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EPA Fails to Follow Congressional Mandate to Protect Children from Pesticide Exposure

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2020) Congress unanimously passed the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) in 1996 to increase protections for children from pesticide exposure. Unfortunately, according to a new study published in Environmental Health, the law is not being employed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to its full capacity. For most of the 59 pesticides reviewed by the study, EPA did not apply an additional FQPA safety factor and thereby missed an opportunity to protect children’s health. In fact, FQPA solidified EPA’s reliance on risk assessment calculations and mitigation measures that consistently fall short of adequate levels of protection because of serious data gaps, a failure to consider exposure to mixtures and synergistic effects, and a bias against consideration of alternatives (alternatives assessment)  that show toxic pesticides to be unnecessary.  FQPA establishes a safety standard applied to all food commodities that considers specific risks for infants and children. The law requires EPA to assess the “aggregate risk” (considering exposure from multiple sources) and “cumulative exposure” to pesticides that have a “common mechanism of toxicity.” FQPA mandates “an additional tenfold margin of safety for the pesticide chemical residue and other sources of exposure shall be applied for infants and children […]

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Send a Message to EPA: Do Your Job to Protect Health and the Environment

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 21, 2020) As news reports come in demonstrating the threats to major groups of organisms, such as insects and birds, and the stability of Earth’s ecosystems, and scientists appeal for major policy changes, recent actions by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board highlight the need for public insistence that EPA do its job. Tell EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to follow the advice of scientists and do his job. Tell your Congressional representatives to support scientific integrity at EPA and other agencies. Although the influence of regulated corporations has historically silenced science that threatens profits–as shown by industry reaction to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring—attacks on science in federal agencies have increased in the Trump administration. EPA has dismissed findings of scientists concerning chlorpyrifos, atrazine, and synthetic pyrethroids. Now EPA’s war on its own scientists has reached the point that its Science Advisory Board, which oversees the scientific integrity of the agency’s regulation, posted letters on-line criticizing EPA’s rollback of environmental protections. As reported in a front page story on January 1, 2020 by The New York Times, “A top panel of government-appointed scientists, many of them hand-selected by the Trump administration, said on Tuesday that three of President Trump’s most far-reaching and scrutinized proposals to weaken major […]

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Environmental Chemicals Are Stealing IQ Points from American Children and Costing Trillions to the U.S. Economy

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2020) Exposure to environmental chemicals in the U.S. since the turn of the century has resulted in millions of lost IQ points, hundreds of thousands of cases of intellectual disability, and trillions of dollars of lost economic activity. This is according to a study led by a team of scientists at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. “Although people argue against costly regulations, unrestricted use of these chemicals is far more expensive in the long run, with American children bearing the largest burden,” says senior study author Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP in a press release. Exposure to environmental chemicals can result in neurotoxic effects. Prenatal exposure represents a critical window when these effects can be particularly pronounced and result in lasting damage to a child. Researchers focused their study on contact with mercury, lead, organophosphate pesticides, and flame retardants in the womb. Biomonitoring data from a long-running Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on environmental chemicals was used to determine exposure levels. Because each chemical results in differing levels of intellectual damage, each was assigned an IQ impact based on past research. For example, scientists indicated […]

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Exploratory Study Indicates Pesticide Exposure May Relate to Higher Risk for Endometriosis

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2019) A study published in the journal Environment International, Association of urinary metabolites of organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides, and phenoxy herbicides with endometriosis, is the first of its kind. Researchers considered the endocrine-disrupting properties of pesticides (such as reduced sperm counts) and investigated whether there might be a relationship between pesticide exposure and endometriosis. Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent gynecologic disease that affects about 176 million women globally. It can cause extreme pain and infertility as well as increased risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. This study finds a positive correlation between some pesticide metabolites and endometriosis, though authors encourage further study to corroborate the findings. Researchers examined exposure to 11 “universal pesticides” and their metabolites and its relationship to endometriosis in 492 reproductive-age women recruited from 14 surgical centers in Utah and California from 2007-2009. The women at these clinics were scheduled for laparoscopy or laparotomy—the “gold standard” for identifying endometriosis is through these surgeries. The study compares results from the clinical cohort to a group of women in the same age bracket from areas surrounding the participating clinics. 619 urine samples were analyzed from the operative and population cohorts. This study detected six of the […]

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Study Links Pyrethroid Insecticides to Cardiovascular Disease and Other Health Hazards

Friday, January 10th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2020) A new study by researchers out of the University of Iowa College of Public Health, published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) Internal Medicine, demonstrates that greater exposure to pyrethroid insecticides is associated with higher risks of death from all causes and from cardiovascular disease. These compounds can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin; they are highly neurotoxic, and have also been linked to certain cancers, endocrine disruption, and suppression of the immune system, as well as respiratory and reproductive impacts. The researchers gathered data, for 2,116 adults aged 20 or older, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Each of those subjects had contributed a urine sample at some point between 1999 and 2002. Urine samples reflect levels of a pyrethroid metabolite (3-phenoxybenzoic acid) present, which in turn offer information about pyrethroid exposure. The researchers followed the participants until 2015; the research analysis was performed in the summer of 2019. Data were adjusted to accommodate multiple factors (age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, diet and lifestyle, smoking status, body mass index, and urinary creatinine levels). The co-authors report that subjects with the highest levels of metabolites had a 56% […]

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Take Action: Bring Back Scientific Integrity to Government Decisions

Monday, December 9th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, December 9, 2019) Although the influence of regulated corporations has historically silenced science that threatens profits – as shown by industry reaction to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring – attacks on science in federal agencies have increased in the Trump administration. EPA has dismissed findings of scientists concerning chlorpyrifos, atrazine, and synthetic pyrethroids. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has discontinued collecting data on honeybees. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to designate critical habitat for the endangered rusty patched bumblebee. Tell your Congressional Representative to cosponsor H.R. 1709, the Scientific Integrity Act, and thank those who already have cosponsored. H.R. 1709, the Scientific Integrity Act, was introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko of New York, in an effort to restore scientific integrity to government agency decision-making. The bill begins with the premise that “science and the scientific process should inform and guide public policy decisions on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, and protection of national security.” It prohibits scientific misconduct, suppression of scientific findings, intimidation of researchers, and creation of barriers to communicating scientific or technical findings. It limits the actions an agency may take in the process of approving dissemination of scientific results and gives individual researchers […]

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Ask Congress to Demand an Investigation into EPA’s Dismissal of Science

Monday, November 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 25, 2019) Continuing its marathon of deregulation to benefit the chemical industry, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its proposal to increase the amount of the weed killer atrazine allowed in U.S. waterways by 50% during the chemical’s registration review—a stark reversal of previous proposals to significantly reduce atrazine levels in the environment. The atrazine proposal follows closely on the heels of a proposal to further weaken protections regarding 23 pyrethroid insecticides that have been repeatedly linked by peer-reviewed studies to neurological issues such as learning disabilities in children. Ask Congress to request an investigation into whether EPA is ignoring its statutory duty and regulatory requirements to use science in its proposals. EPA’s atrazine proposal comes after agrichemical giant Syngenta and the National Corn Growers Association requested that EPA dismiss independent research regarding the adverse impact of atrazine. Atrazine, a broadleaf herbicide, is linked to endocrine disruption, neuropathy, and cancer. It disrupts the sexual development of frogs at levels far below the current allowed concentrations by EPA. Studies by Tyrone Hayes, PhD, University of California, Berkeley, and others have shown that concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb turn tadpoles into hermaphrodites. A 2009 study linked birth defects like gastroschisis and choanal atresia to the relative concentrations of atrazine and other pesticides […]

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EPA Proposes to Reduce Protections from Neurotoxic Pyrethroid Insecticides

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2019) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under pressure from chemical companies, released a proposal on Tuesday to further weaken protections regarding 23 pyrethroids. Pyrethroids are a common class of neurotoxic insecticides that have been repeatedly linked by peer-reviewed studies to neurological issues such as learning disabilities in children. They are also extremely damaging to non-target invertebrates, according to EPA’s own analysis. Despite this, EPA had already recently undermined protections for children from these chemicals, and the Trump Administration is now embracing industry proposals to further remove other safety barriers to human health and the environment. The Pyrethroid Working Group, a weighty working group of pesticide companies, requested EPA reduce safeguards such as a permanent 66-foot vegetation buffer between fields and water bodies to a 10 – 25-foot buffer. Also, the working group (and now EPA) suggests that the wind-speed cutoff for spraying should be increased from 10 mph to 15 mph. EPA’s announcement proposes the reapproval of five out the 23 pyrethroids; proposals regarding the rest are already pending approval. EPA is accepting public comments on the proposal until January 13, 2020. As mentioned, this is only the latest detrimental decision EPA has put forth regarding […]

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Despite Damning Scientific Evidence, EPA Dismisses Link Between Parkinson’s and Exposure to the Herbicide Paraquat

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is downplaying the connection between exposure to the herbicide paraquat and the development of Parkinson’s disease, per registration review documents released by the agency this week. Although unsurprising given the current administration’s track record of defending some of the most heinous chemicals still on the market, the review nonetheless marks a low point for scientific integrity within EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, according to advocates. Health and environmental advocates have already discounted EPA’s industry-biased review, and are instead pushing hard for Congressional action – namely HR 3817, the Protect Against Paraquat Act, introduced by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). Under federal law, pesticides are required to undergo reevaluation every 15 years. Paraquat is a potent restricted use herbicide, not available to be applied by residential users, but permitted for use on multiple agriculture crops. Over the last decade, independent peer-reviewed scientific studies have repeatedly found strong associations between paraquat to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Many of these studies have been covered in Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News or are recorded in the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database. In response to this growing body of literature, EPA conducted an epidemiological evaluation of published […]

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Mysterious “Havana syndrome” Linked to Neurotoxic Pesticide Exposure

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2019) In 2016, Canadians and Americans residing in Havana reported symptoms of headaches, dizziness, nausea. They described hearing strange buzzing and high-pitched sounds – some woke in the middle of the night fumbling for alarm clocks that were not going off. Media used the term “Havana syndrome” to describe the illness. Diplomats, scared by symptoms that seemed to only hit them in their hotel rooms or at home, speculated that a sonic weapon was being used against them. The Trump administration accused Cuban leaders of misconduct and removed all but essential employees. Later, some suspected that the diplomats could have experienced “mass hysteria.” A new Canadian study provides a more likely explanation to this mysterious illness that impacted diplomats in Havana: neurotoxic pesticide exposure. Researchers conducted testing on 14 individuals who had resided in Havana and a control group of 12 that had never lived there. Some of the experimental group had been recently exposed while others, tested 19 months after their return, were classified as “remotely exposed.” Tests included brain imaging and self-reported symptom questionnaires. They analyzed blood samples for routine biochemistry, kidney, liver, and metabolic functions. Individuals that showed symptoms of brain injury went […]

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Chemical-Intensive Agriculture Is Increasingly Toxic to Insects

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 15, 2019) An article in the journal Plos One, “An assessment of acute insecticide toxicity loading (AITL) of chemical pesticides used on agricultural land in the United States,” shows that recent shifts in insecticide use—from organophosphates and carbamates to synthetic pyrethroids and neonicotinoids—have made a large contribution to the ongoing insect apocalypse. This shift to insecticides that target insects based on both selective toxicity and delivery method occurs within a context of shrinking habitat and biodiversity. The study, by Michael DiBartolomeis, PhD, Susan Kegley, PhD, Pierre Mineau, PhD, Rosemarie Radford, and Kendra Klein, PhD, presents a measure of acute insecticide toxicity loading that incorporates acute toxicity, quantity used, and the rate at which the insecticide degrades. Goulson et al. applied a similar measure in Great Britain that did not incorporate the rate of degradation. Both studies use the median lethal dose (LD50) to honey bees as a measure of acute toxicity and calculate the potential number of bee deaths based on the number of lethal doses of various insecticides applied in the field. In both cases, researchers used toxicity estimates for honey bees because they are widely available. Other insects may be more or less sensitive. The […]

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Take Action: To Protect Children, EPA Must Decide Based on Science, Not Industry Lobbying

Monday, August 12th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 12, 2019) Once again, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected the evidence provided by independent scientists and sided with the pesticide industry promoting its products; this time, removing a safety for factor for children on some of the most widely used insecticides, synthetic pyrethroids. When EPA cannot do its job, it is time for Congress to step in. Tell Congress: To Protect Children, EPA Must Consider the Independent Peer-Reviewed Science, Not Bend to Industry Lobbying. In a move that challenges the preponderance of independent peer-reviewed scientific findings on children’s health, EPA recently stripped away protections that limit children’s exposure to class of chemicals associated with childhood cancer, autism other learning disorders, and asthma. The result of the agency’s actions will be a dramatic increase in the use of synthetic pyrethroids, insecticides found in indoor and outdoor bug sprays, bug bombs, and often used on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. EPA, under the leadership of former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, is embracing the positions of the pesticide industry while ignoring independent science and health and environmental groups. In 2017, the agrichemical industry trade group, Croplife America, submitted comments to EPA during its review of synthetic pyrethroids. The organization urged EPA to rely on a […]

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Dismissing independent Peer-Reviewed Science, EPA Allows Dramatic Increase in Children’s Exposure to Toxic Pesticides Pushed by Industry

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, August 6, 2019) In a move that challenges the preponderance of independent peer-reviewed scientific findings on children’s health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently stripped away protections that limit children’s exposure to class of chemicals associated with childhood cancer, autism, and other learning disorders. The result of the agency’s actions will dramatically increase the use of synthetic pyrethroids, insecticides found in indoor and outdoor bug sprays, bug bombs, and often used on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. EPA, under the leadership of former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, is embracing the positions of the pesticide industry while ignoring independent science and health and environmental groups. In 2017, the agrichemical industry trade group, Croplife America, submitted comments to EPA during its review of synthetic pyrethroids. The organization urged EPA to rely on a health model developed by a different industry group, known as the Council for the Advancement of Pyrethroid Human Risk Assessment (CAPHRA), in determining the “safety factor” to apply to children. “Safety factors” for children are required under a 1996 law, the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), unless there is compelling evidence indicating the additional margin of safety is unnecessary. These factors generally require manufacturers to lower […]

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Pregnant Mothers Exposed to Insecticides More Likely to Have Children Who Develop ADHD

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2019) Pregnant mothers with higher concentrations of pesticide metabolites (breakdown products) in their urine are more likely to have children who develop symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to research conducted by the University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital. The results of this study are consistent with past findings from Rutgers University and Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, indicating a need for researchers to determine causality, and pesticide regulators to rein in toxic insecticide use. The pesticides investigated by researchers were breakdown products of the organophosphate chlorpyrifos, and the synthetic pyrethroid class of insecticides. The residue of these chemicals are frequently detected on conventional, industrially farmed food products. Although chlorpyrifos is banned from residential use in the U.S., most household bug sprays such as RAID contain high amounts of synthetic pyrethroids. Among the 948 pregnant Danish women tested, 90% had some level of chlorpyrifos metabolites (3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol) detected in their urine, and 94% were positive for the generic pyrethroid metabolite (3-phenoxybenzoic acid). Scientists continued to follow up with pregnant women’s children through the first five years of life. A child behavioral check list was completed to determine the relative level of ADHD symptoms. Concentrations of […]

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Cockroaches Rapidly Develop Resistance to Nearly Every Pesticide, Requiring Alternative Approach

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2019) German cockroaches, the bane of many apartment-dwellers throughout the U.S., can rapidly develop cross-resistance to insecticides they have never been exposed to, according to researchers from Purdue University. “This is a previously unrealized challenge in cockroaches,” said Michael Scharf, PhD, whose findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports. “Cockroaches developing resistance to multiple classes of insecticides at once will make controlling these pests almost impossible with chemicals alone.” In the face of pesticide resistance, integrated measures that focus structural, mechanical, and cultural pest management practices must become standard practice for this notorious pest. Dr. Scharf and his colleagues began their study at two separate housing complexes in Indianapolis, IN and Danville, IL. Prior to the study, researchers pre-treated a subset of cockroaches in each building, and selected five insecticides out of 14 commercially available. These insecticides – abamectin, pyriproxyfen, thiamethoxam, lambda-cyhalothrin, and boric acid, were used because cockroaches had already developed significant resistance to others tested, mostly synthetic pyrethroids. Pre-treatment applications of synthetic pyrethroids revealed over 80% of cockroaches surviving. For the insecticides left with any level of efficacy, researchers established three separate treatment approaches, and stuck with it for six months, with one […]

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New York Bans Chlorpyrifos, Pressuring EPA to Impose Country-Wide Protections Against Brain-Damaging Pesticide

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, May, 7, 2019) Last week, the New York State legislature voted to phase out and eventually ban the use of the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos. The vote, 44-18 in the state Senate and 94-50 in the Assembly, is still awaiting the Governor’s signature, who is expected to sign the measure. As evidence of harm continues to accumulate, scientists have called for a ban, and a legal case works its way through the courts, pressure is mounting on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to once and for all remove this harmful pesticide from use. New York’s legislation sets implementation dates that leapfrog a similar law banning chlorpyrifos that passed in Hawai’i last year. Although Hawai’i’s law takes effect beginning in July of this year, the state may provide temporary use permits for the chemical until December 2022. New York also phases in restrictions, first prohibiting aerial applications beginning January 2020, then prohibiting all use except on apple trees starting January 2021. The chemical will be completely banned for use in New York in December 2021. Chlorpyrifos is a highly toxic insecticide that has been linked to damaging and often irreversible health outcomes, particularly for pregnant mothers and their children, […]

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Autism Linked to Wide Range of Commonly Used Pesticides

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2019) Exposure to commonly used pesticides in the womb and during the first year of life is linked to a higher risk of developing autism, according to the study, “Prenatal and infant exposure to ambient pesticides and autism spectrum disorder in children: population based case-control study,” published in the journal BMJ last week. Although the study does not reveal a causal link, it adds to previous literature highlighting autism risks from pesticide exposure, and reinforces calls to limit pesticide exposure during early life critical windows of vulnerability. The authors note their findings “support the need to avoid prenatal and infant exposure to pesticides to protect the developing child’s brain.” Researchers used data from California’s records of autism disorder diagnosis and birth rates from 1998 to 2010. Roughly thirty-five thousand healthy patients acted as a control, while scientists identified nearly three thousand patients with an autism diagnosis, of which 445 also displayed a co-occurring intellectual disability. Data was then drawn from California’s pesticide use recording database, and eleven pesticides (glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, acephate, malathion, permethrin, bifenthrin, methyl bromide, imidacloprid, avermectin, and myclobutanil) were analyzed for their use within 2000 meters (1.25 miles) of the homes of those […]

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Another Study Links Glyphosate to Cancer

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2019) In a study investigating the carcinogenic effects of pesticide exposure by analyzing data on 316,270 farmers and farmworkers in the U.S., Norway, and France, researchers have identified elevated risk for non Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and some subtypes, linking glyphosate and large B-cell lymphoma. Other pesticides linked to the disease include the pyrethroid deltamethrin and chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma; and terbufos and NHL overall. Researchers also found “inverse associations of NHL overall with the broader groups of organochlorine insecticides and phenoxy herbicides, after adjusting for exposure to other pesticides”; such inverse associations were not found with active ingredients within these groups. The research underscores how complex the science of pesticide impacts on human health, and on cancer incidence, can be. To wit: in evaluating 14 different pesticide categories and 33 individual, active chemical ingredients, Maria E. Leon, et al., conclude that associations of pesticides with the development of NHL appear to be (NHL) subtype- and chemical-specific. Published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in mid-March, the study, “Pesticide use and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoid malignancies in agricultural cohorts from France, Norway and the USA: a pooled analysis from the AGRICOH consortium,” uses data from three large cohort […]

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Corroborating Earlier Studies, a Reduction in Pesticide Residues in Consumers Found after Switching to an Organic Diet

Friday, February 15th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2019) A study, published in January 2019 in the journal Environmental Health, demonstrates that consumption of organic foods reduces significantly the levels of synthetic pesticide residues in the bodies of U.S. children and adults. Pesticide residues are found four times as frequently in conventionally grown food as in organically produced foodstuffs. Although the number of subjects in this study was relatively small, the results point to the importance of organics, and add to the evidence that organic food production and consumption are key to protecting human health. Study subjects comprised members of racially diverse families — from Oakland, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Atlanta — who did not typically consume an organic diet. Study participants, ages 4 to 52, ate their typical diet of conventionally grown foods for five days; for the following six days, they switched to a certified organic diet (provided by researchers) for consumption at home, work, school, or daycare, including all foods and beverages other than water. Urine samples were gathered prior to the “organic” days, and first thing on the morning after those six days. Fourteen different pesticides and metabolites were present in all participants’ urine in the “pre-organic” analysis; following the organic diet […]

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Bug Bombs Don’t Work – At All, According to Study

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

(Beyond Pesticides, January, 30, 2019) Bug bombs are completely ineffective at reducing German cockroach infestations, according to new research published in the journal BMC Public Health.  Not only are they ineffective, research indicates that these products are putting people at unnecessary risk. “In a cost-benefit analysis, you’re getting all costs and no benefits,” said Zachary DeVries, PhD, co-author of the study. “Bug bombs are not killing cockroaches; they’re putting pesticides in places where the cockroaches aren’t; they’re not putting pesticides in places where cockroaches are and they’re increasing pesticide levels in the home.” Scientists enrolled residents in 30 low-income apartments that had ongoing German cockroach infestations. Of the 30 homes, 20 were treated with a name-brand total release fogger (TRF), or bug bomb, and and 10 were treated only with gel baits. Baseline pesticide residue levels were recorded in all residences, and new data was collected after use of the bug bombs. Bug bombs were set off in each infested apartment’s kitchen, according to EPA label precautions. Residents waited 4-6 hours before ventilating and returning to their homes. In apartments receiving baiting gel treatments, the products were applied three times on an as-needed basis during the course of a month. […]

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Release of GE Mosquitoes Canceled by Cayman Islands Officials

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2018) The British Cayman Islands will no longer fund the release of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes, as reports indicate that the program failed to achieve its intended goals.  The government is formally terminating its contract with the UK-based company Oxitec, which marketed GE mosquitoes as a sort of silver bullet for the management of diseases such as Zika, yellow fever, malaria, and dengue. Advocates opposed to the GE mosquito program are continuing to encourage a focus on education and source reduction as the best method to address mosquito-borne diseases. Oxitec first began introducing its line of GE mosquitoes earlier in the decade, at a variety of locations including India, Brazil, Malaysia, and the Florida Keys. Public opposition to the release has been consistently strong. In the Florida Keys, over 230,000 people signed a change.org petition opposing the release. In the Cayman Islands, residents launched a number of lawsuits. In each instance the company was granted free reign to initiate its program. GE mosquitoes aim to ‘gene drive’ mosquito populations out of existence, a process intended to propagate a particular set of genes in a species. The company developed GE mosquitoes in a laboratory, injecting a gene […]

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Coconut-Derived Insect Repellent More Effective than the Hazardous DEET

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2018) Scientists working for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Lincoln, Nebraska have discovered natural compounds derived from coconut oil that are more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, bed bugs and other insects. Given the long-lasting efficacy of the compounds researchers tested, commercialization could make the regular use of toxic insect repellents, like DEET, obsolete. Advocates are praising USDA researchers for the results, indicating that this is exactly the type of research government agencies should be funding and promoting. It is important to note that USDA scientists did not find coconut oil itself to be an effective repellent. Lab equipment was used to analyze and isolate medium chain fatty acids within coconut oil for their repellent properties. Scientists zeroed in on a blend of C8 (caprylic acid), C10 (capric acid), and C12 (lauric acid) fatty acids as the most effective repellent mixture. Individually, only C12 exhibited anywhere near the same efficacy as the specific blend identified. The study indicates that more research is needed to understand why coconut oil itself was ineffective, and how the synergy between the fatty acid combinations resulted in such effective repellency. To verify their hypothesis on the efficacy […]

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Study of Rural New York State Homes Finds Pesticides in Every Sample Tested

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2018) Pesticide residue doesn’t announce itself –it isn’t colored, it doesn’t glow or reflect light, and after an initial application doesn’t put out a discernible odor – but it is likely ubiquitous in rural U.S. homes, according to a study published by Cornell University researchers late last month. The study is a warning specifically to households with young children, who are at increased risk of health effects from even minute levels of pesticide exposure. “Numerous health problems occur from exposure to pesticides, such as cancer, birth defects, leukemia and ocular [vision-related] toxicity, among a number of other health issues,” said Joseph Laquatra, PhD, coauthor of the research. “Households with crawling toddlers should be concerned, as toddlers will accumulate pesticide residues on their hands and then ingest them due to hand-to-mouth behaviors.” Researchers focused in on 132 households in rural counties of New York State that agreed to test for pesticide residue inside their home. Wipe samples were collected from both carpeted and non-carpeted areas, and tested for pesticides used commonly as part of agricultural production in the region. The pesticides analyzed included 15 compounds ranging from organophosphates like chlorpyrifos and malathion, to synthetic pyrethroids like resmethrin, […]

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