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Daily News Blog

01
Mar

Literature Review on Obesogens Highlights the Long-Term Metabolic Impacts of Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2024) A comprehensive research review published in Environment & Health analyzes existing research demonstrating the link between an increase in obesity and the proliferation of synthetic chemicals that “interfere with lipid metabolism.” The study documents over 50 obesogens with high-level human exposure rates, including per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), phthalates (PAEs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), that can lead to lipid metabolism disruption including health impacts on the liver and insulin resistance, among other metabolic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and dyslipidemia. Authors in this study highlight the scientific research community’s focus on adipose tissue and the liver, and a need to further explore effects on cardiovascular and kidney health. This anthology of research demonstrates the complexity of the threats associated with toxic pesticides, the severe limitations of their regulatory review, and the failure to consider organic practice and product alternatives that eliminate their use. Environmental obesogens are chemicals that are proven to have a health impact on metabolic systems relating to obesity. This review evaluates literature, going back to the 2006 obesogen hypothesis, on the metabolic impacts of environmental obesogens, including epidemiologic data, in vitro studies, and . . .

29
Feb

Oregon Is the Latest State to Step In and Ban Widely Used Neurotoxic Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos, as EPA Stalls

(Beyond Pesticides, February 29, 2024)  In the face of federal inaction, an Oregon regulation banning the agricultural uses of the highly toxic chlorpyrifos took effect on January 1, 2024. Chlorpyrifos was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2000 for most residential uses by its manufacturer, Dow Chemical, and has been the subject of extensive litigation. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed most agricultural uses to continue. Oregon joins four other states that have acted to ban chlorpyrifos, including Hawai’i, New York, California, and Maryland.   Central to state action are nervous system and brain effects in children, especially farmworker children. Chlorpyrifos is banned in 39 countries, including the European Union (see here for more Beyond Pesticides coverage). State action has become important since the November 2023 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which overturned the EPA rule revoking all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos, an effective ban on chlorpyrifos use. The final EPA rule, issued in August 2021, came in response to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found the agency’s inaction on chlorpyrifos unlawful. The case was filed by Earthjustice, on behalf of public health, . . .

28
Feb

Attack on Vulnerable Species Pilot Project: Opportunities to Engage with EPA on ESA

(Beyond Pesticides, February 28, 2024) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is putting on hold its Vulnerable Species Project (VSP) after vociferous comments from the petrochemical pesticide industry to instead, “create a narrow, tailored policy rather than a sweeping, burdensome one,” according to a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Upon heavy pushback from the petrochemical pesticide industry and agribusiness, EPA is hosting a variety of workshops and openings for the public to provide feedback not just on VSP, but the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Workplan the Biden Administration originally introduced in 2021 in its entirety. Advocates are calling for the strengthening of pesticide regulation given the impending decisions that may shape the fate of ESA-FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) compliance for years to come. As EPA continues through its pesticide registration program to advance continued dependency on pesticides through its interpretation of FIFRA, despite the availability of nontoxic alternatives, endangered species extinction and biodiversity collapse has never been a high priority. While EPA has initiated efforts to address a significant backlog of pesticide evaluations, Civil Eats has reported that the agency faces a task so extensive that it may require several additional decades to fully catch up. EPA . . .

27
Feb

Pesticide Exposure Linked to Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and Metabolic Disease in Seniors

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2024) Popular culture and official policy continue to ignore a blatant source of the rise in obesity: chemical exposures, including pesticides. A study, “Associations of chronic exposure to a mixture of pesticides and type 2 diabetes mellitus in a Chinese elderly population,” contributes to the now-massive trove of evidence linking pesticides to diseases and shows that by the time people reach retirement age they are suffering from a heavy burden of contamination that raises their risk of complex disease. Since the 1960s, obesity in both adults and children has nearly tripled. More than half of U.S. adults were either obese or severely obese by 2018, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. The 55-year trend line is decidedly upward. More women than men are obese, and black women suffer the most, but men are racing to catch up. Between 1999 and 2018, Mexican American men shot up from the lowest percentage of obesity to nearly the highest. Obesity is a milestone on the road to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney failure, joint replacement, and more. The causes of obesity are severely misunderstood. . . .

26
Feb

Take Action: Pesticide Manufacturers Ask States To Shield Them from Lawsuits by Those Harmed

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2024) Beyond Pesticides today launched an action to stop a nationwide campaign by chemical manufacturers to shield themselves from liability cases filed by those who have been harmed by pesticide products. As widely reported, Bayer/Monsanto has been hit with numerous jury awards and settlements totaling billions of dollars for adverse health effects associated with their weed killer glyphosate (RoundupTM). After unsuccessfully seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of two of these cases, the industry is now pushing legislation in state legislatures that will shield them from future liability litigation. This is not the first time that the pesticide and toxic chemical industry has sought protection from the states after losing in the highest U.S. Court. After the Supreme Court upheld the right of localities to restrict pesticides more stringently than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory agencies in Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier (501 U.S. 597, 1991), the industry went to every state legislature in the country to seek state preemption of their local jurisdictions’ authority to restrict pesticides. They were successful in putting state preemption laws in place in 43 states and have since added another.   . . .

23
Feb

Bayer/Monsanto in Roundup/Glyphosate Case Stung with Largest Multi-Billion Dollar Jury Award, Asks States to Stop Litigation

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2024) The latest string of billion-dollar plaintiff judgments against Bayer/Monsanto, the maker of Roundup™ with active ingredient glyphosate, does not yet signal a capitulation by Bayer or a win for public health or the environment in the United States. A jury award of $2.25 billion, the largest to-date, was handed down in Philadelphia in January. As Beyond Pesticides reported previously, Monsanto has a long history of challenging scientific findings on Roundup/glyphosate and evidence of harm to human health, the environment, and crops themselves (see resistant super weeds here and here), as it seeks to avoid liability claims by those suffering from cancer.  Bayer Looking to State Legislatures for Protection from Lawsuits  As result of its failure in quash lawsuits, Bayer has moved its case to state legislatures, where it is seeking the adoption of statutes that preempt liability claims by damaged parties.  As reported by Beyond Pesticides, a rash of state legislation has been introduced in Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, and Florida, which would block plaintiff liability claims when pesticide products, like Roundup, cause harm. The chemical industry pushes the notion that the registration of its pesticide products with the U.S. . . .

22
Feb

State Legislation Popping Up to Limit Liability of Pesticide Manufacturers

(Beyond Pesticides, Feb 22, 2024) The Idaho Senate failed to pass SB 1245 last week which would have provided legal protection to pesticide manufacturers from “failure-to-warn” liability. This legal framework has been pivotal not only for plaintiffs, who are typically users of a toxic product, seeking redress from exposure to glyphosate-based herbicide products such as Roundup, but can also potentially extend to any toxic pesticide products. Similar bills have recently been introduced in the Iowa, Florida, and Missouri state legislatures as petrochemical pesticide industry actors such as Bayer face billions of dollars in legal settlements from victims of pesticide injury. While the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) registration process permits the labeling of products with pesticidal claims based on compliance with testing requirements, the state legislation would establish EPA-authorized pesticide labels as definitive evidence that cannot be challenged in a court of law. The Idaho legislation, SB 1245, was introduced in January in the state Senate by Senator Mark Harris, who represents Soda Springs County, which has North America’s largest elemental phosphorus mine (phosphorus is a critical ingredient in developing glyphosate). Proponents of SB 1245 argue, “[This bill] protect[s] companies that produce . . .

21
Feb

Weed Killer 2,4-D’s Adverse Effect on the Liver Adds to List of Hazards from Food, Lawn, and Water Residues

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2024) In addition to its effects including cancer, and reproductive, immune or nervous system disruption, according to international findings, a review published in Toxics finds that the the widely used weed killer 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) causes significant changes in liver structure and function. 2,4-D can damage liver cells, tissue, and inflammatory responses through the induction of oxidative stress. The liver, the largest solid organ in the human body, is an essential part of the digestive system responsible for blood detoxification, nutrient metabolization, and immune function regulation. However, rates of chronic liver diseases are increasing, representing the second leading cause of mortality among all digestive diseases in the U.S. In fact, researchers warn of the rise in liver disorders and metabolic syndrome among young people. Therefore, reviews like this highlight the research available to make decisions on safeguarding human health from chemical exposure to mitigate further disease outcomes and complications. 2,4-D is used on turf, lawns, and rights-of-way, as well as in forestry and aquatic systems. 2,4-D products are available as liquid, dust, and granule fields, as well as fruit and vegetable crops, including in genetically engineered crop production. The chemical is widely used in . . .

20
Feb

Take Action: Advocates Ask Congress to Include Protections from PFAS Contamination in Farm Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2024) With health risks including developmental, metabolic, cardiovascular, and reproductive harm, cancer, damage to the liver, kidneys, and respiratory system, as well as the potential to increase the chance of disease infection and severity, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and their toxic trail of contamination in the environment is wreaking havoc with all life. The use of PFAS in industrial and commercial applications has led to widespread contamination of water and biosolids used for fertilizer, poisoning tens of millions of acres of land and posing a significant threat to the biosphere, public health, gardens, parks, and agricultural systems. Farmers and rural communities, in particular, bear the brunt of this contamination, as it affects their drinking water, soil quality, and livestock health.   Tell Congress that the Farm Bill must include the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act and the Healthy H2O Act to protect farmers and rural communities from PFAS contamination.  Led by Chellie Pingree (D-ME), U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Susan Collins (R-ME), a bipartisan and bicameral bill—the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act—has been introduced to provide assistance and relief to those affected by PFAS. A second bill, the Healthy H2O Act, introduced by Representatives Pingree and . . .

16
Feb

Disproportionate Pesticide Hazards to Farmworkers and People of Color Documented. . .Again

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2024) A report released in January, US pesticide regulation is failing the hardest-hit communities. It’s time to fix it, finds “people of color and low-income communities in the United States and around the world continue to shoulder the societal burden of harmful pollution.” More specifically, the authors state that “ongoing environmental injustice is the disproportionate impact these communities suffer from pesticides, among the most widespread environmental pollutants.” The report follows an earlier article by the same lead authors and others (see earlier coverage) on the long history of documented hazards and government failure to protect farmworkers from pesticide use in agriculture. In a piece posted by Beyond Pesticides earlier this week, the serious weaknesses in the worker protection standard for farmworkers are documented.   The latest report was led by Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center for Biological Diversity and Robert Bullard, known as the “Father of Environmental Justice” and executive director of the Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University in Houston. In addition to these authors, the 2022 review was coauthored by Jeannie Economos of the Farmworker Association of Florida, . . .

15
Feb

USDA Pesticide Data Program Continues to Mislead the Public on Pesticide Residue Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, February 15, 2024) The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pesticide residue report, the 32nd Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary report, released in January, finds that over 72 percent of tested commodities contain pesticide residues (27.6 percent have no detectable residues), mostly below the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set for tolerances (allowable residues) whose safety standards have been called into question by advocates. USDA spins its report findings as a positive safety finding because, as the Department says, “[m]ore than 99 percent of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the established EPA tolerances.” USDA continues, “Ultimately, if EPA determines a pesticide use is not safe for human consumption, EPA will mitigate exposure to the pesticide through actions such as amending the pesticide label instructions, changing or revoking a pesticide residue tolerance, or not registering a new use.” As Beyond Pesticides reminds the public annually when USDA uses the report to extol the safety of pesticide-laden food, the tolerance setting process has been criticized as highly deficient because of a lack of adequate risk assessments for vulnerable subpopulations, such as farmworkers, people with compromised health or preexisting . . .

14
Feb

EPA’s Worker Protection Standard Fails to Protect Farmworkers’ Health, Report Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2024) The latest in a series of reports on the state of farmworker protection, released last December, highlights the long history of health threats, regulatory failures, and structural racism that is imbued in the chemical-intensive agricultural system that feeds the nation and world. The authors conclude that farmworkers “face a level of occupational risk unrivaled by most workers.” They continue: “From repeated exposure to pesticides and extreme heat, to injuries from machinery and repetitive motion, conditions on American farms involve myriad hazards. Meanwhile, a lack of access to healthcare and legal services, low wages, marginalization, language barriers, racism, and the threat of deportation among these largely immigrant communities compound their many challenges.” Describing the U.S. food system and the workers who serve as its foundation, Precarious Protection: Analyzing Compliance with Pesticide Regulations for Farmworker Safety is the third publication in a series of reports on farmworker health and safety, led by the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law and Graduate School and written with the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and the nonprofit group Farmworker Justice. Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future . . .

13
Feb

Court Strikes Down EPA’s Allowance of Weedkiller Dicamba after Scathing Inspector General Report

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2024) Last week, the United States District Court for the District of Arizona struck down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2021 approval of three dicamba-based herbicides. This is the second lawsuit since 2020 to call out EPA’s violation to both the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to authorize the use of over-the-top (OTT) dicamba-based herbicide products from Bayer and other petrochemical pesticide companies. This rejection of dicamba-based herbicides fuels advocates’ push for stronger regulatory actions by EPA for all petrochemical pesticides and their push for the more widespread adoption of organic practices that do not use these chemicals. The case was filed by Center for Food Safety (CFS), Center for Biological Diversity, National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America. Beyond Pesticides has covered the dicamba tragedy for years, including the EPA Office of the Inspector General’s critical 2021 report, EPA Deviated from its Typical Procedures in Its 2018 Dicamba Pesticide Registration Decision. The report identifies EPA’s abandonment of science and assault on agency integrity. In addition to citing adverse impact on nontarget crops and the environment, the Court zeroes in . . .

12
Feb

Amid Damning Criticism of Its Scientific Integrity, EPA Takes Public Comments on Updated Policy

(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2024) Public Comments Due February 23, 2024. As the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) takes public comments on its updated scientific integrity policy (until February 23, 2024), Beyond Pesticides issued an action and reminds the agency that when it fails to carry out its mission to protect health and the environment—by allowing use of pesticides that are known to be hazardous and not fairly and scientifically evaluated, it is responsible for a toxic tragedy that has debilitating and deadly consequences for people and the ecosystems critical to sustaining life. Key to the recommendations Beyond Pesticides is urging EPA to consider are the following: (i) incorporate independent and emerging science into its chemical reviews; (ii) Update protocol to keep pace with new science; (iii) address vulnerabilities of those at highest risk, including those with preexisting health conditions; (iv) consider safer alternatives in calculating unreasonable risk; (v) disclose uncertainties associated with agency science or data gaps, and (vi) establish criminal penalties for EPA staff integrity violations. In the wake of intense criticism of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientific integrity, the agency has announced updates to its scientific integrity guidelines. As the agency acknowledges . . .

09
Feb

Take Action: EPA Accepting Public Comments on Seeds and Paint that Contain Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2024) EPA is accepting public comments through today, Friday February 9, on its long-held policy of exempting “treated objects,” including seeds and paint, from pesticide registration. Although EPA does not ask the most important question—“Should pesticide-treated seeds and paint be exempt from the scrutiny given pesticide products?”—this comment period offers an opportunity to respond to EPA’s questions and express concern about hazards associated with chemical use and product ingredients. Despite exposure patterns associated with the use of pesticides in treated objects that are linked to environmental contamination and human poisoning, EPA is focused on labeling and not regulation. Instead of focusing on the exposure and harm associated with the object’s use—whether treated seeds poison pollinators, soil, and water or whether paint treated with fungicides poisons people exposed to the paint—EPA takes the position that unless the manufacturer makes a pesticidal claim, the object is not regulated as a pesticide for its pesticidal effects.  Beyond Pesticides states: At the very least, if EPA deems the hazards associated with the use of the pesticide in the treated article acceptable, then the agency should disclose the chemical used in the . . .

08
Feb

Mother’s Glyphosate Exposure During Pregnancy Increases Child’s Risk of Poor Brain Function and Development

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2024) A study published in Environmental Research finds an association between adverse neurodevelopment (brain function and development) among infants and exposure to the herbicide glyphosate during pregnancy (gestational). Moreover, neurodevelopment becomes more pronounced at 24 months or two years. The increasing prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) in the United States has raised concerns about the impact of toxic exposures on child development. Given the disproportionate exposure burden in the U.S., children from marginalized groups and low-income families are more likely to face a variety of harmful threats that can negatively affect childhood development. These disparities are linked to neurodevelopmental disorders. NDDs are defined as conditions related to the functioning of the nervous system and the brain, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, learning difficulties, intellectual disability (cognitive impairment), conduct disorders, cerebral palsy, and challenges related to vision and hearing. Therefore, the study notes, “Given glyphosate’s wide usage, further investigation into the impact of gestational glyphosate exposure on neurodevelopment is warranted.” The study includes mother-child pairs in a Puerto Rican birth cohort called PROTECT-CRECE, which measures urinary glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA; a metabolite [breakdown product]) of glyphosate) levels from mother and child for analysis. The study . . .

07
Feb

Consumers Left High and Dry: Public Health Issues Persist with Cannabis Products and Production Practices

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2024) Sun + Earth Certified (SEC), a West Coast third-party regenerative organic certifier of cannabis products, approved the first certification for an East Coast farm in Brattleboro, Vermont – Rebel Grown. The expansion of independent certifications amidst the ongoing legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana usage raises questions on the regulation of toxic petrochemical pesticides found in a range of cannabis products. SEC does establish, in its standards, the use of “biopesticides…[o]nly if the product brand name is approved for use in certified organic farming.” Additionally, the label goes beyond the stringency of the National Organic Program in its policy on potassium bicarbonate as an approved input. For example, SEC standards dictate that this input should be, “[f]or pest control as a last resort only… [and] only if the product brand name is approved for use in certified organic farming.” Rebel Grown– the new farm that acquired the SEC label – owner reported to Brattleboro Reformer, “Cannabis grown regeneratively, under the sun and in the soil, without toxic chemicals, is not only high quality but also the best for the earth.” Before delving into the weeds, there is important legal context on . . .

06
Feb

The Link Between Ovarian Cancer and Pesticides Increases Among Female Farmers

(Beyond Pesticides, February  6, 2024) A study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine finds that pesticide exposure, especially during puberty, can play a role in ovarian cancer development among female farmers. Although there are many studies that evaluate the risk for cancers among farmers, very few pieces of literature cover the risk of ovarian cancer from pesticide exposure. Additionally, this study notes suggests the role of hormones in ovarian cancer prognosis and development, highlighting an association with endocrine disruption. Exposure to past and current-use endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), like pesticides, has a long history of severe adverse human health effects. Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., chemical substances like toxic pesticides foreign to an organism or ecosystem) present in nearly all organisms and ecosystems. The World Health Organization (WHO), European Union (EU), and endocrine disruptor expert (deceased) Theo Colborn, Ph.D., classify over 55 to 177 chemical compounds as endocrine disruptors, including various household products like detergents, disinfectants, plastics, and pesticides. Endocrine disruption can lead to several health problems, including hormone-related cancer development (e.g., thyroid, breast, ovarian, prostate, testicular), reproductive dysfunction, and diabetes/obesity that can span generations. Therefore, studies related to pesticides and endocrine disruption help scientists understand the underlying mechanisms that indirectly or directly cause cancer, among . . .

05
Feb

EPA’s Proposed Endocrine Disrupting Pesticide Review Called Deficient

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2024) Public Comment Period Ends February 26, 2024. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) never completed protocol for testing pesticides that disrupt the fundamental functioning of organisms, including humans, causing a range of chronic adverse health effects that defy the common misconception that dose makes the poison (“a little bit won’t hurt you”)—when, in fact, minuscule doses (exposure) wreak havoc with biological systems. After a nearly two decade defiance of a federal mandate to institute pesticide registration requirements for endocrine disruptors, EPA has now opened a public comment period ending February 26, 2024 and advocates are criticizing the agency’s proposed evaluation as too narrow. A detailed examination of EPA’s proposal can be found in draft comments by Beyond Pesticides.  Endocrine disruption as a phenomenon affecting humans and other species has been critically reviewed by many authors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can, even at extremely low exposure levels, disrupt normal hormonal (endocrine) function. Such endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC) include many pesticides, exposures to which have been linked to infertility and other reproductive disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and early puberty, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s, . . .

02
Feb

The European Union Takes on Greenwashing with a Broad Brush

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2024) Last March, the European Union (EU) Parliament passed a measure to prevent greenwashing in the EU. As public concern about both human and ecosystem health rises, so does greenwashing—corporate efforts to mislead the public with label and marketing language for products and services that is outright dishonest or contains misrepresentations. And so, there has been an explosion of products or practices that are characterized in the market as “eco-friendly,” “green,” “carbon-neutral,” “regenerative,” “sustainable,” “natural,” and “safe”—all with a lack of uniform definition, compliance criteria, and enforcement. To the contrary, in crop/plant production and processing, “organic” does have a legal definition, subject to public review, certification, and enforcement. However, with greenwashing, many corporations aggressively try to gain a share of the $60 billion organic food market and nearly $22 billion organic personal care product market in the U.S. According to ESG Today, the new law passed by the EU Parliament arose because a European Commission-sponsored study found that more than half of green claims are vague or misleading, and another 40% could produce no supporting evidence at all. EU member states have two years to incorporate the measure . . .
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