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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Head lice' Category


20
Aug

Lice Found Resistant to Common Insecticide Treatment

(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2015) Just as children go  back to school, research  finds that lice in 25 of 30 states in a  U.S. study have developed resistance to common over-the-counter treatments like permethrin, calling into questions the justification for exposing children to a neurotoxic and carcinogenic pesticide and elevating the need to consider nontoxic alternatives. The  research was presented Tuesday at the 250th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), by Kyong Yoon, Ph.D., of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Classified as a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide, permethrin is “likely carcinogenic” and a suspected endocrine disruptor, immunotoxic, neurotoxic, and highly toxic to fish, aquatic animals, and bees. Dr. Yoon and his colleagues describe the threefold mutations that lice have developed over time due to the constant use of synthetic pyrethroid insecticides. This new finding builds on his team’s previous research, which found that 99.6% of lice are resistant to chemical treatment, adding weight to the fact that chemical treatments not only are unnecessary given effective least-toxic alternatives, but also are not able to provide the lice control that manufacturers claim. “We are the first group to collect lice samples from a large number of populations across the U.S.,” […]

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24
Jun

Popular Weed Killer 2,4-D and Lice Treatment Lindane Classified as Carcinogens

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2015) The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found that there is some evidence in experimental animals that the popular herbicide, 2,4-D, is linked to cancer and now classifies it as a Group 2B, “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” IARC also classified lindane, used commonly in the U.S. as a topical lice treatment, in Group 1,“carcinogenic to humans” based on sufficient evidence in humans with the onset of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). These latest cancer findings come just months after the agency classified the world’s most widely used herbicide, glyphosate (Roundup), as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” raising public concerns on the lack of action from U.S. regulators. This month, 26 experts from 13 countries met at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) IARC in Lyon, France to assess the carcinogenicity of the insecticide lindane, the herbicide 2,4-D, and insecticide DDT. The findings are published in the Lancet. The new IARC findings come months after the agency classified glyphosate, the ingredient in the popular Roundup weed killer, as a Group 2A “probable” carcinogen, citing sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity based on laboratory studies. This decision sparked renewed calls for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action on […]

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11
Mar

Scientists Determine 99.6% of Lice Resistant to Chemical Treatment

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2014)  Virtually all lice in the U.S. have developed resistance to over-the-counter and prescription shampoos containing the toxic chemical permethrin. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs  considers permethrin, part of the synthetic pyrethroid class of chemicals, “likely to be carcinogenic.” However, when used as a lice shampoo the chemical is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and allowed for use on infants over two months old. The latest study on lice resistance, published in the Journal of the Entomological Society of America, shows that harsh chemical treatments not only are not necessary given effective least-toxic alternatives, but also are not able to provide the lice control that manufacturers claim. “In the UK and Europe, they don’t even use pyrethroids anymore. Virtually everyone but the United States and Canada has given up using these over-the-counter products,” said Dr. John Clark, PhD, a professor of environmental toxicology and chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and co-author of the new study. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press,  Eric Ayers, MD of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan noted that lice that are not killed by the chemical treatment not only survive, but become […]

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03
Dec

FDA Allows Lindane Use to Continue Despite Health Risks and Calls for a Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, December 3, 2012) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has denied a 2010 petition filed by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PAN) to ban the insecticide lindane, which is harmful to human health and ineffective in controlling lice and scabies. Pressure had been mounting on FDA to halt the pharmaceutical use of lindane as, in addition to this petition, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, asked FDA to stop the pharmaceutical use of lindane this past summer. Because of FDA’s decision, lindane is still an active ingredient in pharmaceutical insecticide products such as lice shampoos and lotions. Lindane was formerly used in agricultural insecticides until it was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on crops in 2006. FDA regulates pharmaceuticals that contain insecticides and pesticides, such as triclosan, that are in cosmetics. Over 160 countries including the United States have signed on to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in 2001 which aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic polluntants. Lindane along with nine other chemcials was added to this list on May 9th […]

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16
Nov

Drug Will Turn Your Blood into a Pesticide Toxic to Bed Bugs

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2012) New research suggests that the drug Stromectal (manufactured by Merck & Co.), which is typically used to treat parasitic worms, may also kill bed bugs. The active ingredient in the drug is ivermectin, which has also been getting publicity recently for its efficacy in killing head lice. Unfortunately, ivermectin, a member of the avermectin family of compounds, appears risky, and even unnecessary given that there are safe non-toxic methods to control and prevent bed bug and head lice infestations. John Sheele, M.D., an emergency physician at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk who led the bed bug study, tested ivermectin on himself and three colleagues over the course of five different blood meals using three adult and three juvenile bed bugs. They allowed the bed bugs to feed on them before taking the drug and 3, 8, 22 and 54 hours after consuming the same combinations of different insecticides. Within three hours of feeding on blood containing ivermectin, the bed bugs began to die. David Pariser, M.D., also of Eastern Virginia Medical School, led a different study that looked at the efficacy of using ivermectin applied topically to control head lice. Researchers found that after […]

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13
Jun

Congressman Asks FDA to Halt Toxic Pesticide Lindane for Head Lice

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2012) Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has asked the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt the use of the insecticide lindane in pharmaceutical treatments for head lice in children. Despite research on its toxicity and ineffectiveness, FDA continues to allow lindane to be used in prescription shampoos and lotions to treat cases of lice and scabies, overwhelmingly on children. Rep. Markey’s letter to the FDA can be found here. Lindane has been found to cause skin irritation, seizures, and, in rare instances, even death. Infants and children are especially sensitive to the health risks posed by pesticides such as lindane because of their developing bodies. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that lindane could cause cancer in humans, and the EPA cancelled all pesticide registrations for agricultural uses of lindane in 2006 because of its toxicity to humans and persistence in the environment. It was banned in California in 2000 because of high levels of water contamination. Following the ban, water contamination drastically declined, and an increase in head lice cases was not reported. A 2002 study that compared efficacy […]

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23
Feb

New Study Finds Insecticidal Lice Shampoos Contaminate Children’s Bodies

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2009) Permethrin and lindane metabolites are found in children who use lice shampoos containing the insecticides, according to researchers affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study, “Pesticide exposure resulting from treatment of lice infestations in school-aged children in Georgia,” published in the February issue of the journal Environment International, is the first to measure children’s exposure to chemical lice treatments. The researchers collected baseline urine samples from 78 enrolled children between the ages of six to ten years of age. About one-third of those children were diagnosed with head lice and subsequently treated with at least one over-the-counter permethrin lice treatment, a prescription lindane treatment, or both. Within seven days of the insecticide application, urine samples were again collected. The permethrin exposed children had significantly higher urinary pryrethoid metabolite levels in their post-exposure urine samples. Lindane metabolites were also elevated in urine samples after treatment. Interestingly, the study states, “Exposed participants appeared to have higher pre-exposure metabolite levels — likely from multiple treatments before enrollment — than unexposed participants.” Pentachlorophenol, a metabolite of lindane, was significantly higher in the urine of those children who used a lice treatment regardless of whether it […]

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25
Sep

Hot Air Found More Effective Than Chemical Lice Treatments

(Beyond Pesticides, September 25, 2008) Pesticides used as lice treatments can not only have extremely harmful effects on children, they are also not as effective as non- chemical treatments such as utilizing directed hot air, according to researchers. Back-to-school season often coincides with lice outbreaks, and parents should be aware of the risks involved in using lice “shampoos” that contain pesticides and informed of the viability of non-toxic alternatives. Many of the recent headlines regarding lice in schools include reference to “super lice,” which are difficult to eliminate. These lice have developed resistance to the chemicals commonly used to treat them, such as lindane, malathion and permethrin, and therefore these treatments are increasingly ineffective. Insects frequently develop resistance to pesticides, a fact that emphasizes the importance of strategies both in agriculture and public health that focus on preventing pest outbreaks and dealing with outbreaks in ways that will not lead to resistance. One such method for eliminating head lice that will not lead to resistant strains of lice is the use of hot air, which desiccates the insects and eggs, thus killing them. Researchers testing six methods of hot air application found that hot air outperforms insecticidal shampoos in killing […]

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16
May

Michigan House Approves Restrictions on Lindane

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2008) Pressured by environmental organizations to protect children’s health and water quality in the Great Lakes, the Michigan House of Representatives has approved restrictions on the use of lindane, a toxic organochlorine pesticide used as a prescription drug to treat lice and scabies.  Under the legislation (HB 4569), the use of lindane  would be  prohibited except “under the supervision of a physician in his or her office if the physician considers the use of that product necessary for the treatment of a patient’s lice or scabies.” The Michigan Senate has not yet voted on the bill. Lindane has long been known for its neurotoxic properties, causing seizures, damage to the nervous system, and weakening of the immune system. It is also a probable carcinogen and endocrine disruptor. When used on people, lindane is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Despite the fact that it has been banned in 52 countries and restricted in over 30 more, FDA continues to allow its use in the U.S., albeit with a Public Health Advisory issued in 2003 that states, “Lindane should be used with caution in infants, children, the elderly, patients with skin conditions, and patients with […]

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10
Mar

Advocates Urge Prevention Despite New Pesticide for Head Lice

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2008) Head lice affect an estimated 12 million people in the U.S. each year, and are rapidly becoming resistant to over-the-counter and prescription medications. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have found that ivermectin, a compound produced by soil-dwelling bacteria, was 100 percent effective in killing head lice resistant to many standard treatments. Results were published in the January 2008 edition of the Journal of Medical Entomology. Although ivermectin is not well-absorbed through the skin, some public health advocates are concerned about its use on humans for lice and scabies. The National Pediculosis Association (NPA), a non profit agency, directs parents, health care professionals and child care providers to safer head lice control options via a standardized prevention approach focusing on routine screening, early detection and thorough combing and manual removal of lice and nits. NPA promotes this as a rational strategy over chasing lice with pesticides that offer more risk than benefit and have a well-documented history of lice resistance and failure.Most products used to treat head lice contain the insecticide pyrethrum, or its synthetic cousin permethrin, as the active ingredient. Over the past two decades, resistance to these chemicals has become a serious […]

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