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Daily News Blog

01
Dec

Study Confirms Connection Between Exposure to Pesticides and Male Reproductive Problems

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2023) Even though researchers have noted since the 1970s that human fertility appears to be declining globally, doubt is still circulating that it is really happening and that pesticides could have anything to do with it. Very recently published studies, however, make it clear that, even without exact elucidation of the mechanisms by which pesticides damage male fertility, there is an unmistakable association of pesticides and many aspects of male reproductive health. One of the new studies, a meta-analysis of 25 studies on the connection between pesticides and male reproductive problems, finds that men exposed to organophosphate (such as glyphosate and malathion) and carbamate (such as carbaryl and methiocarb) insecticides have lower sperm concentrations than the general population. This is especially true of men exposed in work settings. The senior author of the study, Melissa J. Perry,ScD of the George Mason University College of Public Health, told HealthNews, “The evidence available has reached a point that we must take regulatory action to reduce insecticide exposure.” Human infertility is defined as “the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” Most public attention regarding infertility . . .

30
Nov

Viruses Shown to Be Effective Biological Control

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2023) Scientists at Minami Kyushu University in Japan have made a groundbreaking discovery of a new biological control for a target insect. They have identified a virus in tobacco cutworms that kills males, creating all-female generations. The discovery was described in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences and The New York Times as evidence that multiple viruses have evolved to kill male insects. This “male-killing” virus could be added to the growing attempts to control unwanted insects with biological, as distinguished from genetically engineered (GE) solutions. Efforts range from the introduction of natural predators, to radiation-based sterilization of insects, CRISPR-based genetic mutations, and other techniques. While the GE approach has run into controversy because of unanswered questions associated with their release into natural ecosystems, some approaches have also run into resistance problems. Nearly a decade ago, researchers found armyworm resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-incorporated genetically engineered (GE) maize in the southeastern region of the U.S., calling this evolution of insect resistance to a naturally occurring soil bacterium engineered into crops “a serious threat to the sustainability of this technology.” The general population knows to avoid eating . . .

29
Nov

Study Finds Novel Relationship Between Shingles and Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2023) A study published in Environment International finds high pesticide exposure incidence associated with shingles, a varicella-zoster virus (the same highly contagious virus that causes chickenpox) that reactivates in the body after having chicken pox. Shingles is a painful condition with a blistering rash that can lead to vision and hearing loss, brain and lung inflammation, and even death if not treated. Since shingles manifest decades after initial exposure, and the association is strongest among individuals already hospitalized for pesticide-related illnesses, researchers find the long-term/chronic effects most concerning. Although dermal pesticide exposure can cause a range of adverse reactions, including dermatitis, allergic sensitization, and cancer, any route of exposure can exacerbate dermal manifestations through immune system response, causing virus-based skin reactions like shingles. People encounter toxic chemicals daily. However, frequent use of pesticides, including the use of everyday products like cleaning supplies, personal care products, agricultural chemicals, fabrics, non-stick cookware, and general airborne pollution, exacerbate chemical exposure risks. Dermal exposure is the most common pesticide exposure route, composing 95 percent of all pesticide exposure incidents, and is a significant concern for occupational (work-related) health. The study notes, “[The] findings of elevated shingles risk associated with acute, clinically . . .

28
Nov

New Federal Law Seeks to Protect Pregnant Workers, Farmworkers at Elevated Risk

With the elevated adverse impacts associated with pesticides and reproductive health, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) law may be used to improve . . .

27
Nov

U.S. House Again Trying to Kill Controls for Pesticides Getting into Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2023) The waters of the United States are again under attack by the U.S. Congress. After the chemical industry and pesticide users won a major victory in the U.S. Supreme Court that limits the definition of protected waterways in May, 2023, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation that would ease restrictions of pesticides that could contaminate the remaining waterways protected under the Clean Water Act. Capitol Hill watchers expect the bill’s supporters will try to attach it to the 2023 Farm Bill. The legislation, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, HR 5089, was introduced in the House of by Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC) in July. It would reverse a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirement to obtain a permit before spraying pesticides on or near waterways. This is a repeat of HR 953, which passed the House and failed to pass the Senate in 2017. The House had passed similar legislation in 2011 amending the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) to eliminate provisions requiring pesticide applicators to obtain a permit to allow pesticides or their residues to enter waterways. CWA was adopted “to restore and . . .

22
Nov

Grassroots Power: Discover How Organic Local Action Can Transform Public Spaces on Nov 29—National Forum Series

(Beyond Pesticides, November 22, 2023) As a leading organization in advocating for organic and sustainable land management, Beyond Pesticides is honored to host the third and final webinar of the National Forum Series: Transformative Community-Based Change from the Ground Up on November 29, 2023, at 2 PM EST! This event, focusing on managing parks and playing fields with organic practices and policies, invites concerned citizens, elected officials, and land managers to learn about effective strategies for implementing organic land management in their communities. The panel discussion will highlight activists like Avery Kamila, who was instrumental in establishing Portland, Maine’s pioneering ordinance—the strongest local ordinance in the United States—that restricts the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers on both public and private properties, with few exceptions. This landmark ordinance establishes organic land care practices as the primary means to maintain properties within Portland’s city limits, including lawns, gardens, sports fields, parks, and playgrounds. Kamila’s efforts, alongside other concerned citizens, led to significant policy changes in Portland, demonstrating the powerful impact of grassroots advocacy. While Maine is one of a handful of states that allow citizens and local governments the right to control their exposure to pesticides . . .

21
Nov

Plant-Based Diets: Beneficial for the Environment But Potentially High in Pesticides?

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2023) According to a study in the Scientific Reports Journal, plant-forward diets might increase exposure to pesticide residues compared to meat-heavy diets. However, a switch to organic plant-based options significantly reduces this risk, with a separate research study indicating that vegetarians and vegans—often favoring organic products—are generally less exposed to synthetic pesticides than omnivores. The study also corroborates other research emphasizing the environmental benefits of plant-based diets, advocating for policies that make organic plant-based foods more widely accessible and emphasizing their crucial role in enhancing both environmental and human health.   Plant-based diets are increasingly popular—and with good reason. The intensification of animal agriculture is a major cause of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and high water usage. In particular, Brazil accounts for one-third of global tropical deforestation, with 80% of this deforestation in the Amazon due to cattle ranching. Additionally, animal products like fish, eggs, and meat, responsible for about 83% of land use, supply only 37% of the global protein. Numerous studies suggest that reducing meat and animal product consumption can significantly mitigate environmental impacts, particularly regarding land use and greenhouse gas emissions. However, managed grazing in organic animal . . .

20
Nov

Thanksgiving Commentary and a Prayer—Appreciation to Those on the Frontline of Change

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2023) At Beyond Pesticides, we are thankful to those working in their communities to protect the earth through their tireless efforts to effect the changes in land management required for a sustainable future. We are honored and thankful to work with and support those leading community campaigns that are foundational to the change necessary for a livable future. We recognize the difficult work of changing the status quo—dependency on practices and products that harm people and contaminate the ecosystems on which life depends—in the face of existential health, biodiversity, and climate crises. Decisions in communities that eliminate petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers are driven by the underlying science on chemical hazards to the environment and people. These decisions embrace the value of protecting the complex web of life. In this spirit, we reprint a Thanksgiving Address and prayer (the Ohèn:ton KarihwatĂ©hkwen) of the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Iroquois Confederacy or Six Nations—Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora) that reflects their relationship to the Earth by giving thanks for life and the world around them. It is a prayer that is appropriate at any time, but especially on a holiday celebrating . . .

17
Nov

Hear From the Grassroots at the Third Session of National Forum on Transformative Community-Based Change—November 29!

Join Us on November 29, 2023 for our final session centered on grassroots action: Transformative Community-Based Change from the Ground Up: Managing Parks and Playing Fields with Organic Practices and Policies  (Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2023) Since the beginning of this fall and our first webinar in September, the aim of the National Forum Series has been and continues to be enabling a collective strategy to address the existential health, biodiversity, and climate threats and chart a path for a livable and sustainable future. We come together to empower effective action. You are part of the solution!  Click here to register!  Change is driven by grassroots action of local people, elected officials, and land managers. In this context, the third session of the National Forum will share model approaches to grassroots advocacy, public policy, and land management that teach and implement respect for nature and ecosystem services, such as the natural cycling of nitrogen and disease resistance—resulting in resilient plants, landscapes, parks and playing fields, and control the existential threats to health, biodiversity, and climate. The panelists in this session will focus on organic land management systems that do not utilize petrochemical pesticides and . . .

16
Nov

Erectile Dysfunction Among Younger Males Linked to Pesticide Exposures

(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2023) A study published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation finds exposure to the insecticide chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates (OPs) has a positive association with the development of erectile dysfunction (ED). Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is the difficulty of getting or keeping an erection. Despite occurring in males later in life (between 40 and 70 years), recent studies highlight this issue emerging among adolescents, highlighting possible hormone imbalances not associated with age. Scientists and health officials already associate pesticide exposure with a decrease in male fertility, including reduced sperm count, quality, and abnormal sperm development. Exposure to many pesticides also profoundly impacts the endocrine (hormone) system, including reproductive health. Globally, ED is increasing, with over 300 million men expected to have ED by 2025. Although age and comorbid conditions (e.g., obesity, diabetes, and hypertension) play a role in ED prognosis, studies, including this one, suggest environmental contaminant exposure can also explain the increasing trend in ED. The study notes, “Future studies are warranted to corroborate these findings, determine clinical significance, and to investigate biological mechanisms underlying these associations.” Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers investigated urinary . . .

15
Nov

Glyphosate Exposure Linked to Behavioral and Gut Health Concerns in New Studies

(Beyond Pesticides, November 15, 2023) A study previously published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is drawing renewed attention to the gut microbiome in the scientific community. The study, involving a team including Demetrio Sierra-Mercado, PhD, of the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, initially established a link between glyphosate exposure and increased anxiety and fear-related behavior in rats. Glyphosate, a widely-used herbicide, has been detected in trace amounts in fruits, vegetables, grains, and other food and beverages, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Originally deemed safe for humans due to the way it interacts with the shikimic acid pathway—a metabolic route that is absent in humans—glyphosate’s indirect effects on human health are now under scrutiny as the research linking it to anxiety-like behavior grows.  Dr. Sierra-Mercado’s team is expanding on his previous research to take a closer look at the compound’s potential disruption of the gut microbiome, which plays a pivotal role in regulating both physical and mental health. His upcoming study, anticipated in August 2024, aims to delve into the intricate relationship between glyphosate exposure and the gut-brain axis, with a focus on how this may . . .

14
Nov

Celebrated 2021 Ag Ban of Deadly Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos, Reversed by Court Despite Decades of Review and Litigation

(Beyond Pesticides, November 14, 2023) One of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) strongest tools for avoiding responsibility is delay—a tactic that kept cancellation of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos at bay for 21 years—until May 2021, when a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, responded to a petition filed in 2007 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Pesticide Action Network, and numerous other groups. The Ninth Circuit ordered the agency to quit lollygagging and acknowledge chlorpyrifos’s threat to human health, something the agency had acknowledged already. The Ninth Circuit instructed EPA to either revoke the “safe” tolerances the agency had set for chlorpyrifos’s residue in various foods or demonstrate that they are actually safe. Finally capitulating, EPA issued a final rule in August 2021 revoking all food tolerances for the neurotoxicant. Tell your governor and mayor to adopt policies that support organic land management.  This looked like progress until February 2022, when a different set of petitioners—pesticide companies, U.S. farmer groups, and other countries’ agricultural interests—filed an action in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. On November 3 of this year, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit reversed EPA’s decision, thereby neutralizing the . . .

13
Nov

Commentary and Action: Court Decision and History Calls into Question Value of Pesticide Law

(Beyond Pesticides, November 13, 2023) The news of a federal Appeals Court’s reversal of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision in early November calls into question the value of the basic structures, processes, and authorities of pesticide law that the public has been told are protective of health and the environment. After decades of review and litigation, this reversal, especially on a highly neurotoxic insecticide like chlorpyrifos, identifies a fundamentally flawed system that does not protect the health of people, in this case, children’s brains. >>Tell your governor and mayor to adopt policies that support organic land management.  It was EPA’s finding that chlorpyrifos was destructive of the nervous system, particularly in children, and the functioning of the brain that led to an EPA-negotiated chemical company (Corteva/Dow Chemical) settlement in 1999 (took effect in 2000) that removed residential uses of chlorpyrifos from the market. The 2020 EPA decision, 21 years later, to stop agricultural uses followed another Appeals Court decision, departing from the agency’s usually long drawn-out negotiations that ultimately compromise health and the environment. EPA banned agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos in 2016 in the Obama Administration, but the decision was reversed by . . .

10
Nov

Law Recognizing Veterans’ Diseases from Toxic Exposure One Year Old; Thank You Veterans for Your Service

(Beyond Pesticides, November 10, 2023) In a press conference this week just prior to Veteran’s Day, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough affirmed the federal government’s medical support for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals during their service in the military under a law passed last year entitled The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022, or PACT Act. The law, passed in August 2022, identifies specific diseases as “presumptive conditions” caused during specified military service. The passage of the law is a tribute to veterans and the public uproar just over one  year ago that demanded that the U.S. Congress recognize and treat diseases caused by toxic chemical exposure during military service. The passage of the PACT Act in 2022 was controversial and first blocked by Republicans in the Senate, but public outrage and high profile support from comedian and activist Jon Stewart ultimately led to final passage. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “For too long, our nation’s veterans have faced an absurd indignity: They enlisted to serve our country, went abroad in good health, and came back home only to get . . .

09
Nov

Protection of Children from Pesticides under Threat in Farm Bill Negotiations, Data Shows

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2023) Two-hundred-foot pesticide spray “buffer zones” around 4,028 U.S. elementary schools contiguous to crop fields—according to data evaluated by Environmental Working Group—are threatened by potential Farm Bill amendments now under consideration. Legislative language, if adopted, would take away (preempt) the authority of states and local jurisdictions to protect children and restrict agricultural pesticides used near schools. Pesticide drift is a widespread problem throughout the U.S. that has attracted national attention in recent years because of crop damage caused by the weed killer dicamba in numerous midwestern states. In the face of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to mitigate drift hazards, states enact limits on when and how pesticides can be used, establish buffer zones around application sites, and in some cases, ban uses. In 2018, Arkansas banned dicamba use from mid-April through the end of October (and survived a Monsanto challenge to the ban. For a historical perspective on the drift issue, see Getting the Drift on Pesticide Trespass. Children, in particular, face unique risks from pesticide and toxic chemical exposures. Due to their smaller body size, they absorb a higher relative amount of pesticides through the food they consume and the air they . . .

08
Nov

Elevated Asthma Risk from Chlorpyrifos and Organophosphates Reported as Court Rolls Back Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2023) A study published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research finds organophosphate pesticides (OPs) are linked to an increased asthma prevalence. The study was released just before an 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals November 3 decision vacating EPA’s 2021 decision to cancel all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos and sending it back to the agency. (Required by a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in April 2021 to take action, EPA issued a final rule in August, 2021—in full effect February 28, 2022—after an earlier 9th Circuit decision, concluding that, “EPA is unable to conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure from the use of chlorpyrifos meets the safety standard of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Accordingly, EPA is revoking all tolerances for chlorpyrifos.”  Using urinary metabolites of OPs, the study highlights that diethyl phosphate (DEP, the breakdown chemical of chlorpyrifos) has the strongest association with asthma. However, individual and combined exposure to all OPs have a significant link to respiratory disease. The respiratory system is essential to human survival, regulating gas exchange (oxygen-carbon dioxide) in the body to balance acid and base tissue cells for normal . . .

07
Nov

Pesticide-Intensive Agricultural Practices Lead to Elevated Childhood Cancer Rates in Brazil

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2023) Two decades after the introduction of genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant crops and the consequential exponential growth in weed killers, Brazil is seeing an increase in childhood cancer. This is the conclusion reached in a comprehensive study spanning 15 years (2004-2019), “Agriculture Intensification and Childhood Cancer in Brazil,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in October. For the past 20 years, soybean herbicides have been killing and sickening children in the Cerrado and Amazon regions–where soybean cultivation is concentrated. The study reveals a link between an increase in soy cultivation and a spike in cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer affecting children, among indirectly exposed populations. Researchers identify pesticide-contaminated drinking water as the driving force behind the increased cancer rates occurring downstream from soybean sites.  In 2003, Brazil legalized its first official genetically modified (GM) crop, welcoming the era of GM soybeans and sparking a radical transformation in its agricultural landscape–for better or worse. The introduction of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybean seed promised farmers an efficient and herbicide-resistant alternative to traditional crops. A significant shift occurred in the areas dedicated to soy . . .

06
Nov

Sports World Rejects Synthetic Turf, Favors Natural Grass as Organic Offers Safe Alternative

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2023) Communities discussing synthetic versus natural turf are faced with a number of issues that go to safety, environmental health, and cost. The chemicals used to manage synthetic turf for bacteria, mold, and fungus raise serious health issues and represent a threat that does not exist in organic land management. When all the synthetic turf issues are considered, including chemical use, maintenance, heat effects, water contamination and treatment, playability and safety, organic grass turf offers an approach that checks all the critical boxes for protecting health and the environment at a competitive price. Hazards of synthetic (artificial) turf made news this fall following injuries to New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rogers and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, among others. Following safety concern, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) issued a  call to end the use of synthetic turf and a return to natural turf. The FIFA World Cup soccer association requires a grass playing field. The players are not the only ones demanding grass fields. Fans of singer-songwriter Taylor Swift came out in full force in favor of the switch after the injury to Ms. Swift’s rumored boyfriend Travis . . .
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