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Rusty Patch Bumblebee Officially Listed as an Endangered Species

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2017) Yesterday marked a monumental event in the fight against pollinator declines, as the rusty patched bumblebee became the first bee species to officially be declared endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). According to FWS, endangered species designations are made when a species is “in danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a portion of their range.” Tom Melius, Service Midwest Regional Director for FWS, stated in a press release that, when it comes to this determination, “[FWS’s] top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumble bee. Listing the bee as endangered will help [the agency] mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.” Listed yesterday in the Federal Register, the ruling will go into effect February 10, 2017. This is a victory for environmental groups who have fought to protect the rusty patched bumble bee from widespread threats, such as habitat loss and pesticide use. According to FWS, the rusty patched bumble bee was once widespread across the United States and parts of Canada, but declined dramatically in the 1990s.  Since then, their populations have dwindled and their overall decline is estimated at 91 […]

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Endangered Species Status Proposed for Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2016) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed listing the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This is a victory for environmental groups who have fought to protect the rusty patched bumble bee from widespread threats such as habitat loss and pesticide use. The FWS proposal opens a 60-day public comment to allow agencies, groups and interested people to comment and provide new information. The public comment period is open through November 21, 2016. You can submit comments soon by visiting the docket, here. According to FWS, the rusty patched bumble bee was once widespread across the United States and parts of Canada, but declined dramatically in the 1990s. Their populations dwindled and have declined by 91 percent. FWS acknowledged  that the bumble bee populations considered for this proposal have not been reconfirmed since the early 2000s, meaning that currently there may be even less of the species left. Threats to the rusty patched bumble bee include diseases introduced by commercial bumble bees that are not free of pathogens and are released near wild populations. Climate change plays a part, along with habitat loss from industrial […]

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Study Finds Neonicotinoids Cause Compound-Specific Harm to Bumblebees

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2016) A study published online last week has examined the effects of three neonicotinoids (neonics) on bumblebee colonies, from live bee kills to changed sex ratios. Neonics have been widely cited as contributing to  the demise of both managed and wild bee and pollinator populations. They can cause  changes in bee reproduction, navigation, foraging, and even the suppression of bee immune systems. The study, published in Scientific Reports, looked at field-relevant levels (2.5 parts per billion) of imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin, and found compound-specific effects at all levels, including within individual bee cells, individual bees, and whole colonies in semi-field conditions. Given the limitations of laboratory studies and field studies, researchers conducted a semi-field study to try to recreate and represent real world exposure patterns. The neonics were provided to the bees as an optional supply of sugar syrup, but were free to forage and did need to gather pollen in order to grow and raise offspring. Researchers found that imidacloprid and clothianidin displayed abilities to affect neuronal Kenyon cells, which help with learning, memory and multisensory integration. At the whole colony level, thiamethoxam altered the sex ratio, leaving more males than females. Both imidacloprid and […]

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Research Finds Bees Prefer Foods Treated with Bee-Killing Insecticides

Friday, April 24th, 2015

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2015) Two new studies reporting on the adverse effects of neonicotinoids on bees were published Wednesday in the journal Nature, adding to a growing body of scientific literature linking the controversial class of pesticides to the global decline in bee populations. The conclusions reached by the two studies find that not only does neonicotinoid exposure result in reduced bee density, nesting, colony growth, and reproduction, but also that bees in fact prefer foods containing neonicotinoid pesticides despite their adverse effects. Neonicotinoids affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and eventual death. These pesticides have consistently been implicated as a key issue in pollinator declines, not only through immediate bee deaths, but also through sublethal exposure that causes  changes in bee reproduction, navigation, and foraging. The science has become increasingly clear that pesticides, either working individually or synergistically, play a critical role in the ongoing decline of honey bees. Pesticide exposure can impair both detoxification mechanisms and immune responses, rendering bees more susceptible to viruses, parasites, and other diseases, and leading to devastating bee losses. In one study, “Seed coating with a neonicotinoid insecticide negatively affects wild bees,” Swedish scientists report that wild bees […]

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Behavioral and Emotional Problems in Children Linked to Insecticide Exposure

Friday, November 1st, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2013) Insecticides commonly used in homes and schools are associated with behavioral problems in children, according to a recent study by Canadian researchers. The study investigates exposure to pyrethroid pesticides, used in more than 3,500 products, including flea and tick controls, cockroach sprays, and head lice controls. The study, Urinary metabolites of organophosphates and pyrethroid pesticides and behavioral problems in Canadian children, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, raises serious concerns about the impact of pyrethroids, which are increasingly used as a replacement for organophosphates. This study uses data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (2007-2009), a nationally representative survey, so researchers are able to apply these findings to the entire population of Canadian children. In a previous study among U.S. children, researchers at the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) examined the metabolites of pyrethroids in children below the age of six. Similarly, they found pyrethroid insecticides in more than 70 percent of the samples, concluding that children had significantly higher metabolite concentrations than those of adolescents. Together these studies demonstrate that exposure is widespread, with real impacts to human health. In the recent study, researchers analyzed organophosphate and pyrethroid metabolites in the […]

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Elevated Pesticide Exposure Documented in New York City Residents

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2013) According to new research, residents are more highly exposed to organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides in New York City (NYC) than in the U.S. overall.  Researchers from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reviewed the 2004 NYC Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NYC HANES) to compare its pesticide exposure patterns in an urban environment with the nation as a whole. The NYC HANES includes a biomonitoring component to evaluate pesticide exposures by measuring concentrations of organophosphate and pyrethroid metabolites in urine. According to the authors, the findings underscore the importance of considering pest and pesticide burdens on cities, where a dense population results in a single exposure source affecting many people at the same time when regulating pesticide use. Organophosphate metabolites were measured in the urine of 882 New Yorkers, while 1,452 residents were tested for pyrethroid metabolites. As the researchers explain, the building density and disrepair in parts of NYC likely increased the chances of a pest infestation, which in turn can lead to the reliance on indoor pesticide use. By the 1980’s, organophosphates were the most common class of insecticides in the U.S., and were used indoors until the early 2000’s when […]

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Another Study Finds Rootworms Resistant to Genetically Engineered Corn

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2013) For the past several years, corn rootworms  have  been widely reported to exhibit resistance  to corn genetically engineered (GE) with the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin. A  new report by  University of Illinois researchers found the resistant corn rootworm  in two of the state’s counties significantly damaged by western corn rootworm. The increasing lack of efficacy of GE corn, developed with the claim that it  is specifically designed to protect corn from rootworm, calls into question the efforts of agrichemical companies to patent new forms of GE crops. The report by Joe Spencer, PhD, and Michael Gray, PhD,  identifies significant damage from western corn rootworms in farm field that were planted with GE corn that contain a Bt protein referred to as “Cry3Bb1,” which has been inserted into nearly one-third of the corn planted in the United States. This version of Bt corn was introduced by Monsanto in 2003, and was touted as a way to reduce insecticide use against rootworm pests. Evidence was gathered in two Illinois counties, Livingston and Kankakee, after fields that had severe root pruning and lodging were brought to the attention of Drs. Spencer and Gray. Dr. Gray was quoted in […]

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Bed Bugs Display Multiple Layers of Resistance to Pesticides

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2013) Scientists are learning more about the mechanisms bed bugs have developed to increase their resistance to the increasingly common class of pyrethriod pesticides. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports in early March, adds further weight to calls from consumer health and environmental groups to adopt proven, non-toxic strategies to manage bed bugs and other household pest problems. After all, if alternatives exist, why put your family at risk with unsustainable, ineffective control methods? This latest research reveals something scientists had not suspected. Bed bugs are developing most of their resistance-associated genes on the outer layer of their shell. These genes either neutralize the insecticides before they can take effect, or slow down the toxins’ move towards the insects’ nerve cells. In addition, bed bugs in the study also show resistance developing within their nerve cells, the target site for the pesticides. This multilayered resistance is unique, scientists say, but, as Beyond Pesticides has long documented, pest resistance to pesticides is not. A 2011 study from Ohio State University reveals bed bugs’ ability to evolve hereditary changes in their production of certain enzymes, allowing them to excrete the toxins without being harmed. A study […]

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Yet Again, Researchers Prove Bed Bugs Resistant to Common Pesticides

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, June 7th, 2012) A new study confirms several other recent study findings on the inability of commonly used pyrethroid based pesticide products to control bed bug infestations. The results reinforce the voices of concerned citizens and environmental groups calling for a wider adoption of proven, non-toxic methods to manage bed bugs and other household pest problems. The study, entitled “Ineffectiveness of Over-the-Counter Total-Release Foggers Against the Bed Bug,“ was published in the June issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology. Researchers from Ohio State University focused on the efficacy of three over-the-counter ”˜foggers,’ or ”˜bug bombs,’ including Hotshot Bedbug and Flea Fogger, Spectracide Bug Stop Indoor Fogger, and Eliminator Indoor Fogger. Results from the study reveal that bed bugs are not affected by direct exposure to the pyrethriods present in these products. Even long-term laboratory populations of bed bugs, known to be susceptible to pyrethroids, were unaffected by the pesticide when given a thin cloth as cover. This means that even if the current strain of bed bugs in the U.S. were not resistant to pyrethriods, the chemical still would not be an effective method of control because of bed bugs’ propensity to hide in small cracks and […]

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Take Action: EPA Proposes Expansion of Neurotoxic Pyrethroid Uses

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, January 31, 2012) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed an expansion in pyrethrins/pyrethroid insecticide uses as part of its cumulative risk assessment for this neurotoxic class of chemicals. In the cumulative risk assessment, EPA concludes that pyrethroids “do not pose risk concerns for children or adults,” ignoring a wealth of independent data that links this class of chemicals to certain cancers, respiratory and reproductive problems, and the onset of insect resistance. It went as far as to state that its cumulative assessment supports consideration of registering additional new uses of these pesticides, potentially opening the flood gates for manufacturers to bombard the market with more pyrethroid pesticides, endangering the health of the public. The agency is accepting public comments through February 8, 2012. Tell EPA that it has ignored numerous health effects and that these pesticides do pose unacceptable risks to human health given the availability of alternatives. Submit comments directly to the EPA docket or sign-on to Beyond Pesticides’ comments. In its comments to EPA, Beyond Pesticides states: There are several major concerns and flaws plaguing this cumulative assessment, which therefore does not meet the regulatory burden in fully evaluating synthetic pyrethroids’ effect on public and […]

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EPA Releases Pyrethroid Risk Assessment, Ignores Numerous Health Effects

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2011) On November 9, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its cumulative risk assessment for the pyrethroid class of insecticides, concluding that these pesticides “do not pose risk concerns for children or adults,” ignoring a wealth of independent data that links this class of chemicals to certain cancers, respiratory and reproductive problems, and the onset of insect resistance. The agency went as far to state that its cumulative assessment supports consideration of registering additional new uses of these pesticides, potentially opening the flood gates for manufacturers to bombard the market with more pyrethroid pesticides, endangering the health of the public. EPA issued the final pyrethins/pyrethroid cumulative risk assessment in the Federal Register and is requesting comment until January 9, 2011, including information that may be used to further refine the assessment. Pyrethroids are a widely used class of insecticides used for mosquito control and various insects in residential and agricultural settings. However pyrethroids are highly neurotoxic and have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, suppression of the immune system, and various reproductive effects. This class of chemicals includes permethrin, bifenthrin, resmethrin, cyfluthrin and scores of others. Read Beyond Pesticides’ factsheet “Syntethic Pyrethroids.” Once the […]

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Research Shows Commonly Used Pesticides Produce Greater Toxic Effect When Mixed

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2011) A combination of eleven different kinds of commonly used pyrethroids were tested on mice in a new study which found that, at real-world exposure levels, the insecticides can produce heightened toxicity that is equal to the sum of each insecticide’s individual effect. The mixture of similar-acting insecticides works by over-stimulating electronic channels in the mouse’s brain cells and eventually causing death. This study adds to the growing body of research on the toxicity of pesticide combinations in nature and showcases the need for policy change because the current risk assessment approach to regulating pesticides fails to look at chemical mixtures and synergistic effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently regulates on a chemical-by-chemical basis, but as this study demonstrates, interacting chemicals can have synergistic effects at very low levels, where a “chemical cocktail” of multiple interacting chemicals combine to have greater effects than expected. Pesticides can also have a cumulative “toxic loading” effect both in the immediate and long term. Researchers exposed mice brain cells to eleven different food-use pyrethroid insecticides either singly or in a mixture in the study entitled ”Additivity of pyrethroid actions on sodium influx in cerebrocortical neurons in primary culture.” […]

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California to Spray Toxic Pesticides for Japanese Beetles

Monday, August 1st, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, August 1, 2011) After sighting three Japanese beetles in the vicinity of Greenback Lane and Fair Oaks Boulevard in Sacramento County, California, state officials are scheduled to spray pesticides linked to cancer, reproductive and neurological effects. On August 2, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is scheduled to begin ground applications of carbaryl on fruit-bearing trees, and cyfluthrin on non-fruit-bearing trees and landscape plants in attempts to stave of attacks from the voracious Japanese beetle. Japanese beetles, a threat to turf grass as well as ornamental plants such as roses and cut flowers, have been detected in the Fair Oaks area, state officials said, but the ”˜infestation’ appears to be localized. To keep the ”˜infestation’ from spreading countywide, Juli Jensen, Acting Agricultural Commissioner, is urging residents in the area not to move plants or plant parts. The initial treatments will be directed at adult beetles and begins August 2 with applications of carbaryl on fruit-bearing trees, and cyfluthrin on non-fruit-bearing trees and landscape plants. Two weeks later, a second treatment will be applied and augmented by a granular imidacloprid to target grubs. The applications, to occur on approximately 100 properties, will be carried out by the […]

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Nonpersistent Pesticides Found in Umbilical Cord Blood

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2010) Researchers have found detectable levels of common household pesticides in the majority of umbilical cord blood of babies born at an urban hospital. The study looks at concentrations of organophosphate (OP), carbamate, pyrethroids, and organochlorine pesticides in samples of umbilical cord blood taken from newborns delivered at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Labor and Delivery Suite in Baltimore. Researchers looked at the umbilical cord serum, as opposed to maternal serum, in order to provide a more direct estimate of exposure to the fetus. While human biomonitoring studies have found detectable levels of these pesticide chemicals in urine and blood samples from children and adults in the past, few studies have been carried out in the U.S. evaluating exposure in utero. In addition to tracking pesticide concentrations, researchers also aimed to identify demographic and socioeconomics factors associated with in utero pesticide exposure. Anonymous anthropometric and sociodemographic characteristics of the mothers and infants were collected along with umbilical cord blood that would have otherwise been discarded. Included in the characteristics collected that researchers considered might affect pesticide exposure risk were: age, race, body mass index, parity, education, health insurance, marital status, smoking, area of residence and housing density. […]

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Ohio Asks EPA to Allow Unregistered Pesticide Use for Bedbugs

Friday, November 13th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2009) The Ohio Department of Agriculture is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow an unregistered use of the neurotoxic and cancer causing insecticide propoxur in homes to fight bedbugs in what state officials are describing as an ”˜emergency’ situation. The chemical, o-isopropoxyphenyl methylcarbamate, is in the carbamate family and classified as a probable human carcinogen (Group B2) by EPA, and listed as a known human carcinogen by the state of California. Though EPA allows emergency exemptions for unregistered pesticide uses in agriculture and for public health reasons under a controversial waiver program (Section 18, Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, 40 CFR Part 166), it rarely issues such an exemption for an indoor pesticide use. Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati are all experiencing a surge of bed bug infestations. According to Richard Pollack, a Harvard University public health entomologist, this is probably due to the fact that bedbugs are becoming resistant to many pesticide products that are used today. The use of broad spectrum insecticides, which kill common household insects such as cockroaches, ants and other insects including bed bugs, has resulted in insect resistance to these chemicals. Many of the chemicals used against […]

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Urban Insecticide Use Linked to Decline of Delta Ecosystem

Friday, July 17th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2009) High levels of pyrethroid pesticides in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the number one river system on America’s Most Endangered Rivers List of 2009, has been linked to heavy urbanization in the region. Leading a study to understand the collapse of the delta’s ecosystem, University of California-Berkeley toxicologist Donald Weston, Ph.D. found that these pesticides most likely reached the river from urban storm drains, collecting household pesticide disposal and runoff from lawns of 1.4 million residents in the Sacramento region. Five years ago, a study by Dr. Weston and his colleague Michael J. Lydy, Ph.D of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale found that synthetic phyrethroids were collecting in river and creek sediments at levels that are toxic to bottom dwelling fish. Current research holds that there are enough pyrethroids to kill tiny shrimp, which are said to be the first link in the aquatic food chain. Pyrethroids are synthetic versions of pyrethrin, a natural insecticide found in certain species of chrysanthemum. It initially came on the market as a ”˜safer’ alternative to the heavily regulated and highly toxic organophosphates, such as diazinon and chlorypyrifos. Despite the fact that there are plenty of effective pest control […]

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Call For Action Against Bed Bug Resurgence

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) convened the first ever National Bed Bug Summit (April 14-15, 2009) to solicit recommendations from scientists, state and local officials, pest control operators and the general public on how to tackle the resurgence of the blood sucking insects. Bed bugs have rebounded in significant numbers for the first time since World War II, partly due to increased global travel and their increasing resistance to commonly used pesticides. Bed bug outbreaks have tripled since 2005, according to a survey of 800 pest control firms across the country, infesting apartment buildings, college dormitories, hospital wings, homeless shelters and top-rated hotels. Bedbugs outbreaks have been reported in at least 27 states, including Honolulu, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Chicago, Houston and Miami. In 2006, a Chicago woman sued a New York hotel for $20 million after suffering more than 500 bed bug bites. Persistent outbreaks are normally concentrated in low-income neighborhoods, where people cannot afford to replace or professionally clean bedding and soft furnishing. Both New York and San Francisco have passed city legislation to help control the spread of the bugs. In San Francisco, the legislation centers on landlord and tenant rights while […]

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Report Finds Toxic Pesticide Combustion in Grass Seed Production

Monday, March 30th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, march 30, 2009) The burning of grass seed fields on more than 38,000 acres in Oregon has been a threat to public health for decades.

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Pyrethroid Pesticides Found in Homes and Daycare Centers

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2008) A new study, Pyrethroid pesticides and their metabolites in vacuum cleaner dust collected from homes and day-care centers (doi:10.1016/j.envres.2008.07.022), by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Exposure Research Laboratory finds concentrations of 13 synthetic pyrethroids and their degradates in indoor dust collected from homes and childcare centers in North Carolina and Ohio. The study results show the extent to which hazardous pesticides are present in indoor environments and threaten the public’s health, especially the health of children. With 85 vacuum cleaner bags analyzed, permethrin was present in all 85 dust samples, at least one pyrethroid pesticide was found in 69 samples and phenothrin was found in 36 samples. According to the study findings published in the November issue of the journal Environmental Research, the median concentration of permethrin in the samples is 1454ng/g of dust. Excluding permethrin, pyrethroid conectrations are less than or equal to 100ng/g of dust. The majority of the metabolites are present in more than half of the dust samples. This is not the first time researchers have found pesticides in dust in homes. A study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health (208: 193-199) also found that […]

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Honeybees Vanish, Threatening Crops and Livelihoods

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2007) In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have been shocked to find that bees have been inexplicably disappearing at an alarming rate, according to an article in the New York Times last week. This loss of honeybees threatens not only beekeeper livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable crops. Although the reasons for the honeybee disappearances are unknown, pesticides may be one of the culprits. “I have never seen anything like it,” David Bradshaw, a California beekeeper, said. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.” Last month he discovered that half of his 100 million bees were missing. Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction. Bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold. As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call “colony collapse disorder,” growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability […]

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