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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Texas' Category


27
Feb

Poisoning Feral Hogs Raises Safety and Environmental Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2017)  Texas has been dealing with a feral hog issue for many years, however recently Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller approved the use of a toxic rodenticide in an effort to control feral hog populations, a decision hunters and trappers oppose because the pesticide will poison prey and wreak havoc on ecosystems where the hogs live. The estimated population of the feral hog population is about 1.5 million in the state of Texas, where they can cause extensive damage to property, crops, and native wildlife. Wild hogs have been considered to be one of the most destructive invasive species in the U.S. The feral hog population, close to six million, span 39 states and four Canadian provinces. Commissioner Miller, in announcing the widespread use of toxic pesticide referred to the problem as the “feral hog apocalypse.” Damage caused by wild hogs has been estimated to reach well into the millions. Smithsonian Magazine has reported the annual damage caused by feral hog populations to be around $400 million. The Texas Parks and Wildlife website states that hogs are opportunistic omnivores.  Feral hogs enjoy eating domestic agricultural crops, such as corn, soybeans, peanuts, potatoes, watermelons and cantaloupe. They can cause […]

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05
Jan

Texas Winemakers Concerned about Crop Damage from New Herbicides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2017) Winegrowers in the Texas High Plains region are concerned that approval of new herbicides by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will devastate their profitable industry due to chemical damage from pesticide drift. Wine producers in this region of Texas have witnessed chemical damage to their vineyards that they blame on the toxic herbicides, dicamba and 2,4-D, used on cereal crops and pastures on surrounding agricultural land. A new herbicide formulation containing dicamba, XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, was approved by EPA, and the agency has recently proposed to register and expand the use of Enlist Duo, a herbicide that contains 2,4-D. EPA’s final decision on registration of Enlist Duo is expected in early 2017. According to Paul Bonarrigo, owner of Messina Hof Winery in Texas, the “approval of these formulations will wind up affecting every vineyard up there.” This will have ramifications across Texas, as the wine industry contributed $1.88 billion to the state’s economy in 2013. Advocates say that the new herbicide formulations present unreasonable adverse risks to humans and the environment in addition to harming the livelihood of farmers. Following on these concerns, Garrett Irwin, owner of Cerro Santo vineyard, stated,“If we get […]

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14
Jul

Pesticide Manufacturer DuPont Labeled “Severe” Safety Violator by OSHA

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2015) Last November, a worker at a DuPont chemical plant in La Porte, Texas was overcome when a supply line released more than 20,000 lbs. of methyl mercaptan, a toxic chemical precursor for pesticides produced at the plant. Three co-workers rushed to attempt a rescue, but all four were fatally asphyxiated by the toxic gas, according to an investigation from the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Now, after a lengthy investigation, OSHA is placing DuPont on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program,  which focuses agency resources on inspecting employers who have “demonstrated indifference to their OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Act] obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.” Earlier this year, OSHA’s initial investigation into the La Porte plant incident resulted in eleven citations, a $99,000 fine, and a long list of safety upgrades required to be taken by the company. “Four people lost their lives and their families lost loved ones because DuPont did not have proper safety procedures in place,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, PhD, MPH. “Had the company assessed the dangers involved, or trained their employees on what to do if the ventilation system […]

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18
Nov

Leak at DuPont Chemical Plant Leads to Death of Four Workers

(Beyond Pesticides, November 18, 2014) Four workers died this past weekend when the valve on a container of methyl mercaptan, a compound used in the production of insecticides, fungicides, and plastics, malfunctioned at a La Porte, Texas chemical plant owned by DuPont. The chemical, which has a strong odor of rotten eggs, spread throughout the Houston metropolitan area, causing concern for people up to 40 miles away. This incident is the latest in a string of chemical disasters for DuPont and across the United States. A 2011 U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigation determined that “a series of preventable safety shortcomings” led to three accidents over a 33-hour period that resulted in the death of one worker from phosgene gas exposure at a DuPont plant in Belle, West Virginia. CSB, an independent federal agency tasked with investigating chemical accidents, has begun a probe into the recent incident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will conduct a separate investigation. In 2013, in the wake of an explosion at a chemical plant in West, Texas that claimed the lives of 15 people and injured hundreds more, President Obama signed an Executive Order entitled Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, in an […]

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24
Jul

EPA Denies Hazardous Pesticide Use on 3 Million Acres of Texas Cotton Fields

(Beyond Pesticides, July 24, 2014) Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied an emergency application to use a hazardous pesticide, propazine, on 3 million acres of Texas cotton fields, after groups representing environmental, public health, and organic farm interests urged the agency to reject the request based on environmental effects and the predictable nature of the weed resistance to currently used chemicals. Despite determining “that an urgent and non-routine condition exists for Texas growers” when certain weed-densities are reached, EPA’s primary reasons for denying the application focused on health and environmental concerns of the pesticide. As EPA explained, “When conducting human health risk assessment for new use the Agency must first consider the risk profile for currently registered uses and determine if an additional use can be added to the cup.” This aggregate risk assessment is required under the Food Quality Protection Actand in the case of propazine, EPA found that “drinking water estimates suggest that risks from drinking water alone may lead to unacceptable risks . . . .” “While we disagree with the EPA that this meets any of the criteria for emergency exemption, we applaud the EPA for putting the health of people and the […]

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27
Jun

Roundup Resistance Spurs Texas Push for Emergency Use of Controversial Herbicide on GE Cotton

(Beyond Pesticides,  June 27, 2014) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a  request  by Texas regulators to allow the use of a controversial herbicide, propazine, to battle Palmer amaranth, a glyphosate-resistant “super weed” that has been plaguing growers of genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-tolerant cotton in the state. Propazine, an active ingredient in Milo-Pro, would be sprayed on up to 3 million acres, which amounts to approximately half of the state’s estimated crop acreage for this season. As currently proposed, the maximum amount of product to be applied would be 70,314 gallons. The Texas Department of Agriculture, on behalf of  chemical-intensive GE cotton growers,  asked EPA last month for an exemption to permit growers to spray fields with the herbicide this summer in order to control this highly invasive plant, also known as pigweed. Pigweed can grow up to 3 inches a day and is one of many plant species that has developed a resistance to  glyphosate, a systemic herbicide found in Roundup that has become one of the most widely used pesticides on the market.  Public comments are due by July 3, 2014. The occurrence of super weeds coincides strongly with the use of toxic herbicides on genetically engineered […]

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14
Mar

EPA Funding Integrated Pest Management at Schools

(Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week  three grants to universities in Texas, Michigan, and Arizona to implement integrated pest management (IPM) practices, reigniting the debate on whether pesticide dependency in many, if not most, IPM systems is warranted given techniques that have eliminated  toxic pesticide use. Are these programs moving pest management in the right direction, as strong IPM measures offer the opportunity to eliminate the use of pesticides, or is the IPM systems unnecessarily using pesticides that can be replaced by  management practices that exclude pest entryways, adopt sanitation and cleaning practices to eliminate pest conducive conditions, and when necessary, as a last resort, use carefully defined least-toxic chemicals. One of the grants, awarded to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, will be utilized to develop a central, online source for materials  providing school districts with important information and tools to implement an IPM program. The project’s goal within the three year  grant  period  is to reach  one percent of schools  or 552,350 students of the estimated 49 million children attending U.S. public schools in 15,000 school districts. Another grant was awarded to University of Arizona, with the goal of developing and implementing […]

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06
Aug

President’s Chemical Plant Safety Order Could Offer Policy Options on Safer Alternatives

(Beyond Pesticides, August 6, 2013) On August 1, as President Obama signed an Executive Order, entitled Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security,  intended to improve chemical facility safety and security, a coalition of labor and environmental groups delivered a letter to newly appointed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, urging her to make chemical disaster prevention one of the priority initiatives   in her first 100 days in office. The letter and Executive Order come nearly  four months after an explosion at a chemical plant in West, Texas claimed the lives of 14 people and injured hundreds more. The letter from labor and environmental groups shows that there is broad support for the only fool-proof way to prevent chemical disasters, namely switching to safer chemical processes. In the letter, groups encourage the Obama Administration to follow through on the President’s 2008 campaign platform, where he promised to “secure our chemical plants by setting a clear set of federal regulations that all plants must follow, including improving barriers, containment, mitigation and safety training, and wherever possible, using safer technology, such as less toxic chemicals.” Groups argue that EPA already has the authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA). After the […]

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25
Jul

Pesticides in Air a Risk To Pregnant Women, Unborn Children

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2012) A Texas border study has found that air samples in the homes of pregnant Hispanic women contain multiple household pesticides that could harm fetuses and young children. The first study of its kind conducted by the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, finds traces of both household and agricultural pesticides that have been linked to disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The researchers sampled air in 25 households, finding at least five pesticides in 60 percent of the dwellings. Nine other pesticides were identified in less than one-third of the homes. All the women were in the third trimester of pregnancy, when the fetal brain undergoes a growth spurt. Numerous studies have reported birth defects and developmental problems when fetuses and infants are exposed to pesticides, especially exposures that adversely affect mental and motor development during infancy and childhood. This new report is in the summer issue of the Texas Public Health Journal sent to members this week. The study found 92 percent of air samples contained o-phenylphenol, which is used as a fungicide, germicide and household disinfectant, while 80 percent of samples contained chlorpyrifos, […]

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19
Apr

University of Texas Students Vote to Ban Triclosan on Campus

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2012) The University of Texas (UT) Student Government body unanimously passed a resolution last month to ban soap containing the toxic antibacterial chemical triclosan throughout campus. If the ban is accepted by the University administration, UT would be the first university in the country to take an official stance against one of the most prevalent and dangerous antibacterial products available. Triclosan, which can be found in many personal care products, has been linked to numerous human and environmental health effects. Recently the Canadian government declared triclosan as an environmental toxin, proposing regulations to restrict its use. Student Government (SG) representative and public affairs graduate student Robert Love, who initiated the ban, says that officials in several different campus purchasing departments are open to phasing out antibacterial soap. For financial and environmental reasons, the University phased out the use of the triclosan-containing soap in restrooms across campus in 2008; however, it is still being used in other places on campus. According to a university spokeswoman, a campus-wide phase out would require an official decision. “What we’re saying is we need an outright ban on campus, and we need to kind of make a bold statement,” said urban […]

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17
Oct

Pyrethroids Ubiquitous in California’s Urban Streams

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2008) A study published in the September 15 issue of Environmental Science & Technology has found pyrethroid contamination in 100 percent of urban streams sampled. Synthetic Pyrethroids are one of the most widely used consumer pesticides, but recently they have been scrutinized for their resultant health and environmental effects. California is currently reevaluating certain pyrethroid-containing pesticides as a result of increasingly conclusive research. Entitled “Statewide Investigation of the Role of Pyrethroid Pesticides in Sediment Toxicity in California’s Urban Waterways,” the research included California’s most urbanized regions, as well as the less developed North Coast and Lake Tahoe areas. Thirty creeks in eight regions were selected from 90 screened sites, and bioassays were conducted at two temperatures, 23 and 15 degrees Celsius. Researchers found 25 samples to be toxic at the higher temperature and all 30 at the lower, which is where pyrethroids are more toxic. “Bifenthrin was the pyrethroid of greatest toxicological concern, occurring in all 30 samples,” wrote the team, and the Los Angeles, Central Valley, and San Diego regions showed the most severe contamination. The sampling included analysis for 8 pyrethroids, 30 organochlorine pesticides, and piperonyl butoxide, which helps to make pyrethroids toxic at […]

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19
Sep

More Research Links Pesticides to Parkinson’s Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, September 19, 2008) Adding to the body of epidemiologic evidence linking pesticides to Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a recent study shows a correlation between 100 PD patients and the use of the pesticide rotenone. The study was conducted by physicians and researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UTHSCT) and an East Texas Medical Center physician.The study’s lead author is Aman Dhillon, MD, MS, assistant professor of occupational and environmental medicine at UTHSCT. Rotenone is highly toxic to fish and insects, but mildly toxic to warm-blooded animals and humans. It is made from the roots of tropical plants and is used in home gardens and in fisheries management to remove unwanted fish species, said Jeffrey Levin, MD, MSPH, chair of UTHSCT’s Department of Occupational Health Sciences. Dr. Levin is a co-author of the study, published recently in the peer-reviewed Journal of Agromedicine. A total of 184 people participated in the study: 100 had Parkinson’s disease and 84 did not, though they had other neurological disorders. All were patients of George M. Plotkin, MD, Ph.D., a neurologist with a special interest in Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Plotkin, medical director of the ETMC Movement Disorder Center, treats about […]

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