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Daily News Blog

25
Jan

EPA: Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb on Oranges

(Beyond Pesticides. January 25, 2021) First registered in 1970 and voluntarily cancelled in 2010, aldicarb (Temik™) was being manufactured in Bhopal, India in 1984 when a leak of a precursor—methyl isocyanate (MIC)—spread over the city, ultimately killing more than 25,000 people and leaving more than 120,000 people who still suffer from severe health problems as a result of their exposure. In 1989, Union Carbide Corporation—the manufacturer of aldicarb at the time—paid $470 million (equivalent to $860 million in 2019) to settle litigation stemming from the disaster. Aldicarb, now made by Bayer, has been allowed by the outgoing Trump EPA for use on oranges. Tell EPA to Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb! No pesticide epitomizes the “cradle-to-grave” dangers of pesticides better than aldicarb. The disaster in Bhopal was followed by others, including a leak in Institute, WV in 1985 that injured at least 135 people and a 2008 explosion in Institute, WV that killed two and injured at least eight. In use, it has been implicated in poisoning of workers and their children, poisoning deer and other game consuming contaminated seeds, and notably, poisoning food grown in soil treated with the chemical. The . . .

22
Jan

Will Biden Reverse Last Minute Trump EPA Approval of the Deadly Insecticide Aldicarb, Previously Cancelled?

(Beyond Pesticides, January 22, 2021) After the past four devastating years, hopes and expectations of the Biden/Harris administration abound among the environmental and public health communities. The ears and eyes of many advocates, as well as those in the agricultural community, are attuned (among myriad candidates) to the fate of the pesticide aldicarb. Although Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration of this terribly toxic insecticide was cancelled in 2010, various limited-use reapprovals since then have meant that the compound has found its way to increasing levels of use. On January 12, as another parting shot of midnight rulemaking, Trump’s EPA approved expanded uses (see below). The $64,000 question is whether the new administration will use its authority under the Congressional Review Act — which enables Congress to pass a joint resolution (then signed by the President) to overturn a new federal agency rule and prevent its reissuance in the future — to get this pesticide retired for good. Beyond Pesticides urges President Biden’s EPA to do so. Notably, the Trump administration used the Congressional Review Act to destroy myriad environmental rules when it came into power. This permitting of expanded aldicarb uses fits the pattern. . . .

21
Jan

Genetically Weakened Skin Barrier Allows for Easier Absorption of Toxic Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, January 21, 2021) A new Swedish study in Environmental Health Perspectives demonstrates individuals with genetically weakened skin barrier protection experience higher rates of toxic chemicals (i.e., pesticides) absorption through the skin. Studies provide evidence that filaggrin genetic mutations can exacerbate the impacts of chemicals upon dermal (skin) exposure, causing various skin diseases like dermatitis and other chemical-related effects like asthma and cancer. Filaggrin is a protein that is critical to skin cell structure or epidermal homeostasis. Just as excessive exposure to UV light can cause skin discoloration and cancer, excessive dermal contact with these toxic chemicals can cause a range of adverse reactions, including dermatitis, allergic sensitization, and cancer. Dermal exposure is the most common pesticide exposure routes, compromising 95 percent of all pesticide exposure incidents. Furthermore, many pesticides contain chemicals that act as sensitizers (allergens). Therefore, it is essential to mitigate direct skin contact with these toxic chemicals and enforce proper application protocol. Dermal chemical exposure is an increasing concern for occupational (work-related) health. Likewise, people experience dermal exposure to chemicals from everyday products like cleaning supplies, personal care products, agricultural chemicals, fabrics, non-stick cookware, and general airborne pollution. Furthermore, skin disease risks can increase among those with less protection from chemical . . .

20
Jan

EPA Confirms Widespread PFAS Contamination of Pesticides, Announces “Investigation,” Stops Short of Action to Protect Public

(Beyond Pesticides, January 20, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that PFAS (per and polyfluorinated alykyl substances) ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating containers that store pesticide products, and subsequently the products themselves. The confirmation comes after preliminary testing from the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) found PFAS in the widely used mosquito pesticide Anvil 10+10. In response EPA announced further investigation and said, “EPA understands the need to provide guidance to states, tribes, and other users as they prepare to purchase mosquito control products for 2021 and will provide more information as it continues its investigation. EPA will update the following webpage with information as it becomes available: https://www.epa.gov/pesticides/pfas-packaging.” “EPA’s discovery has opened a Pandora’s Box of health risks,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, PhD, whose testing of the insecticide first raised the alarms, according to the EPA statement.  “Shipping containers may be a significant source of PFAS exposure through the entire U.S. agricultural sector.” According to EPA, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers used to store and transport pesticides are commonly treated with fluoride in order to create a “chemical barrier” that will “prevent changes in chemical composition.” The fluorinated . . .

19
Jan

Take Action: Tell the Biden USDA and Congress to Protect COVID relief for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Military Veteran Farmers!

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2021) Inadequate funding proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the “Section 2501” program) fails to address historic discrimination and inadequate assistance for farmers of color and military veteran farmers. Funding for the Section 2501 program, which for three decades, has been the only farm bill program specifically addressing needs of these underserved populations in agriculture is smaller this year, placing undue stress on already stretched-thin community organizations working to respond to farmers during this unprecedented period of prolonged economic hardship. Tell the Biden USDA to ensure that the full Section 2501 funding reaches farmers of color and military veteran farmers. Since 1990, the goal of the Section 2501 program has been to increase historically underserved farmers’ awareness of and access to USDA resources—addressing the historic inequities that farmers of color, or socially disadvantaged farmers, faced in accessing USDA programs, including Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans. Congress added military veterans to the program in 2014 as an additional underserved audience. Section 2501 grants provide funding to community-based organizations and minority-serving academic institutions to . . .

18
Jan

We Honor Martin Luther King Today

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2021) We honor Martin Luther King, Jr. today on Martin Luther King Day—a day of national service with volunteer opportunities across the nation. During this day of reflection, consider reading Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” or listening to it here. At Beyond Pesticides, our vision and work aligns with the vision Dr. King expressed—“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” To that end, we seek to eliminate disproportionate risk, with elevated toxic hazards to people of color communities, with higher rates of pesticide-induced diseases among those who live in fenceline communities where chemicals are produced, among farmworkers who harvest the nation’s food, and among landscapers who manage our parks and children’s playing fields. We seek to transform national laws that allow risks under risk assessments that institutionalize environmental racism by allowing for this disproportionate risk. We seek to eliminate toxic pesticides production and use through the adoption of organic land management. To that end, we work with communities across the country to transition their land management to organic practices and we advance organic standards under the Organic Foods Production Act that have integrity and are fully enforced. Eliminating . . .

15
Jan

Millions of People Drinking Groundwater with Pesticides or Pesticide Degradates

(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2021) A study of groundwater that feeds public drinking water supply finds pesticides in 41% of supply wells (and a handful of freshwater springs). Two-thirds of that 41% contain pesticide compounds per se, and one-third contain pesticide degradates — compounds resulting from biotic (or abiotic) transformation of pesticides into other compounds. There is considerable ink (digital and actual) covering the health and environmental impacts of pesticide exposures, and reporting on the issue of pesticide migration into groundwater and waterways. Beyond Pesticides maintains that organic practices in land management, and especially in agriculture, are the solution to the contamination of our waterways and groundwater. Such practices, widely adopted, would have enormous salutary effects on human health and the health of ecosystems and their inhabitants. Published in Environmental Science & Technology, the study paper reports this research as the “first systematic assessment of raw [untreated] groundwater used for public drinking supply across the United States to include and provide human-health context for a large number of pesticide degradates.” Samples for the research were gathered across 1,204 sites — at or near the wellheads — in 23 principal aquifers whose groundwater is tapped for . . .

14
Jan

Study Finds Link Between Pesticide Exposure and Rare Blood Cancer Predecessor (MGUS)

(Beyond Pesticide, January 14, 2021) Long-term exposure to permethrin and legacy organochlorine pesticides (aldrin, dieldrin, and lindane) increase the risk of developing monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), a blood disease that likely precedes multiple myeloma (MM)—a type of blood cancer, according to research in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Globally, cancer is one of the leading causes of death, with over eight million people succumbing to the disease every year. Notably, the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) predicts new cancer cases to rise by 67.4% in 2030. Although there is a vast amalgamation of research linking cancer risk to genetic and external factors (e.g., cigarette smoke), there is increasing evidence that pesticide exposure augments the risk of developing both common and rare cancers, including MM. This study highlights the importance of understanding how pesticide use can increase the risk of latent diseases, which do not readily develop upon initial exposure. Study researchers state, “Our findings provide important insights regarding exposures to specific pesticides that may contribute to the excess of MM among farmers… [T]he continued widespread residential and other use of permethrin and environmental exposure to organochlorine insecticides due to legacy contamination…could have important public health implications for exposed . . .

13
Jan

Ethanol Plant Processing Pesticide Coated Seeds Contaminates Nebraska Town

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2021) An ethanol processing plant located in the small village of Mead, Nebraska has been using seeds coated in bee-toxic chemicals as part of its production process, according to reporting published in The Guardian earlier this week. The plant, owned by a company called AltEn, may be the only plant in the U.S. producing biofuels with toxic seeds. There is a reason for that, and Mead residents are experiencing the adverse effects of EPA not regulating treated seeds. The prevalence of the use of seed coatings in chemical agriculture has increased over the last several decades, as the pesticide industry works to increase product sales by exploiting a loophole in federal pesticide law. Under FIFRA (the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act), a clause known as the “treated article exemption” permits seeds to be coated with highly toxic pesticides without any requirement for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess environmental or public health effects of their use. This allows hazardous pesticides (primarily insecticides and fungicides) to be used indiscriminately with no effective oversight. Research finds that over 150 million acres of farmland are planted with toxic seeds, including nearly . . .

12
Jan

New York State Bans Glyphosate/Roundup on State Land, While Advocates Push for Organic Land Management

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2021) New York State is set to prohibit on December 31, 2021 the use of glyphosate on all state property after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed bill S6502A/A732b late last year. The state legislature passed the legislation in July, 2020. The move is an important recognition by the nation’s fourth most populous state that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequately protecting people and the environment from hazardous pesticides (pesticide is an umbrella term that includes insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc). However, the law’s ability to improve these protections will depend significantly upon the management approach that replaces glyphosate use.  “A transition away from Roundup and other glyphosate-based pesticides must reject the use of regrettable substitutes, and embrace sound organic principles and practices,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. In pest and weed management, regrettable substitutions occur when one toxic chemical is banned or restricted, and another hazardous pesticide is simply used in its place. The substitution may have a different chemical formulation, mode of action, and set of health and environmental impacts, but nonetheless fills the same role as Roundup/glyphosate when it comes to weed management. When . . .

11
Jan

TAKE ACTION: Tell President-Elect Biden and Congress to Clean Up at EPA— End the Era of Corporate Deception

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2021) Treatment of chemical companies as clients rather than regulated entities is not new at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but corruption reached new highs during the Trump administration. With a new administration, it is time to end the rule of corporate deception at EPA. This goes beyond the use of the Congressional Review Act to reverse individual rules (adopted in the last six months) that defy scientific findings and compliance with environmental and public health standards. We can no longer rely on bad science and unscrupulous chemical manufacturers that put profits above concerns for the health of people and the environment. EPA must audit pesticide registrants for integrity to scientific process and set a moratorium on future pesticide registration until the agency can assure the public that their science is not corrupt, as it has been in the past. Tell President-elect Biden and Congress to clean up the corruption of science at EPA and set a moratorium on future pesticide registrations—until the agency can assure the public that the chemical manufacturers’ science supporting pesticide registrations is not corrupt. The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published a story in . . .

08
Jan

Trump EPA Adopts Rule to Undermine Science in Decision-Making

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2021) In an eleventh-hour move, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on January 5 the finalization of its controversial, so-called “transparency” rule. The agency claims that the rule— dubbed “Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information”—which mandates that researchers provide to EPA access to their raw data, will improve the credibility of its regulations because the public would be able to validate research that influences EPA regulations. In fact, as researchers and advocates recognize, this rule will significantly restrict the scientific research EPA uses in developing regulations to protect human health. This rule will mitigate against use of the best and broadest knowledge base in developing protections for the American people. In its article on the EPA announcement, The Washington Post explains that the rule would “actually restrict the EPA from using some of the most consequential research on human subjects because it often includes confidential medical records and other proprietary data that cannot be released because of privacy concerns.” Trevor Nace of Forbes magazine writes of the proposed rule: ‘It literally throws out fundamental and hallmark environmental studies the EPA paid scientists . . .

07
Jan

Pesticides and Road Salt: A Toxic Mixture for Aquatic Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2021) Insecticides and road salts adversely interact to alter aquatic ecosystems, reducing organism abundance and size, according to a study in the journal Environmental Pollution. Pesticide use is ubiquitous, and contamination in rivers and streams is historically commonplace, containing at least one or more different chemicals. Although road salts can prevent hazardous ice formation during the colder months, the study raises critical issues regarding the adverse interaction between road salts and pervasive environmental pollutants that threaten human, animal, and environmental health and safety. Authors of the study note, “Our results highlight the importance of multiple-stressor research under natural conditions. As human activities continue to imperil freshwater systems, it is vital to move beyond single-stressor experiments that exclude potentially interactive effects of chemical contaminants.” To assess the impact of road salts and insecticides on aquatic communities, researchers created a mesocosm (controlled outdoor experimental area) to examines the natural environment under controlled conditions. These communities include zooplankton, phytoplankton, periphyton, and leopard frog (Rana pipiens) tadpoles. Researchers performed a toxicity evaluation of six insecticides from three chemical classes (neonicotinoids: thiamethoxam, imidacloprid; organophosphates: chlorpyrifos, malathion; pyrethroids: cypermethrin, permethrin). Additionally, researchers note the potentially interactive effects of these . . .

06
Jan

Long-Term Roundup Exposure Found to Harm Keystone Wildlife Species

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2021) Long-term exposure to formulated Roundup and glyphosate results in significant harm to wildlife species that form the bottom of aquatic food chains, according to a study published in Microbiome by researchers at University of Birmingham, UK. The water flea Daphnia spp. often functions as a keystone species in lakes and ponds, and because of its ecological importance is frequently used as an indicator species in toxicity tests performed by pesticide regulators. Lead author Luisa Orsini, PhD, notes that most of this testing is flawed by limitations in its scope. “The problem is that much of the evidence is rooted in outdated toxicity tests which only look at the number of animals that die on exposure to extremely high concentrations of these chemicals,” Dr. Orsini said. “These tests also overlook the pathological effects arising from long-term exposure to low doses. What we’re proposing is that toxicity is measured by looking at what happens to the animal at a molecular and fitness level following long-term exposure, which encompasses the entire animal life cycle.” Dr. Orsini and her research team exposed populations of Daphnia magna to the maximum contaminant level (1 mg/L) . . .

05
Jan

Federal Court Blocks EPA from Weakening Farmworker Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2021) In the waning days of 2020, a federal court provided a hint of hope that farmworkers will retain basic buffer zone protections from toxic pesticides. The District Court for the Southern District of New York  issued in late December a temporary restraining order against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prohibiting the agency from implementing industry-friendly rules that weaken application exclusion zones (AEZs) for farmworkers. The ruling, a result of a lawsuit brought by groups Farmworker Justice and Earthjustice, is likely to put the onus on the next administration to determine the fate of the rule. Application Exclusion Zones (AEZs) are buffer zones where individuals are not permitted to enter during a pesticide application, as doing so would put one at risk of dangerous exposure. EPA’s proposal,  pushed forward by Administrator Andrew Wheeler and finalized in October 2020, included a number of changes to the way AEZs would be managed. Chemical intensive farms would no longer be required to keep bystanders out of off-site spray areas, and pesticide applications could be restarted when an individual leaves an AEZ. Current rules require farms to keep individuals out of areas . . .

04
Jan

Join Together for Food Security and the Future of Local Organic Farmers

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2021) As we begin the new year, one of the most pervasive problems that our country faces, which has been particularly painful especially during the holiday season, is food insecurity—now affecting 54 million people. Food insecurity in the U.S. is real. As we continue through the dark winter months with the threat of even greater surges in COVID-19, it is important to strengthen those connections that support food security and those who produce our food. Ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to make permanent support for small and medium sized local farmers, building on the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Package. Worldwide, the threats of impending famine have been met by extraordinary responses from countries and private donors. These events are evidence that food shortages are caused by inequities in distribution rather than underproduction, consistent with continuing population growth and contrary to claims by the pesticide industry. Peasant activists Jeongyeol Kim and Pramesh Pokharel argue that the solution to food insecurity is food sovereignty—that a food system depending on big agribusiness and corporations does not support local food production. That food system contributes to food insecurity for both the countries . . .
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