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Daily News Blog

20
Jan

New EPA Policy to Comply with Endangered Species Law Leaves Unanswered Questions for Pesticide Uses

(Beyond Pesticides, January 20, 2022) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it will follow the law and review the impact of pesticides on endangered species prior to authorizing a pesticide for use. While it is not usually news for a government agency to announce it will follow statutory requirements, the agency’s new policy reverses decades of violative practice, whereby the EPA allowed pesticides on to market without a complete understanding of how threatened and endangered species would fare. Advocates are responding favorably to this commonsense reform, but emphasize that this should only be the start, and more significant actions are necessary to fix the long-term failures in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. According to EPA, “There are over 1,300 endangered or threatened species in the United States today. Endangered species are those plants and animals that have become so rare they are in danger of becoming extinct.” Scientists warn that humanity is causing the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. A series of reports from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) highlights how human activities threaten the healthy functioning of ecosystems that produce food and water, as well as one million species now at risk of . . .

19
Jan

Hazardous Synthetic Pyrethroid Insecticides Subject of Lawsuit Against EPA

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2022) After registering over 300 products containing synthetic pyrethroid pesticides within the last six years, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done nothing to safeguard endangered species from toxic exposure to these chemicals, despite legal requirement to do so. This dereliction of duty is set to be the subject of a new lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, which announced its intent to sue EPA. “The EPA admits pyrethroids’ wide-ranging harm to wildlife but still rubberstamps hundreds of pesticide products containing them without assessing their risks to endangered species,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center. “The EPA needs to get serious and come up with a comprehensive plan to address the havoc these pesticides are wreaking on the environment.” Synthetic pyrethroid insecticides are synthesized derivatives of pyrethrins, which are found in pyrethrum, an extract of dried chrysanthemum flowers. Compared to their natural counterpart, synthetic pyrethroids take significantly longer to degrade in the environment and thus pose longer term risks to humans and wildlife. The chemicals interfere with the proper function of the body’s sodium channels, resulting in harm to the central nervous system. Symptoms of poisoning . . .

18
Jan

Chemical Exposure Monitoring Documents Widespread Pesticide Exposure to People and Pets

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2021) A study published in Environmental Science & Technology adds to the growing body of scientific research verifying the use of silicone devices as an effective tool for biomonitoring and disease prognosis, finding widespread exposure to people and pets. Researchers can identify the presence of chemical contaminants among humans and their canine companions occupying similar spaces using silicone monitoring devices (e.g., wristbands, collars, etc.). Although scientists can gauge chemical contamination with silicone devices, anthropoid (human) diseases can take many years to develop, even after initial contaminant exposure. Identifying chronic human diseases from pollutants remains challenging as scientists lack a full understanding of mechanisms involved in chemical-driven diseases development. However, dogs develop comparable anthropomorphic (human-like) diseases (e.g., cancer, organ damage) from susceptibility to the same environmental contaminants, but at a much quicker pace. Therefore, this research highlights the significance of identifying chemicals associated with diseases that are common across multiple species over longer disease latency periods. The researchers note, “These results, in combination with our recent study investigating uptake rates of chemicals on wristbands, demonstrate that silicone samplers can be used to assess average integrated exposure over time (in this case . . .

14
Jan

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Words, “All life is interrelated,” and His Legacy Are Honored on MLK Day, Monday, Jan. 17

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2022) On the annual celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.— MLK Day, Monday, January 17 — Beyond Pesticides honors his legacy by calling out ongoing environmental inequities, and calling on all of us to advance environmental justice. In his 1967 Christmas sermon, Dr. King famously noted, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” There may be no better description of what is at stake in environmental justice work — righting environmental wrongs that have disproportionate impacts on some groups of people. In its attention to the multitude of ways in which BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) populations face disproportionate risks and impacts, Beyond Pesticides works to ensure that all people are afforded circumstances that support their safety, health, and well-being. Rather than excavate the very long historical record of environmental injustice in the U.S., today’s Daily News Blog recalls several examples from the past year. It is impossible to begin that chronicle without first . . .

13
Jan

Insects in Nature Preserves Contaminated with Over a Dozen Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2022) Insects found in nature preserves are consistently contaminated with over a dozen pesticides, calling into question the ability for these areas to function as refuges for threatened and endangered species. This finding comes from a study published last month in Scientific Reports by researchers with The Entomological Association Krefeld, the team behind the seminal study on the decline of flying insect biomass in German nature preserves, which sparked worldwide discussions about the ongoing insect apocalypse. With pesticide use rampant and contamination ubiquitous, it is imperative that lawmakers and regulators embrace stronger measures to reverse the ominous trajectory society continues to follow. After finding devastating insect declines of nearly 80% over the last 30 years in German nature preserves, researchers set out to analyze what chemicals these insects were being exposed to, whether there were differences in contamination that could be observed between seasons, and how surrounding agricultural areas influenced insect exposure to pesticide residue. Scientists established a series of Malaise traps – large, tent-like mesh nets that will trap flying insects. Between May and August 2020, two insect collection samples each were taken from 21 nature preserves around Germany. . . .

12
Jan

Banned Pesticides in Well Water Linked to Declines in Kidney Function

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2022) Well water in agricultural regions of Sri Lanka is contaminated with highly hazardous insecticides and associated with a decline in kidney function, according to research published in npj Clean Water this month. This finding is the latest piece in an ongoing ‘puzzle’ regarding the epidemic of chronic kidney disease of unknown origins in Sri Lanka and other developing countries in agricultural regions. Although the exact etiology of the disease has not been confirmed, a number of scientific studies have pointed the finger at industrial agriculture, increasingly finding evidence of chronic pesticide exposure in affected populations.   To better understand the connection between agrichemical exposure and kidney health, researchers enrolled 293 individuals from Wilgamuwa, Sri Lanka into a prospective study. Baseline data was retrieved on occupational and environmental exposure factors, focusing in on the water source individuals used at their homes. Samples of each participant’s household wells were taken and analyzed for the presence of pesticides. Of the wells sampled, 68% were found to contain pesticides. Further, every well where pesticides were detected had at least one pesticide recorded above global drinking water guidelines. The chemicals found were . . .

11
Jan

Common Home Fumigation Pesticide Associated with Increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2022) A study finds that the pesticide sulfuryl fluoride, used for insect (i.e., termites, bedbugs, cockroaches, etc.) fumigation treatments, increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the report, “Termite Fumigation in California Is Fueling the Rise of a Rare Greenhouse Gas.” Not only do most sulfuryl fluoride emissions in the U.S. occur in California, but a majority of global emissions also occur in California. When the use of methyl bromide for agricultural and structural fumigation was phased-out under the Montreal Protocol, sulfuryl fluoride became a replacement for fumigation treatments. However, researchers have identified concentrations of sulfuryl fluoride in the atmosphere due to the chemical’s long half-life and greenhouse warming potential (GWP). The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 does not list sulfuryl fluoride emissions as a GHG risk. Therefore, the researchers note, “This work emphasizes the importance of considering [sulfuryl fluoride] SO2F2 in state and national greenhouse gas inventories and emissions reduction strategies.” Researchers employed geostatistical inverse model (GIM)—commonly used to estimate GHG fluxes—alongside atmospheric measurements of sulfuryl fluoride to estimate emissions throughout the United States. Using programmable flask packages (PFPs), researchers examined atmospheric observational data from towers, observatories, and aircraft, measuring concentrations of . . .

10
Jan

Consumers Misled by USDA Genetically Engineered Food Ingredient Label; Will Congress Act

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2022) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now undermining full public disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients in our food, both through misrepresentation in labeling and through a definition that allows a large percentage of ingredients to go undisclosed. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act by food safety advocates, establishes a national GMO (genetically modified organisms or genetically engineered GE) food labeling requirement that has led to deceptive messaging, preempts states from adopting stronger label language and standards, and excludes a large portion of the population without special cell phone technology (because information is accessed the QR codes on products). However, USDA regulations go further—creating loopholes and barriers to transparency that prohibit the use of the widely-known terms “GMO” and “GE” and prohibit retailers from providing more information to consumers. Tell USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to require USDA agencies to honestly disclose genetically engineered ingredients and carry out the goals of the Executive Memorandum, Modernizing Regulatory Review. Urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to ask Agriculture Committees to hold oversight hearings to ensure that USDA holds to those goals.    USDA is . . .

07
Jan

USDA Genetic Engineered Food Label Misleads Consumers, Took Effect January 1

(Beyond Pesticides. January 7, 2022) Unbeknownst to most Americans when they woke up on New Year’s Day 2022, a new labeling system for genetically modified-engineered foods— promulgated in 2019 — which does not mention genetically engineered or GMO ingredients, went into effect. Consumer, food, and environmental advocates say that the new label is misleading, insufficiently transparent, discriminatory, rife with loopholes, and confusing for consumers. The new labeling requirement mandates that genetically engineered foods bear labels that indicate that they have been “bioengineered” or that provide a text-messaging phone number or a QR code as avenues for further information. (“Additional options such as a phone number or web address are available to small food manufacturers or for small and very small packages.”) The new labeling rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aims, according to the agency, to eliminate the crazy quilt of labels affixed to foods and ingredients that have been scientifically altered. According to an agency spokesperson, the rule is designed to “balance the need to provide information to consumers with the interest in minimizing costs to companies.” Genetically altered food items and ingredients have heretofore been called, and labeled as, “genetically engineered” . . .

06
Jan

Neonicotinoids Pass Through Aphids, Contaminating Honeydew and Killing off Pest Predators

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2022) Seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides contaminate honeydew, often the biggest source of food for pest predators, according to recent research published in the journal Environmental Pollution. Concerned advocates for pollinators and pesticide reform are likely familiar with fact that neonicotinoids are systemic, and once applied to a seed or sprayed on a plant are taken up by the plant and distributed throughout the pollen, nectar and dew drops that a plant produces. But there is another systemic effect that is not included in that picture, and in monoculture crops, it could be the biggest source of carbohydrates for beneficial pest predators – honeydew. Honeydew is produced from phloem-feeding (sap sucking) pests like aphids, whiteflies, leafhoppers, and other hemipteran insects. The waste that these insects produce is liquid, and full of sugars. “This rich carbohydrate source is a common food for many beneficial insects, including pollinators, such as bees and flies, and some natural enemies of pests, such as ants, wasps and beetles,” said John Tooker, PhD, coauthor of a recent literature review published in Biological Reviews. “Honeydew often is more abundant than nectar in agroecosystems.” In 2019, a . . .

05
Jan

Household Pesticide Use Harms Infant Motor Skill Development

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2022) Household pesticide use is associated with harmful impacts to infant motor development, according to a study published late last year in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. The research focused on primarily low-income Hispanic women located in Los Angeles, California, enrolled in an ongoing study referred to as Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES). As with other pollutants in society, low-income, people of color communities are disproportionately in contact with toxic pesticides, resulting in exposures that can start early, and affect health over the course of one’s lifetime. Women enrolled in the MADRES cohort are over the age of 18, and speak English or Spanish fluently. For the present study, roughly 300 MADRES participants met the criteria for enrollment, and completed household pesticide use questionnaires at a 3-month post-natal visit. The questionnaire generally inquired whether pesticides had been used in one’s home since their child was born. After another 3 months, researchers also tested infants’ motor development using an Ages and Stages-3 protocol screening tool, which evaluates a child’s ability to execute muscle movements. Overall, roughly 22% of mothers reported pesticide use in . . .

04
Jan

“Silence of the Clams”—Study Highlights the Threat of Multiple Pesticide Stressors to Bivalves

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2021) Chronic exposure to pesticides used in conventional forestry operations runoff and harm soft shell clams, according to a recent study published in Science of the Total Environment, entitled “The silence of the clams: Forestry registered pesticides as multiple stressors on soft-shell clams.” Rather than focusing on the impact of a single chemical, researchers analyzed the combined effects of several pesticides. “This is an important data gap to fill as research on these compounds’ toxicity typically focuses on individual compound effects at high concentrations to determine lethality, which while necessary for understanding compound toxicity, can miss sublethal effects that can have long term impacts on these systems,” said lead author Allie Tissot of Portland State University. The soft shell clam, Mya arenaria, is found to be widespread in coastal areas in both the western and eastern U.S., and is often eaten in stews or chowders. A recent study found a range of chemical contaminants detected in Oregon populations of these species, prompting researchers to further investigate the impact of these exposures. An experiment was set up with tanks to mimic a seabed, and eight different groups of 11 clams were . . .

03
Jan

Call for Serious Change of Pesticide Law in the New Year, as Health Threats Escalate

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2022) Environmentalists and public health advocates are calling for an aggressive program of policy change in 2022—change they say is critical to addressing existential crises of public health threats, biodiversity collapse, and severe climate disruption that is not being taken seriously by policy makers. On November 23, 2021, Senator Cory Booker introduced legislation to eliminate many of the current problems with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which regulates the registration and use of pesticides in the U.S. It corrects some of the worst mistakes in registering pesticides and removes some of the worst loopholes in the law. However, in order to prevent future pesticide problems, we need reform that goes deeper. Urge your Senators to co-sponsor legislation to reform the toxic core of federal pesticide law. Specifically, the bill, the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2021 (PACTPA), would provide some desperately-needed improvements to FIFRA to better protect people and the environment, including: Bans some of the most damaging pesticides scientifically known to cause significant harm to people and the environment: Organophosphate insecticides, which are designed to target the neurological system and have been linked to neurodevelopmental damage in . . .

23
Dec

Beyond Pesticides Wishes You A Healthy New Year

**We’re taking a break for the holidays. Daily News will be back on January 3, 2022** (Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2021) We at Beyond Pesticides wish our members, supporters, and collaborators all the best for the holiday season and new year. We look forward to working with you in the new year to meet the serious environmental and public health challenges with truly organic solutions. Our accomplishments are your victories. We are seeing the outcomes in communities across the country—the adoption of organic land management policies and practices that eliminate toxic pesticides, protect children, pets, and families, and protect the local ecology. With your support of Beyond Pesticides, we strive to reverse the destructive environmental and public health path that we’re on and advance the adoption of organic practices and policies that respect life. To view our accomplishments, see Beyond Pesticides’ 2021 Year in Review. Beyond Pesticides’ program supports a clear message: End toxic pesticide use and embrace organic practices and policies that respect the power of nature to heal— in the face of devastating and destructive toxic chemical-dependency. This past year has again elevated important public discourse on the threats that pesticides . . .

22
Dec

Researchers Find Nonchemical Biological Control When “Tree of Heaven” Is Being Managed

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2021) A promising new biocontrol agent for the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)—considered an invasive species in the U.S. and Europe by some—was recently discovered by French-based scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The finding centers on a small mite of the Eriophyidae family, Aculus mosoniensis, which has been found to feed on tree of heaven. The finding is encouraging for the future management of this species in conjuction with balanced ecosystems. “In Europe, this Eriophyid mite is considered one of the most promising biological control agents of tree-of-heaven,” said Javid Kashefi, senior support scientist at the European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL) in France. “This finding provides encouraging evidence that the geographic occurrence of this species is expanding in the continent.” Tree of heaven is a fast-growing deciduous tree native to Asia that has spread throughout Europe and North America. First introduced in the 1700s as a shade tree, it was appreciated for its quick growing ability and low propensity for insect damage, but quickly became problematic. Researchers identify five traits that warrant its classification as ‘invasive,’ including its ability to tolerate extreme environmental conditions, produce hundreds of . . .
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