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Daily News Blog

21
Sep

U.S. Court of Appeal Rejects California’s Approval of Bee-Killing Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2017) The First District California Court of Appeal issued an opinion Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging a California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) decision to approve additional uses for two bee-killing pesticides without disclosing the impact on honeybees. Pesticide Action Network, Center for Food Safety, and Beyond Pesticides, represented by Earthjustice, filed the underlying lawsuit in 2014, seeking to halt DPR’s practice of approving ever more uses for neonicotinoid pesticides pending completion of the agency’s languishing scientific review of the evidence linking agricultural use of neonicotinoids to a global honeybee die-off. DPR began its scientific review in early 2009 after it received evidence that neonicotinoids are killing bees, but DPR has yet to complete its review or take meaningful action to protect bees. Instead, DPR has continued to allow increased use of neonicotinoids in California. “DPR acknowledged almost 10 years ago that neonicotinoids are killing bees, yet the agency has approved more and more uses for these toxic pesticides every year since,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who represented the groups. “It’s time for DPR to do its job and protect honeybees and the multi-billion dollar agricultural economy that bees . . .

20
Sep

European Regulators Lifted Language from Monsanto in Concluding that Glyphosate (Roundup) is Not Carcinogenic

(Beyond Pesticides, September 20, 2017) The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) copied dozens of pages from a Monsanto study in reaching its conclusion that glyphosate (Roundup) is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans,” according to recent report in The Guardian. EFSA’s recommendation is supposed to provide an independent analysis for European Union (EU) member states, which are deciding whether to approve the chemical. However, the scandal is raising new questions over the multinational chemical industry’s influence over the upcoming November vote. Late last month, French officials indicated they will vote against the reauthorization of glyphosate in the EU. EFSA’s recommendation on glyphosate, known as its renewal assessment report (RAR), was released in 2015. EFSA’s RAR was released eight months after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from laboratory studies. At the time of the release, Beyond Pesticides and other watchdog groups noted that EFSA’s RAR only evaluated technical grade glyphosate, and not formulated glyphosate products, such as Roundup, which have inert ingredients that increase the overall toxicity of the product. EFSA indicated as much in the RAR, suggesting . . .

19
Sep

Organic Better than Chemical-Intensive Agriculture at Fighting Climate Change

(Beyond Pesticides, September 19, 2017) Soils on organic farms sequester more carbon for a longer period of time when compared to the soil on conventional chemical-intensive farms, according to a study conducted by researchers from Northeastern University and The Organic Center. The continuing effects of climate change necessitate a robust approach to both limiting and reducing carbon in the earth’s atmosphere. As the study shows, a wholesale transition from conventional to organic farming could play an important part in mitigating the effects of a warming planet. In order to assess the impact of the differing production practices, researchers compared the soil on over 1000 organic and conventional farms throughout the U.S. Focus was placed on how the different approaches impact soil organic carbon, which is simply the amount of carbon contained in soil, and consists of two sources. The first is carbon that cycles through air, soil, and microorganisms. The second is more stable in the soil, and is contained in soil humus. Humus is not cycled in and out of soil. It is a complex of decayed organic matter that stores essential elements including carbon and nutrients in a highly stable state. . . .

18
Sep

Action: Tell California To Ban Chlorpyrifos, a Dangerous Developmental Poison!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2017) Ask California to ban the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos that’s on the food we eat from California –since the administrator of EPA refused to take the action agency scientists said is necessary to protect children. Tell California to ban chlorpyrifos! In view of EPA’s retraction of its proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of the highly neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos, despite its own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is especially important that California take action to ban the chemical. California, the home of the largest agriculture industry in the country, used over 1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos on over a million acres in 2012. EPA’s assessment is also support for the classification of chlorpyrifos as a developmental toxicant, an issue being considered on a parallel track by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which oversees the “Prop 65” list. EPA’s assessment, which incorporates recommendations from a 2016 Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos have mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorders. The SAP agreed with EPA that there is an association between chlorpyrifos prenatal exposure and . . .

15
Sep

Illegal Cannabis Operations Are Fouling California Waterways with Banned Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, September 15, 2017) Illegal cannabis grow operations are polluting California waterways with banned pesticides, according to reports from Reuters. Despite recent legalization of recreational marijuana in the state, California still accounts for over 90% of illegal grow operations within the U.S. The extent of contamination puts wildlife and drinking water at risk, necessitating increased monitoring and enforcement to stop ongoing ecological damage. Unreleased reports obtained by Reuters indicate the presence of pesticides, such as diazanon and carbofuran, which have been linked to a range of adverse human health outcomes. Both chemicals inhibit acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme important for the transmission of nerve impulses. When AChE is inhibited, acetylcholine accumulates leading to overstimulation of neurotransmitters, resulting in muscle weakness, confusion, and paralysis, among other symptoms. Both chemicals have also been shown to be highly toxic to birds. According to EPA reports from the 1980s, carbofuran applications contributed to the death of between one and two million birds each year. Diazinon has likewise been linked to hundreds of bird kill incidents, with reports in the 1980s involving over 23 bird species in 18 states. Reuters reports that law enforcement officers have been hospitalized from only . . .

14
Sep

Pesticide-Induced Autism Risk Reduced with Important Vitamin

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2017) Children whose mothers took folic acid while pregnant had a significantly lower risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) even when their mothers were exposed to household or agricultural pesticides. Researchers at the University of California, Davis found that taking folic acid during the window around conception, reduced the risk of pesticide-induced autism. In the study, “Combined Prenatal Pesticide Exposure and Folic Acid Intake in Relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder,” children whose mothers took 800 or more micrograms of folic acid (the amount in most prenatal vitamins) had a significantly lower risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, even when their mothers were exposed to household or agricultural pesticides that are associated with increased risk. The study used data from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study, where researchers looked at 296 children between 2 and 5 who had been diagnosed with ASD and 220 who had developed typically. Mothers were interviewed about their household pesticide exposure during pregnancy, as well as their folic acid and B vitamin intake. The team also linked data from California Pesticide Use reports, which provided important details about agricultural spraying, . . .

13
Sep

Monarch Butterflies at Risk of Extinction; Pesticides, Habitat Loss to Blame

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2017) According to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation, Monarch butterfly populations from western North America have declined far more dramatically than was previously known and face a greater risk of extinction – 86 percent in the next 50 years. The researchers do not know the exact cause but identify habitat loss and widespread pesticide use as likely culprits. Migratory monarchs in the west could disappear in the next few decades if steps are not taken to recover the population, the study’s lead author, Cheryl Schultz, PhD, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver states. “Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts. In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000,” she said. Western monarchs (Danaus plexippus) have a spectacular migration. They overwinter in forested groves along coastal California, then lay their eggs on milkweed and drink nectar from flowers in the spring in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah. They then return to their coastal overwintering sites in the fall. Eastern monarch, whose numbers are also in decline, travel instead across the border into Mexico to . . .

12
Sep

England’s School Lunch Program Tainted with Multiple Pesticides, Signaling Need for Organic Transition

(Beyond Pesticides, September 12, 2017) A new report released by Pesticide Action Network-UK finds that children in England’s schools are exposed to 123 pesticide residues in their daily lunches. The results call attention to the health and safety implications of pesticide exposure to children, which have developing body systems more sensitive to pesticide exposure. PAN-UK and other health groups are calling for a wholesale changeover to serving onlyorganic fruits and vegetables in schools. England’s Department of Health runs a School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme that provides children aged four to six with one free piece of fruit or vegetable each school day. There is no doubt of the scheme’s good intentions, as it aims to help children reach a recommended five servings of healthy food each day. However, PAN-UK discovered over 123 different pesticide residues found on the food items distributed to school children. Well over 70% of raisins, soft citrus, pears, strawberries, and apples had more than one pesticide residue found on them. There is a well-known and developing body of scientific literature which finds that mixtures of pesticide residues can result in synergistic impacts which increase toxicity when compared to an active . . .

11
Sep

Tell Ben & Jerry’s CEO: Get pesticides out of your ice cream!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2017) Ten of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tested positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s dangerous Roundup herbicide. The ice cream brand says its social mission “seeks to meet human needs and eliminate the injustices in our local, national and international communities,” and that its focus is “on children and families, the environment and sustainable agriculture on family farms.” Send a message to B&J CEO now! Behind the iconic ice cream brand’s greenwashed façade is an unfortunate truth: its ice cream relies on a dairy industry that produces contaminated food, poisons Vermont’s waterways, abuses animals, exploits workers, bankrupts farmers, and contributes to climate change. Unless Ben & Jerry’s goes organic, its practices are responsible for: •    Running Vermont family farms out of business. •    Polluting Vermont’s waterways. •    Abusing animals. •    Exploiting farmworkers. •    Contributing to climate change. •    Putting human health at risk. In addition to the above problems, pesticides like Roundup, atrazine, and metolachlor —all carcinogens and endocrine disruptors— have devastating effects on human health. And they’re in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Yet, the . . .

08
Sep

A Healthy Wetland Shown To Be an Important Tool in Mosquito Management

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2017) Wetlands are important habitats for many creatures, and provide critical environmental services that impact human, economic, and social activity and mosquito management. Wetlands improve water quality, sequester carbon, remove or neutralize pollutants, control flooding, protect adjacent areas from erosion, and host a multitude of beneficial plant and animal species — not to mention their recreational and aesthetic value.As recently reported in The Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal, a federally funded project underscores the importance of wetlands in controlling mosquito populations. The Courier-Journal article highlights the construction of 12,000 square feet of new wetlands and marshlands in Louisville. The project was funded with a $9,500 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and arose from the partnership of the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District, the Sheltowee Environmental Education Coalition, and a local nonprofit, the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center. Thomas Biebighauser, a wildlife and wetlands biologist, designed the project, which also involved engineering students from the University of Louisville. Impetus for the initiative was in part educational, and in part, a response to the facts that as far back as the 1980s, the area had lost more than 70% of its original wetlands to agriculture and . . .

07
Sep

Lawsuit Filed on GE Food Labeling

(Beyond Pesticides, September 7, 2017) Last month, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration for its failure to comply with the 2016 federal law on the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food, National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law.  Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are charged with implementing the new labeling rules, and part of that process is a study on “electronic and digital disclosures” (QR codes) for GE foods, as opposed to on-package text.  That study was required to be finished by July 2017, with an opportunity for public commetn, but USDA never met it legal obligation. The federal lawsuit is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against USDA regarding that agency’s failure to comply with mandatory deadlines established by the 2016 Federal Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standards Act (the “GE Labeling Act”). The suit contends that the “American public deserves full disclosure, the right to transparency and free choice in the marketplace.” Consumers have advocated for mandatory labeling of GE foods for nearly two decades. Polls show that over 90% of U.S. residents support requiring the labeling of GE foods, as 64 countries . . .

06
Sep

Farmers’ Greater Risk of Diabetes Linked to Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, September, 2017) A recently released report, Gallup-Sharecare State of Well-Being: The Face of Diabetes in the United States, looks at high diabetes rates across various U.S. demographic groups, including those in farming. People working in the transportation sector registered the highest incidence of diagnosed diabetes at 10.6%. But those working as farmers and fishermen came in second, with 8.5% reporting a diagnosis of the disease. Based on a self-reporting survey, The Face of Diabetes in the United States did not differentiate between Type 1 diabetes (which typically manifests in childhood or young adulthood) and Type 2 diabetes (which commonly emerges in adulthood). It did, however, consider lifestyle risk factors that can influence development of each form of the disease. The “farmer and fisher” folks placed more-or-less in the mid-range among all occupations vis-à-vis several of the lifestyle factors that can impact development of the disease (smoking, diet, and obesity), and a bit higher in alcohol consumption, but in fact, reported more exercise than any other category of worker. These data points would seem to suggest that farmers would be at less risk than those in some other occupational categories. For instance, those working . . .

05
Sep

September’s PolliNATION Pollinator of the Month – The Bog Copper Butterfly

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2017) The bog copper butterfly (Lycaena epixante) is a member of the second largest family of butterflies, Lycaenidae, which includes over 4,700 species worldwide. Also known as the cranberry-bog copper butterfly, the species has strong biological ties to cranberry plants and its associated habitat. Range Bog coppers are unevenly distributed throughout Northeast United States and into Canada, with some ranging as far west as Minnesota. Populations are generally concentrated in acid bog environments containing wild cranberry, but have also been sighted in other damp acidic habitats, such as wet meadows. The butterfly requires an environment that is wet year-round, with ample sunlight. Bog coppers are highly adapted to this environment and do not migrate. Diet and Pollination The life cycle of the bog copper strongly depends on cranberry plants. Female butterflies lay single eggs leaves in late summer or early fall on the leaves of cranberry plants, usually near the edge of the bog, covered with sedges. Each female may lay 20-40 eggs. After developing into a first stage larva within the egg, the larva is protected from ice and freezing temperature during the winter by entering state of . . .

01
Sep

Take Action this Labor Day: Tell Your Governor to Stop Monsanto’s False Safety Claims that Hurt Workers

(Beyond Pesticides, September 1, 2017) Tell your Governor to stop Monsanto from making false and deceptive claims about glyphosate (Roundup) –a pesticide that hurts workers. Because of its wide use by workers in parks, along utility and railroad rights-of-way, and on farms, use of Monsanto’s glyphosate results in more exposure than any other pesticide. Monsanto has developed and continues to grow its market for this product with false claims of the safety of the toxic chemical. Glyphosate is listed as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (World Health Organization) and disrupts a pathway in humans necessary for healthy functioning of the gut microbiome. Meanwhile, Monsanto actively advertises and promotes its Roundup products as targeting an enzyme “found in plants but not in people or pets.” Act now to urge your Governor to act on false claims by Monsanto. Although EPA considers glyphosate to be “of relatively low oral and dermal acute toxicity,” symptoms workers could experience following exposure to glyphosate formulations include: swollen eyes, face, and joints; facial numbness; burning and/or itching skin; blisters; rapid heart rate; elevated blood pressure; chest pains, congestion; coughing; headache; and nausea. The additional . . .

31
Aug

Birth Abnormalities Linked to Pesticide Exposures

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2017) Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara report in a new study that exposure to pesticides as a result of living near agricultural areas increases the risk of giving birth to a baby with abnormalities. These results are more significant for those exposed to very high levels of pesticides, underscoring the continued risks faced by farmworkers and farmworker families, especially mothers living near chemically-intensive treated fields. The study, “Agricultural pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes in the San Joaquin Valley of California,” looked at individual birth and demographic characteristics for over 500,000 birth observations between 1997 and 2011 in the agriculturally dominated San Joaquin Valley, California. The researchers, who report their findings as, “the most comprehensive to date, bringing together the largest data file ever compiled on street-address level birth outcomes and fine scale exposure to agricultural pesticides,” analyzed residential agricultural pesticide exposure during gestation, by trimester, and by toxicity influences on birth outcomes: birth weight, gestational length, or birth abnormalities. Adverse birth outcomes increased by 5–9% among those exposed to very high quantities of pesticides (e.g., top 5th percentile, i.e., ~4,200 kg per square mile applied over gestation). According to the results, “ The . . .

30
Aug

Study Finds Suicides Linked to Toxic Agricultural Pesticides, Authors Call for Global Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2017) Preventing the 250,000 farmer suicides globally from pesticide self-poisoning requires more than household security measures. It requires the removal of highly toxic pesticides from the market, according to a study recently published by The Lancet. Global suicide rates associated with pesticide use is tracked by the World Health Organization, with 89% taking place in rural Asia, where the current study was conducted. By encouraging a transition to safer organic practices, and implementing restrictions on imports containing toxic pesticides, developed countries like the U.S. can assist in reducing farmer suicide rates. Research in The Lancet, published by a team of scientists from Sri Lanka and the UK, looked at suicide rates within 180 Sri Lankan villages, representing over 200,000 individuals and over 50,000 households, over the course of three years. Households in half of the villages (90) received lockable pesticide storage containers, while the remaining villages, acting as a control group, did not. Suicide by pesticide is associated with impulsivity, the authors indicate, so the purpose of the study was to investigate whether encouraging active individual means to restrict access (means restrictions) would lower suicide rates. Means restriction is a . . .

29
Aug

Neurotoxic Pesticide Detected in Air at High Levels in California County

(Beyond Pesticides, August 29, 2017) Air monitoring in Kern County, California, finds levels of the highly neurotoxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, in excess of the levels of concern established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for pregnant women. Chlorpyrifos is linked to low IQs, autism and other developmental neurological effects. Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt refused to ban chlorpyrifos to the dismay of many scientists, medical professionals, and farmworker organizations. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) released its 2016 air monitoring data where it was revealed that chlorpyrifos air concentrations for a one-month period at the air monitoring site on the campus of Shafter High School in Kern County was 39.4 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) – more than 18 times higher than EPA’s level of concern for pregnant women (2.1 ng/m3).  Shafter High School is some distance from fields in an area where chlorpyrifos use is not as high as in other parts of Kern County or elsewhere in California. More than 1.1 million pounds of chlorpyrifos was used in California in 2015, and more than a quarter of that is used in Kern County. High chlorpyrifos levels at a school means . . .

28
Aug

Take Action: Back-to-School; Stop the Toxic Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2017) School policies must protect children from pesticides by adopting organic land and building management policies and serving organic food in cafeterias. At the start of the school year, it is critical for school administrators to make sure that students and teachers are learning and teaching in an environment where no hazardous pesticides are used in the school’s buildings or on playing fields. It is also essential that children have access to organic food in food programs and manage school gardens organically. Send a letter to your local officials urging them to tell school districts to adopt organic management and serve organic food to students. In addition, there are other things you can do: Whether a parent, teacher, student, school administrator, landscaper or community advocate, there are steps that should be taken to make sure the school environment is a safe from toxic chemicals, as the new school year begins. For Parents and Teachers: Because children face unique hazards from pesticide exposure due to their smaller size and developing organ systems, using toxic pesticides to get control insects, germs, and weeds can harm students much more than it helps. The good news is that these poisons . . .

25
Aug

Organic Agriculture: Visions and Challenges –Topic of Article

(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2017) While organic agriculture still represents only a fraction of the world’s food production, organic food sales have enjoyed remarkable growth over the past couple of decades, which is captured in a recent article, Building a global platform for organic farming research, innovation and technology transfer, published by Springer online. This growth of organic is propelled by consumers and farmers who recognize significant environmental and health advantages of organic, compared to chemical-intensive agriculture. In this context, studies conclude that organic agriculture may be the best way to meet the world’s food security and environmental needs. A bit of history for some context on this issue: for millennia, of course, all agricultural was “organic.” Even the Industrial Revolution — which brought the combustion engine that enabled machines that made tilling, planting, and harvesting less animal-bound and human-labor intensive — had minimal impact on other aspects of how food was planted, raised, and harvested. In the 1960s, the so-called “Green Revolution” took hold, powered in part by the post-WWII technological and industrial boom in scientific and technical discoveries and applications, and in part by a rapidly growing global population that shared . . .

24
Aug

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Stop Queen Bumblebees from Laying Eggs, Raising Extinction Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2017) Common pesticides used on canola crops significantly reduce bumblebee egg laying and may lead to local population extinction, according to new research published in the journal Nature by scientists at the Royal Holloway University of London. This is the latest study to investigate how neonicotinoids, insecticides linked to the global decline of pollinator populations, are changing the landscape that humans rely on for food production and other ecological services. Although this eye-opening study should be a wake-up call for regulators in the U.S., there is little indication that federal agencies tasked with protecting pollinators and the wider environment are willing to make changes that would affect the profits of multinational chemical companies. Researchers began their study by visiting canola fields in the United Kingdom that had been treated with neonicotinoids, observing the distribution of various bumblebee species. One of the most abundant species found is Bombus terrestris, a key pollinator and the most common bumblebee throughout Europe. Colonies of B. terrestris were then purchased commercially, and roughly 230 queens were successfully mated in the lab. In addition to pesticide exposure, scientists used length of hibernation as a variable in . . .

23
Aug

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Expansion of Aquaculture Industry that Decimates Marine Life

(Beyond Pesticides, August 23, 2017) The Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with an expansion of industrial shellfish aquaculture on the Washington state coast without any water quality or marine life protections from pesticide use and habitat loss. This is just the latest in efforts to protect sensitive coastal areas in Washington from shellfish farming that is contributing to increased pesticide use and environmental degradation. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington earlier this month, challenges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issuance of a nationwide permit (NWP 48), which, according to the suit, “greenlights a massive expansion of shellfish aquaculture with entirely inadequate protections.” The Corps has a duty to protect public water from adverse impacts, but potential environmental impacts have not properly assessed or considered, the suit claims, in violation of the Corps’ environmental protection mission. The lawsuit argues that the Corps, when it approved the Washington state permit, violated numerous environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedure Act. According to CFS, the permit issued . . .

22
Aug

USGS Report Shows Dozens of Pesticides Consistently Found in Midwestern Streams, Underscoring the Need for Organic Practices

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2017) Streams in the Midwestern U,S. are polluted with complex mixtures averaging over 50 pesticides each, according to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report published earlier this month. This is the latest and also most extensive study on pesticide contamination in U.S. streams to date. The shocking results put many aquatic plants and animals at existential risk, leading health and environmental advocates to ask how the federal government can continue to permit U.S. streams to be used as a mixing bowl for toxic pesticide compounds. Each week between May and August of 2013, USGS sampled 100 streams located in 11 Midwestern states for 228 pesticides and their breakdown products. Based on site location, 88 of these streams are considered agricultural, while 12 are considered urban. “About 150 million pounds of pesticides are applied annually in the Midwestern U.S.,” said Lisa Nowell, PhD, research chemist and lead scientist on the study. “Understanding which pesticides are occurring at levels potentially toxic to aquatic life, and where they occur, is crucial to informing management decisions.” Of the 1,200 samples collected over the study’s 12 week period, scientists detected 183 pesticide compounds . . .
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