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Juneteenth 2024–Taking Action to Fight Disproportionate Adverse Effects to People of Color

Wednesday, June 19th, 2024

Calls for Holistic Environmental Justice and a Shift Away from Societal Dependence on Petrochemical Pesticides and Fertilizers (Beyond Pesticides, June 18-19, 2024) Juneteenth (June 19) commemorates the date in 1865 when the enslavement of Black Americans ended in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, over two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the defeat of the Confederacy on April 9, 1865. On June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger brought federal troops to Galveston, Texas and finally, and belatedly, implemented the Emancipation Proclamation, which proclaimed on January 1, 1863 freedom from slavery across the nation. Carl Mack, PhD, a historian and former President of the Seattle-King County NAACP, reminds us that there were still 225,000 enslaved Black Americans in Kentucky and Delaware after June 19, 1865 and the end of the Civil War until December 6, 1865 when Georgia became the 27th state to ratify the 13th amendment. “That is the day in which Georgia ratified the 13th amendment,” Dr. Mack goes on to discuss the remaining three former border states on their progress in adopting the 13th amendment. “As it applies to Delaware and Kentucky, Delaware did not ratify the 13th amendment until […]

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

Wednesday, May 8th, 2024

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

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

Friday, May 3rd, 2024

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

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Group Calls for Banning of Toxic Wood Preservatives to Prevent Further Contamination and Poisoning

Monday, April 29th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2024) The contamination and poisoning left behind from wood treatment sites, resulting in hundreds of designated Superfund clean-up sites across the country, is the subject of an action by Beyond Pesticides after the release of yet another report criticizing the federal government’s inadequate response to the public’s risk to “residual contamination in the groundwater and soil” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG). The report criticizes EPA’s weak response at the American Creosote Works Superfund site in Pensacola, FL, a problem that reflects the unending dangers of sites contaminated with persistent toxic chemicals associated with wood preservatives. The site was put on the Superfund priority list in 1983 and in 2017 it was estimated that the clean-up would cost $35.3 million. Just last year, EPA Administrator Michael Regan toured another Superfund Site contaminated with creosote and pledged the clean-up of that site, which affects a community of predominantly people of color. Tell EPA to cancel the registration of highly toxic wood preservatives, including creosote, chromated arsenicals, and copper compounds, and the U.S. Congress to ensure the prevention of future site contaminations. As long as dependency on toxic wood preservatives (used on utility […]

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EPA Inspector General Report Cites Agency Failures in Cleanup of Wood Preservatives at Superfund Site

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2024) The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report last week finding that the agency has failed to establish “institutional controls” at the American Creosote Works Superfund Site in Pensacola, Florida, leading to continuous groundwater and soil contamination that “leav[es] the public at risk of exposure.” The 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) established the Superfund program, codified under 42 U.S.C. Chapter 103, to clean up contaminated sites with tax money from polluting industries. The OIG made eight recommendations for the regional EPA administrator and one for the assistant administrator “for Land and Emergency Management to improve the institutional controls at American Creosote Works Superfund Site.” There are three main determinations found in the results section of the OIG report: first, the institutional controls to prevent potential exposure were either “insufficient or unimplemented;” second, the EPA missed its mark in communicating associated risks to the public in areas surrounding this Superfund site; and third, the full administrative record for this site was not available at the time of inspection. This report builds on what advocates argue is the sustained legacy of EPA inaction and failure to […]

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Natural Grocers Supports Organic Communities and Beyond Pesticides’ Parks for a Sustainable Future—Ladybug Love Pledge

Friday, April 12th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2024) In honor of Earth Month, Natural GrocersÂŽ is partnering with Beyond Pesticides for its seventh annual Ladybug LoveSM campaign. Natural Grocers, a longtime leader of the organic movement through national advocacy efforts and rigorous product standards, encourages its communities to pledge to protect beneficial insects and further Beyond Pesticides’ critical mission of converting local parks and playing fields to organic landscape management practices.   Natural Grocers’ annual Earth Month fundraising efforts benefit the nonprofit organization, Beyond Pesticides and its Parks for a Sustainable Future program. Cleaner air, water, and land make for a healthier food supply – a principle Natural Grocers has championed since 1955. Click here to see the campaign from last year. April shoppers at Natural Grocers’ 168 stores are also invited to donate to Beyond Pesticides at checkout. Ladybug Love also features in-store promotions! LADYBUG LOVE & BEYOND PESTICIDES Natural Grocers’ Ladybug Love campaign aims to bring awareness to the precious insects that play a crucial role in the stability of our food supply and regenerative farming. The annual Earth Month fundraising efforts benefit Beyond Pesticides and its Parks for a Sustainable Future program, designed to assist communities in transitioning away from pesticide use at local parks […]

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Take Action: Advocates Ask Congress to Include Protections from PFAS Contamination in Farm Bill

Tuesday, February 20th, 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2024) With health risks including developmental, metabolic, cardiovascular, and reproductive harm, cancer, damage to the liver, kidneys, and respiratory system, as well as the potential to increase the chance of disease infection and severity, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and their toxic trail of contamination in the environment is wreaking havoc with all life. The use of PFAS in industrial and commercial applications has led to widespread contamination of water and biosolids used for fertilizer, poisoning tens of millions of acres of land and posing a significant threat to the biosphere, public health, gardens, parks, and agricultural systems. Farmers and rural communities, in particular, bear the brunt of this contamination, as it affects their drinking water, soil quality, and livestock health.   Tell Congress that the Farm Bill must include the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act and the Healthy H2O Act to protect farmers and rural communities from PFAS contamination.  Led by Chellie Pingree (D-ME), U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Susan Collins (R-ME), a bipartisan and bicameral bill—the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act—has been introduced to provide assistance and relief to those affected by PFAS. A second bill, the Healthy H2O Act, introduced by Representatives Pingree and David Rouzer (R-NC) and Senators Baldwin […]

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This Juneteenth, We Highlight the Ongoing Fight for Environmental Justice

Friday, June 16th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, June 16, 2023) Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom for the last 250,000 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, but it is also a reminder that justice has not historically been “swift” or complete for Black Americans. The holiday commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.  According to a 2022 Gallup Poll, 40 percent of Americans know “a little bit” or “nothing at all” about Juneteenth. While this is a significant improvement in comparison to the 60 percent for the aforementioned metric in the previous year (when the holiday was federally recognized), greater public awareness is needed. This holiday is a time for individuals and organizations to acknowledge and reflect on their past and current actions or inactions that perpetuate systemic racism. As known from the history books, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, and the civil war ended on April 9, 1865. Juneteenth is a lesser-known anniversary commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people who received news of their freedom two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s freedom proclamation. While the technologies in the 19th century had a much slower travel time, […]

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Petrochemical Pesticides and Fertilizers Linked to “Shocking” Health and Environmental Crises

Tuesday, April 25th, 2023

Today, Beyond Pesticides released a special issue, Transformative Change: Informed by Science, Policy, and Action of its journal, Pesticides and You, with a compendium of “shocking scientific findings that compel us to act in our communities, states, and as a nation and world community.” The 168-page issue documents the last year of scientific, peer-reviewed articles, policy deficiencies, and action for change that intersect not only with petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, but with existential health crises, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency.

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Creosote-Induced Health Problems Persist from Springfield, MO Production, Now Superfund, Site

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

(Beyond Pesticides, March 7, 2023) An old Kerr-McGee Wood Treatment Facility is still causing health issues among residents in Springfield, Missouri. The former site of pressure-treated railroad tie production remains contaminated with creosote, a concoction of dangerous chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols, and creosols. While residents are still dealing with lingering effects of a now shuttered production site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to reregister creosote (wood preservatives are regulated as pesticides in the U.S.), perpetuating the harm caused by this material despite the wide availability of alternatives. The wood treatment facility in question operated for nearly 100 years, releasing significant levels of creosote-related chemicals throughout the immediate region. The Kerr-McGee Corporation spun off its liability for a range of hazardous sites previously under its control to a separate company called Tronox, which subsequently declared bankruptcy in 2009. Andarko Petroleum then purchased Kerr-McGee, but, during bankruptcy proceedings, Tronox filed a complaint against both Andarko and Ker-McGee, alleging fraudulent conveyance of the liabilities. As EPA explains, “At the core of the plaintiffs’ complaints is the allegation that the Defendants fraudulently transferred valuable assets out of Tronox and left Tronox with insufficient funds to pay the billions of […]

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EPA’s Deficient Pesticide Analysis Contributes to Ecological Decline

Monday, November 21st, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2022) Once again, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered a new pesticide without performing a thorough review of its impacts on biodiversity as well as threatened and endangered species. Inpyrfluxam was registered in 2020 and only after being sued by the Center for Biological Diversity for failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) did EPA commit to completing draft effects determinations by Fall 2022. Once again, EPA’s draft biological evaluation is incomplete and inadequate. EPA is accepting comments on its draft biological evaluation at Regulations.gov.  Tell EPA and Congress that Pesticide Registrations Require Complete Science. The Review of Inpyrfluxam is Incomplete and Inadequate.  The agency’s draft effects assessment is flawed and incomplete. We share the details because it shows that EPA is out of step with the science and its regulatory responsibility when it comes a thorough review for ecosystem effects of pesticides.   The agency used fish early life stage (ELS) tests to estimate chronic fish toxicity. This is inappropriate. The fish ELS is a sub-chronic test of sensitive life stages. Although it is often used as a surrogate or predictor of chronic toxicity, it does not adequately address potential adverse effects on reproduction or transfer of the test chemical to eggs/offspring […]

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Take Action: Bill Addresses PFAS; Remediation Needed for All Legacy Chemicals

Monday, November 7th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2022) The Maine Congressional delegation — Senators Collins (R) and Angus King (I), and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D) and Jared Golden (D), along with New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) — have  introduced a bipartisan bill — the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act — to help farmers who have been adversely affected by the scourge of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals. The bills are the identical S. 5070 and H.R. 9186, both titled “Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act.” Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to cosponsor the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act. If they are already cosponsors, thank them. Tell EPA to stop the spread of legacy chemicals. PFAS chemicals, also known as “forever chemicals,” are legacy contaminants or those whose historical use, including many decades ago in some instances, has led to their toxic persistence in the environment and in organisms. PFAS chemicals are not the only legacy contaminants. Others include wood preservatives, DDT, dioxins, and the termiticide chlordane. Unfortunately, some of these continue to be added to the environment, sometimes inadvertently, but also intentionally, particularly through pesticide use. As indicated by the title of these bills, farmers […]

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EPA Needs to End the Legacy of Toxic Wood Preservatives Now

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2022) Regulation of toxic chemicals must recognize the reality that, “The cocktail of chemical pollution that pervades the planet now threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends,” as stated by The Guardian. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the dangers of a toxic chemical—especially one persistent in the environment—it must take immediate action to prevent further contamination. So, allowing the phase-out of chemicals with long residual life can extend the poisoning and contamination for generations. Tell EPA to immediately ban all uses of pentachlorophenol and other toxic wood preservatives. Tell Congress to ensure that EPA does its job.  There is an ongoing crisis, widely reported, posed by the nearly ubiquitous presence of “forever chemicals”—poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and their relatives. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that 97% of Americans have PFAS in their blood. The Safer States Network finds that more than 210 bills will be considered in at least 32 states in 2022 to try to address the problem. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating containers that store pesticide products, and subsequently the products themselves. PFAS […]

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With Market Collapse, EPA Cancels Highly Hazardous Wood Preservative Years after Worldwide Ban

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2022) After nearly a century of use, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is officially cancelling the highly toxic wood preservative pentachlorophenol (penta). As one of the most dangerous pesticides ever produced, penta poses unacceptable risks to workers and surrounding communities, which often became superfund sites once manufacturing plants closed. According to the agency, “During the registration review process, EPA found that given the emergence of viable alternatives, the risks pentachlorophenol poses to workers’ health outweigh the benefits of its use.” Health and environmental advocates are pleased with the agency’s long overdue action on penta but remain incredulous that EPA has provided a generous phase-out for the utility and wood preservative industry, allowing use to continue for up to 5 years. Beyond Pesticides has been working to ban pentachlorophenol, creosote, and copper chromated arsenate since its founding in 1981. (See history of Beyond Pesticides’ work and litigation.) EPA’s statement on alternatives and workers’ health is a telling example for the public regarding the way in which the agency consistently places economic decisions above American’s safety. EPA has long known about the dangers penta poses to health, particularly the health of workers in penta production or treatment plants. […]

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Words, “All life is interrelated,” 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.— MLK Day, Monday, January 17 — 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, “It 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.” There may be no better description of what is at stake in environmental justice work — 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’s 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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After EPA Administrator Tours People of Color Community Poisoned by Creosote Wood Preservative, a Call to Ban It

Monday, December 20th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2021) Despite a high-profile tour of communities affected by toxic chemicals by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, EPA still fails to make connections that could help protect against poisoning of workers, fenceline communities, and others. For example, as Mr. Regan, in November, visited Houston, Texas, where thousands of residents are suing Union Pacific Railroad Company for contaminating their properties with highly hazardous creosote wood preservatives, EPA is in the process of reauthorizing creosote use for another 15 years with the knowledge that it is virtually impossible to produce and use without causing contamination and poisoning. Tell EPA to truly integrate environmental justice into all of EPA’s programs.  Environmental justice issues arise at every stage of the cradle-to-grave life cycle of toxic chemicals, from production, transportation, handling, and use, to disposal. Petroleum refineries are likely to be sited near poor communities composed of people of color. Mines contaminate tribal lands and poor rural communities. Manufacturing facilities are also located near low-income neighborhoods, employing their inhabitants in hazardous jobs. Pesticides are applied by farmworkers whose housing is surrounded by poisoned fields. And, coming full circle, hazardous waste “disposal” sites are surrounded by low-income communities. In April, […]

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Houston Residents Sue City, Railroad, for Poisoning and Contamination Caused by Creosote Wood Preservative

Thursday, December 2nd, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, December 2, 2021) Thousands of residents in Houston, Texas are suing Union Pacific Railroad Company for contaminating their properties with highly hazardous creosote wood preservatives. One of these lawsuits comes from Latonya Payne, legal guardian of Corinthian Giles, a 13-year-old boy who died of leukemia after a five year battle with the disease. A recent report found that the community is in the midst of a childhood leukemia cancer cluster, with disease rates five times the national average. Late last month, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan toured the area as part of his Journey to Justice tour. However, while Administrator Regan vows federal assistance with the cleanup of these long-lived chemicals, EPA is currently in the process of reauthorizing creosote use for another 15 years with the knowledge that it is virtually impossible to produce and use without causing contamination and poisoning. Some environmental advocates are suggesting that Administrator Regan take a tour of EPA’s pesticide registration program and stop the unnecessary poisoning that disproportionately affects people of color and those with vulnerabilities or preexisting medical conditions that increase their vulnerability to toxic chemical exposure. While advocates say that cleaning up EPA’s mess in communities […]

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Bayer Loses Bid to Overturn Neonicotinoid Ban in Europe

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2021) Last week, multinational agrichemical company Bayer Cropscience lost its bid to overturn a 2018 ban on bee-toxic neonicotinoids throughout the European Union. The ruling from the European Court of Justice rejected all grounds on which the company filed its appeal, noting, “It must be held that the arguments put forward by Bayer CropScience cannot, in any event, succeed.” In denying the appeal, the court ruled Bayer responsible for paying its own legal fees, as well as the fees of environmental organizations that intervened to defend the ban. Environmental groups are applauding the ruling, as it reinforces several important aspects of the EU’s pesticide policy that favor greater public health and environmental protections. In an interview with EURACTIV, policy officer Martin Dermine at Pesticide Action Network Europe notes that the decision provides more leeway for pesticide regulators to consider new scientific evidence on pesticide hazards. “More than that,” he told EURACTIV, “the Court confirms the definition of the precautionary principle:  in case of doubts on the toxicity of a pesticide, the European Commission is entitled to ban it.” Pesticide regulators in Europe began restricting neonicotinoids in 2013, when a continent-wide moratorium was put in place based […]

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EPA Proposes Cancellation of Highly Toxic Wood Preservative Pentachlorophenol (“Penta”)

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2021) Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an interim decision to cancel of one of the most hazardous pesticides still used in the United States, pentachlorophenol (penta). Although long overdue, health advocates are hailing the agency’s action, taken due to significant risks to human health, the availability of alternatives, and the uncertain future of penta production. Many advocates hope that EPA’s announcement is the start of a pivot to science-based decision-making in the best interest of health and the environment, not the pockets of pesticide industry executives. Cancellation of this toxic chemical will bring  the U.S. into conformance with the Stockholm Convention, an international treaty to ban persistent organic pollutants (POPs) joined by over 150 countries that was never ratified by the U.S. “This has been a long time coming,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “After decades of scientific reports, lawsuits, regulatory comments, and an international ban, we’re glad EPA finally acknowledged the intrinsic dangers posed by continuing penta’s registration. We urge the agency expedite its slow cancellation timeline so that we can finally eliminate this unnecessary pollutant.” Produced for its ability to preserve wood through pressure treatment, penta has been […]

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Take Action by Sept. 13: Tell Canada to Ban Horrifically Hazardous Wood Preservative Pentachlorophenol

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2020) Canada should be in accordance with international treaty to eliminate persistent pollutants.  Canada is considering the elimination of one of the worst persistent pollutants—pentachlorophenol (penta)—that dot our landscape in utility poles and railroad ties. This wood preservative—a cancer-causing chemical with dioxin, furans, and hexachlorobenzene that causes health and environmental degradation—has no place in society as we struggle with shared global challenges of public and worker health threats, the climate crisis, and biodiversity decline. We have a chance to urge Canada to move ahead with a pentachlorophenol ban, joining with Mexico to show leadership in the protection of health and the environment—something the U.S. has not done. Tell Canada to ban pentachlorophenol. Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is accepting comments on a proposal to ban the all uses of penta in Canada. Comments are due September 13. Canada is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which voted 90-2 to ban penta in 2015. The United States is not a signatory to the Stockholm Convention and still allows the use of penta on utility poles and other “wood that is subject to decay or insect infestation, including supporting structures in contact with […]

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As the World Bans Highly Toxic Wood Preservative, Pentachlorophenol, a Low-Income U.S. Community May Be Home to the Last Production Plant

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

UPDATE: The same day Beyond Pesticides published this piece, Gulbrandsen Chemicals announced it would drop its effort to produce pentachlorophenol in Orangeburg, SC, according to The State newspaper. (Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2020) Orangeburg, South Carolina may be the last place in the world to produce one of the most toxic pesticides known to humanity, pentachlorphenol. Despite a global ban on “penta” in 2016, in force in 186 countries, the United States has continued to import and use this hazardous wood preservative on telephone poles and railroad ties throughout the country. Now, with Mexico set to close one of the last production plants in the world, Gulbrandsen Chemicals Inc. wants to make Orangeburg, a majority black community with a population three times the U.S. poverty rate, the new epicenter for penta manufacturing. Overview and History Penta is used to pressure treat wood, with the aim of prolonging its use in utility poles and railroad ties. Beyond Pesticides has sounded the alarm on penta and other wood preservatives for over 20 years, starting with the reports Pole Pollution and Poison Poles, which outlined the science on the hazards and and alternatives to preservative-coated utility poles. Penta is a particularly concerning wood […]

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Massachusetts Residents Raise Health Concerns about Creosote Railroad Ties in Their Community

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2018) Residents in the town of Great Barrington, MA are concerned about the health effects that could result from creosote-coated railroad ties stored in their neighborhood. According to a report in the Berkshire Eagle, soon after the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MDOT) parked a load of railroad ties along tracks that cut through a neighborhood, community members began to complain about the smell. Creosote is a mixture of thousands of different chemical compounds. Derived mainly from coal tar and regulated as a pesticide by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the material represents a significant hazard that puts people and the environment in danger, and can be readily replaced by safer, alternative materials. “I would want to roll up my windows immediately,” Beth Rose told the Berkshire Eagle. Another Great Barrington resident, Jeanne Bachetti, told the paper, “I started to smell them right after they moved [them] in there. Sometimes we get a propane smell from [nearby] AmeriGas, so I couldn’t tell. Then it dawned on me — that’s not gas.” MDOT is currently in the process of a project to upgrade roughly 40 miles of freight line, and is using 60,000 railroad ties as part […]

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Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Over Dioxin Contamination from Poison Poles in Central California

Friday, September 14th, 2018

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2018) A lawsuit first filed nearly a decade ago over dioxin contamination released from the storage of chemical treated utility poles was settled this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Judge Richard Seeborg signed the agreement between California utility company Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Ecological Rights Foundation (ERF), which commits PG&E to identifying storage yards holding treated poles, and implementing technologies that reduce dioxin levels through the year 2026. The utility poles of concern were treated with the chemical pentachlorophenol, which is regulated as a pesticide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is known to produce dioxin as a byproduct of its manufacture. “Dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science,” noted ERF attorney Fredric Evenson to KPIX 5.  “This has been a hard-fought legal battle, but in the end PG&E now appears to understand that dioxin has no business in our bay, and will now take meaningful action to benefit San Francisco Bay’s wildlife and residents who eat locally caught seafood.” As part of the settlement, PG&E is not required to admit any wrongdoing. “Because environmental stewardship is a guiding principle at PG&E, we are pleased […]

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