3rd most common health issue in the U.S., affecting eight million Americans. Although specific conditions like age, illness, and genetics, can mediate hearing loss, research suggests other factors can induce auricle (ear) damage, including medications, exposure to toxic chemicals (including pesticides), and loud, ongoing noise. Past studies find an association between hearing loss and pesticide exposure or noise exposure, alone. However, this study is one of the first to associate hearing loss with the additive effect to concurrent, persistent pesticide exposure, and noise. This research is significant as human senses are integral to everyday human activities, and it is vital to understand how chronic pesticide exposure can limit the body’s ability to function normally, for farmers and everyone alike. Researchers in the study note, “[I]t is necessary to understand what work-related factors are contributing to this high prevalence of hearing loss in [Thai] agricultural workers in order to develop effective interventions and […]

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Take Action: Tell Public Officials to Stop Mosquito Spraying and Adopt a Safe, Effective Mosquito Management Plan

Monday, July 20th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2020) Does your community spray toxic pesticides for mosquitoes? In a well-intentioned but ill-informed attempt to prevent mosquito-borne illness such as West Nile virus, many communities spray insecticides (adulticides) designed to kill flying mosquitoes. If your community is one of these, then your public officials need to know that there is a better, more-effective, way to prevent mosquito breeding. Tell your public officials to stop spraying pesticides and adopt a mosquito management plan that protects public health and the environment. The problem with mosquito pesticides. Two classes of insecticides are favored by mosquito spray programs—organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids. In order to better target flying mosquitoes, adulticides are generally applied as ultra-low-volume (ULV) formulations that will float in the air longer than usual.  Pesticides are toxic chemicals and can exacerbate respiratory illnesses like Covid-19.Organophosphates, which include malathion (Fyfanon), naled (Dibrom), and chlorpyrifos (Mosquitomist for public health uses only) are highly toxic pesticides that affect the central nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. Symptoms of poisoning in humans include numbness, tingling sensations, headache, dizziness, tremors, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating, incoordination, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, slow heartbeat, loss of consciousness, incontinence, convulsions, and death. Some organophosphates have been linked to […]

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Health and Behavioral Development of Beneficial Black Garden Ants Stunted by Low Levels of Pesticide Exposure in Soils

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2020) Long-term exposure to sublethal (low-level) concentrations of the neonicotinoid in soil negatively affects the health and behavioral development of black garden ants (Lasius niger) colonies, according to a study published in Communications Biology by scientists at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Ants are one of the most biologically significant insects in the soil ecosystem, acting as ecosystem engineers. Their burrowing behavior aerates the soil, allowing oxygen and water to penetrate down to plant roots. Additionally, ants increase soil nutrient levels by importing and accumulating organic material like food and feces, thus enhancing nutrient cycling. Like many other insects, ants are unfortunate victims of the global insect apocalypse or population decline, and much research attributes the recent decline to several, including pesticide exposure. Broad-spectrum pesticides, like neonicotinoids, indiscriminately kill pests and nontarget organisms alike, as their ubiquitous use contaminates soils, even in untreated areas. This study highlights the necessity of rethinking chemical pest management, developing sustainable agricultural practices that reduce the use of agrochemicals, like pesticides, to prevent permanent environmental ecosystem damage. Researchers in the study note, “To prevent irreparable damages to functioning ecosystems, [we] suggest to either fully incorporate long-term effects in risk assessment schemes, or to make a shift […]

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Study Shows Brain Effects during Fetal Development Linked to Common Pesticide Exposure—Supports Call for Organic Alternatives

Friday, July 10th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2020) A study published in June 2020 in Environmental Health journal is especially concerning for people who become, or plan to become, pregnant. It concludes that personal, agricultural, and household exposures to pesticides may increase the risk of a relatively rare fetal disorder called “holoprosencephaly.” The study finds that pre-conception and the first few weeks of pregnancy are the most vulnerable periods during which exposure can increase risk of this disorder, in which the embryo’s forebrain fails to develop into two distinct hemispheres. The study’s results reinforce Beyond Pesticide’s long-standing warnings of the dangers of pesticides to children and the necessity of shifting to a precautionary approach to the introduction and use of synthetic pesticides (and other chemicals) across all sectors. The importance of this shift is perhaps no more poignantly illustrated than in the impacts that pesticide exposure can have on new life. The study, conducted from 2016 through 2019 by researchers from NIH (the U.S. National Institutes of Health) and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is a case-control study — one that compares subjects who have a disease or disorder with “controls” who do not have the disorder, comparing the frequency of exposure to a particular risk […]

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With 400,000 Malaria Deaths Worldwide, Insect Resistance to Mosquito Pesticides Calls for Urgent Need to Shift to Alternative Management Strategies

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2020) Efforts to control the transmission of malaria are encountering a big, though predictable, problem: the mosquitoes that transmit malaria are developing resistance to at least five of the insecticides that have been central to limiting transmission of the disease. A study released in late June reveals a dramatic increase in resistance to pyrethroid insecticides and DDT across sub-Saharan Africa. This signals the failure of a mainstay chemical approach to the spread of malarial mosquitoes; this same problem — resistance — is happening with chemical management of agricultural pests and weeds, and with antibiotics to treat human bacterial infections. This study underscores a point Beyond Pesticides has made repeatedly: resistance to pesticides (whether insecticides, herbicides, biocides, fungicides, or medical antibiotics) is nearly inevitable. The solution to containing the spread of malaria lies not in the use of more and different chemicals, but in nontoxic approaches that respect nature and ecological balance. Malaria is a sometimes deadly disease caused by female Anopheles mosquitoes infected with any of four varieties of the Plasmodium parasite. The disease kills roughly 400,000 people annually, with half that mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. sees approximately 2,000 cases of malaria annually, primarily in […]

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