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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Massachusetts' Category


09
Feb

Health Canada Will Begin Pesticide Testing of Cannabis After Recalls and Consumer Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2017) The failure of the U.S. pesticide regulatory system to protect marijuana users was highlighted as Health Canada announced Tuesday that it would begin conducting random pesticide residue testing of marijuana products to ensure that only registered products are being used in medical marijuana production. This comes on the heels of voluntary recalls in 2016 by two licensed Canadian cannabis producers due to the presence of the prohibited pesticides bifenazate, myclobutanil, and pyrethrins in or on marijuana products. Especially concerning is the detection of myclobutanil, a powerful fungicide that, when heated, converts to the hazardous gas hydrogen cyanide. The detection of these toxic chemicals in medical marijuana products is distressing since many users have compromised immune systems or health conditions that make them more susceptible to toxic chemicals. Moves by several states in the U.S. to curb illegal pesticide use in marijuana contain significant pitfalls and loopholes that allow contaminated cannabis to enter the market, where it threatens public health. Without examination of residues in inhaled, ingested, or absorbed cannabis, the user’s health is not protected by pesticide registration addressing other uses. In addition, environmental impacts associated with growing practices are generally ignored. On January 9th, […]

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26
Oct

Massachusetts Attorney General Stops Deceptive Safety Claims about Bee-Toxic Pesticides, Beyond Pesticides Urges Other States to Follow

(Washington, D.C. October 26, 2016)  With the Massachusetts Attorney General forcing Bayer CropScience to end its statewide advertising containing deceptive safety claims about bee-toxic pesticides, Beyond Pesticides yesterday asked the other 49 states to do the same. In a letter to State Attorneys General, Beyond Pesticides said, “With neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides linked to the increase in pollinator decline, we are writing to urge you, on behalf of our members in your state, to stop misleading and fraudulent advertising of these pesticide products.” Beyond Pesticides continues, “We make this request following the settlement reached by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy with Bayer CropScience, announced today, that ends the company’s deceptive advertising practices on their neonicotinoid-containing lawn and garden products.” Bayer agreed to change its advertising practices, so that the neonic-containing lawn and garden products are no longer misrepresented by false safety claims. This landmark settlement, filed under the state’s Consumer Protection Act, is believed to be the first time any major pesticide company has agreed to a court order to address alleged false advertising regarding risks posed by neonic products to honey and native bees, and other pollinator species.  The lawn and garden products subject to the settlement, which include Bayer […]

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20
Feb

Town Asks MA Supreme Court to Affirm Right to Stop Private Pesticide Use in Sensitive Pond

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2014) The town of Chilmark located on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts is not backing down from its decision to challenge property owners and the local conservation commission’s attempts to introduce a toxic herbicide directly into the waters of the only enclosed, great pond of the well-known, destination island. While one might assume that the litigation centers around whether or not the herbicide proposed for use in the local water source poses as a danger, this issue is only a sideline debate. Instead, the central dispute highlights one of the greatest challenges facing local governments surrounding pesticide control and a locality’s authority to protect both its citizens and its local environment from the hazards that these chemicals bestow: preemption. Preemption is the ability of one level of government to override laws of a lower level. While local governments once had the ability to restrict the use of pesticides on all land within their jurisdictions, pressure from the chemical industry led many states to pass legislation that prohibits municipalities from adopting local pesticide ordinances affecting the use of pesticides on private property that are more restrictive than state policy. Unfortunately, Massachusetts is one of the many states that has […]

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22
Aug

Utility Plans to Spray Rights-of-Way Despite Local Opposition

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2013) After four years of relying on non-toxic mechanical controls to clear weeds on rights-of-way across Cape Cod, the Massachusetts-based power company NStar announced that it will begin using herbicides again this fall. All 15 Cape Cod towns have signed a no-spray resolution in 2011 and 2013, requesting NStar to use non-chemical means to defoliate transmission line easements, citing concerns for pesticide drift into the ground and surface water. Yet, despite extensive local opposition to the spraying, and evidence of the efficacy of organic land management to control weeds, NStar has refused to seriously consider alternative methods to spraying toxic herbicides. Many of the targeted spray areas where power lines are located are in close proximity to homes with private wells, in areas that drain into public water supplies, and adjacent to bike and walking paths. The pesticides can persist in the soil and be tracked into homes, or enter the surface or ground water where drinking water is sourced. Nearby residents can be exposed to drift, which can cause numerous adverse health effects. Following the announcement, there is a 45-day comment period (which commenced August 7) overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), […]

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09
Jan

Lower Asthma Rates in Boston Attributed to IPM in Public Housing

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2013) Boston health officials say new city data indicate that asthma incidences have dropped nearly by half since 2005. This is attributed to Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and Boston Public Health Commission implementation of an integrated pest management  (IPM)  program in low-income housing to reduce the number of cockroaches and rodents, while reducing the use of pesticides, which, along with cockroach and rodent droppings, can aggravate asthma symptoms. The data, covering 2006 through 2010, show the rate of adults who reported having asthma symptoms in the authority’s units dropped from 23.6 percent in 2006 to 13 percent in 2010, the latest year available. At the same time, asthma rates in other low-income housing in Boston, not run by BHA, remained relatively unchanged. Public health analysts studied data from a biennial telephone survey of Boston adults between 2006 and 2010. The survey asks residents a wide range of questions, and analysts compared the answers from roughly 300 housing authority residents to others not living in city-run housing. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, health authorities found extremely high infestations of roaches and rodents in BHA buildings, and equally concerning, housing leaders were seeing desperate residents resorting […]

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14
Sep

Massachusetts Fails to Support Claim that Aerial Spraying Suppresses Insect-Borne Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2012) The State of Massachusetts has been unable to produce the records backing up its claim that the biggest aerial spraying of pesticides in Commonwealth history this July significantly reduced mosquito-borne disease risks, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Further, the state has no proof aerial spraying is an effective safeguard against Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). In a July 31 press release, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that “aerial spraying the weekend of July 20-22 reduced the mosquito population by approximately 60 percent within the 21-community spray zone in Southeastern Massachusetts.” DPH Commissioner John Auerbach was quoted as crediting aerial spraying for causing “a significant reduction in the volume of mosquitoes.” Immediately following that release, New England PEER Director Kyla Bennett submitted a public records request for the materials supporting these claims. More than a month later, DPH has still been unable to produce any records on which it based its press release. The matter is on appeal before the Secretary of State, the last administrative hurdle PEER needs to jump over in order to sue DPH to force the production of records. PEER points out that agencies conducting aerial spraying […]

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14
Aug

School District in MA Found Not in Compliance with State IPM Law

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2012) Officials have recently discovered that the Northhampton School district in Massachusetts has been applying an herbicide on the school grounds that is not listed on any of the schools’ integrated pest management (IPM) plans. The herbicide Lesco (active ingredient glyphosate) has been applied up to five times a year at a single school, but typically areas were treated once a year at each school. When questioned, Northampton’s director of custodial services, Michael Diemand, said that since the product, Lesco Prosecutor, can be bought by anyone at stores, it did not need to be on the plans; however this is not what the law states. Under a 2000 state Act Protecting Children and Families from Harmful Pesticides, schools and child care centers are required to submit plans detailing the pest problem that exists at their facilities, the pesticides that they plan to apply, and who will apply the pesticides — even if they are not planning to use pesticides at the current time. The law also requires them to notify parents and employees at least two days before any pesticides are applied at these facilities. Pesticide use is prohibited when children present. Outdoor, pesticides that are […]

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05
Apr

Cape Cod Communities Moving Toward Organic Land Management

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2012) A number of communities on Cape Cod, Massachusetts have begun to adopt or explore organic turf management practices for municipal parks and athletic fields. The towns of Wellfleet, Eastham, Barnstable, Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, and Harwich have all made moves toward adopting policies or informal practices that seek to limit the application of toxic pesticides on town-owned property and opt instead for organic methods of pest management. Furthest along in the effort is Wellfleet, which last month officially adopted the Cape’s first codified organic turf management policy. The policy bans all pesticides and chemical fertilizers on town parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields, while allowing for some exceptions such as rodent bait traps, according to the Cape Cod Times. Wellfleet’s Board of Selectmen, which unanimously adopted the policy on March 13th, were concerned about the possibility of lawn chemicals leading to environmental contamination and presenting serious risks to people and wildlife. Eastham, just to the south of Wellfleet, is working on passing its own bylaw outlining a set of organic turf management practices to restrict pesticides throughout the town. The town of Barnstable has also begun to explore how it might go about implementing an organic turf […]

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22
Dec

Go Organic with Upcoming Accreditation Courses in Organic Land Care

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2011) For the tenth consecutive year, the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Organic Land Care Program (NOFA OLC) is hosting an accreditation course in organic land care in three different locations around the New England area starting January 9, 2012. Attendees will learn the how to design and maintain ecological landscapes without the use of toxic pesticides. The course is for any land care professional, including school grounds or municipal employees, conservation property managers, master gardeners, entrepreneurs or landscape enthusiast to learn the ecology of residential yards or municipal and school grounds and to learn how to care for these spaces using sustainable and safe products and methods. Over 1,200 students from 22 different states have taken the course, and there are currently about 550 Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals (AOLCPs) bringing this expertise to their jobs as landscapers, groundskeepers, conservationists, planners, garden center employees, and a number of other fields. Students of the accreditation course come away with a practical understanding of landscape ecology and organic methods. Frank Crandall, owner of Frank Crandall Horticultural Solutions in Rhode Island, described the course as “the best educational course I have ever taken . . . I immediately made […]

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16
Sep

Initiative Improves Pest Management in Boston’s Public Housing

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2008) Responding to grassroots pressure highlighting the impact of pests and pesticides on public health, the Boston Public Housing Authority (BHA) is promoting integrated pest management (IPM) through its Healthy Pest Free Housing Initiative Project (HPFHI) in the city’s public housing facilities. The program, which was launched after the Committee for Boston Public Housing, a tenant rights group, began looking into the connection between respiratory health, asthma and housing conditions in 1995, is now proving successful. “The project’s goal is to provide intensive in-home and community-based education designed to change individual and community practices regarding pest control and the use of pesticides,” explains John Kane, IPM coordinator and planner for the Boston Housing Authority (BHA). Mr. Kane says that there has been up to a 75 percent reduction in work orders dealing with pests and a huge increase in the quality of life for the residents. Over 1,000 BHA households in eight developments have received in-home and community-based support and education to encourage integrated pest management practices that focus on prevention and use “least toxic” pesticides only as a last resort. BHA hopes to make the project sustainable and expand their efforts into additional developments. “People […]

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29
May

Organochlorine Pesticide Linked to Behavioral Deficit in Infants

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2008) A study published in the May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives shows a link between prenatal exposure to the pesticide DDT and poor attention-related skills in early infancy. This study follows in a long line of recent studies associated with the negative health effects of DDT including: diabetes; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; breast cancer; and autism. Despite the fact that DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972, concentrations of this toxic chemical’s major metabolite, DDE, have remained alarmingly high in many ecosystems, including the waters of Los Angeles County, the arctic, and even U.S. national parks. All studies documenting the health effects of DDT and chemicals in the same family, organochlorines, are particularly important not just for understanding the lingering effects of DDT from days past, but because many countries continue to employ DDT as a method in controlling mosquitoes that transmit malaria, despite its toxicity, weakening efficacy, and availability of safer alternatives. Other organochlorines are still registered for use in the U.S.The study looked at 788 mother-infant pairs who met several criteria, which included living in a town adjacent to a Superfund site in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a location with known organochlorine contamination. Cord blood […]

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25
Sep

Boston Red Sox Team Up With NRDC to Green Fenway Park

(Beyond Pesticides, September 25, 2007) The Boston Red Sox announced on September 20, 2007 that the club will begin a partnership with the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to make Fenway Park “green” through a series of initiatives to improve the environment, including the introduction of locally-grown organic food by its concessionaire. Over the next several years, fans may find themselves drinking beer out of plastic cups made with corn starch, snacking on organic produce, and participating in a “fifth inning recycling stretch.” “Fenway Park is one of America’s most beloved buildings,” said Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at the NRDC and coordinator of the organization’s greening initiatives. “The tangible and important ecological steps that the Red Sox and their team sponsors are advancing will have a lasting impact. By committing to the greening of this historic building, the Red Sox organization is showing leadership that reaches far beyond the game of baseball. The Red Sox are demonstrating that every organization can make a difference by joining in our collective efforts to combat global warming, bio-diversity loss, and other ecological ills. “ Giving a second meaning to the “Green Monster” (the ballpark’s well-known left field wall), efforts to make […]

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11
Sep

MA Schools, Daycares Not Complying with State Pesticide Law

(Beyond Pesticides, September 11, 2007) In August 2007, Massachusetts State Auditor Joe DeNucci announced that while some progress has been made, 649 (24 percent) of the Commonwealth’s public and private schools and 1,881 (59 percent) of its day care centers are still not in compliance with the Children’s Protection Act of 2000, which requires them to submit a plan on pesticide use at their facilities. The state notes improvement over its 2003 audit, which found 71 percent of schools and 90 percent of day care centers had not complied with this legislation that is intended to protect children from unnecessary exposure to pesticides. But nearly eight years after the bill was passed, environmentalists and public health advocates expect more. “The law was passed in 2000 and we ought to be at or near full compliance by now,” Frank Gorke, director of Environment Massachusetts told the Marblehead Reporter. “I’d say we obviously need to step up enforcement and we probably need to increase resources.” The law requires schools and child care centers to submit plans detailing the pest problem that exists at their facilities, the pesticides that they plan to apply, and who will apply the pesticides — even if they […]

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20
Aug

Massachusetts Coalition Fights To End Roadside Herbicide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2007) Environmental groups launched a public campaign last Wednesday to urge state officials to stop applying toxic herbicides for vegetation control along state roadways. Members of the Massachusetts Coalition for Pesticide Reduction maintain that herbicides, which the state resumed using in 2003, are harmful to people and the environment. Sylvia Broude, community organizer for Toxics Action Center, said toxic chemicals such as the ones the Highway Department uses can harm more than just the intended target. The chemicals can run off highways, pollute drinking water and eventually lead to health problems in humans, ranging from eye problems and learning disabilities to some forms of cancer, she said. The group is asking the state to use organic herbicides or manual means, such as weed whackers or lawnmowers, which the state used exclusively in the early 2000s. But state officials say affected areas are in small, controlled environments. The Highway Department says that it removes unwanted bushes and weeds manually or mechanically on the vast majority of the 48,200 acres it maintains but needs the herbicides for about 188 acres, less than half of 1 percent of the total. Spokesman John Lamontagne said removing weeds mechanically in some […]

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10
Jul

Organic Land Care Takes Over Town

(Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2007) Beyond Pesticides came together last year with the Northeast Organic Farmers Association, Ecological Landscape Association and the New England town of Townsend, Massachusetts, to raise awareness about organic lawn care, which has now led to the implementation of an organic program for all municipal lawn areas. This program will facilitate the use of organic fertilizers and methods on lawn and landscaped areas at the Townsend Town Hall, library and town commons. After a successful open presentation to the citizens of the town on the benefits of organic land care, Townsend public officials are now moving forward to improve their local environment by allowing Yard Spice Organics, LLC to implement a program of organic lawn care for the town’s common areas. This action came after officials expressed the desire last March to maintain organic lawns throughout the town. Yard Spice Organics, along with supplier, Bradfield Organics, LLC, will be donating their services and products to the town during the first year of service. The town of Townsend is not alone in its quest for safe and healthy lawns. The growing demand for organic land care is coming from all sectors: homeowners, municipal park managers, and business […]

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14
Jun

Toxic Chemical Ban Proposed in Massachusetts

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2007) State legislators in Massachusetts are working on a bill that would phase out the use of 10 toxic chemicals, create a system to study toxics and find safer alternatives. Many state, health, labor and environmental officials have long supported this bill, which attempts to remove many toxic components from products used in everyday materials. Chemicals like those used in pesticides, wood and those found in children’s products, are especially targeted in the Safer Alternatives Bill (H. 783 / S. 558). Organophosphates, a toxic class of pesticides developed circa World War II, have been targeted in the phase out. Commonly used against mosquitoes, organophosphates like malathion (Fyfanon), naled (Dibrom) and chlorpyrifos (Mosquitomist) have been shown to be dangerous, especially to vulnerable populations, and affect the central nervous, cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The other chemicals slated for phase out have all been linked to environmental and health concerns as well and include perchloroethylene, dioxins and furans, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, di (2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and lead. If passed by the Legislature, the State Department of Environmental Protection will be charged with the task of setting timelines to phase out the chemicals after […]

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