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Daily News Blog

15
May

Allowance of “Forever” or “Legacy” Chemicals Causes Insurmountable Multi-Generational Poisoning

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2023) Say “legacy contaminant” or “forever chemical” and most people today think “PFAS” (perfluoroalkyl substances), but PFAS are just the latest persistent toxic chemicals recognized as presenting an alarmingly difficult cleanup problem. Fortunately, steps are being taken by governments and businesses to eliminate use of PFAS. (Organic farmers concerned about the integrity of their products have been leaders in these efforts.)

Although government officials often devote considerable energy and resources to cleaning up contamination, the continued manufacturing of these chemicals and their release into the environment creates a futile situation. The U.S. is a signatory to the 2001 Stockholm Convention, which provides an international framework for moving persistent organic pollutants out of commerce, but the U.S. Senate never ratified it.    

Ask your Senators to ratify the Stockholm convention. Tell EPA that persistent toxic pesticides must be considered to pose an “unreasonable risk to the environment under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA),” which must result in cancellation of their registrations. 

PFAS contamination is just the latest chapter of a very old story. Legacy contamination of our bodies and the environment is partly a result of a slow piecemeal approach to eliminating these toxic chemicals. PFAS contamination is found in pesticides—and chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (“dioxins”) and chlorodibenzofurans (“dibenzofurans” or “furans”) are also found in pesticides like 2,4-D and pentachlorophenol. 
 
Lead and arsenic are legacy contaminants arising from historical use of lead arsenate as a pesticide, but most legacy pesticide contamination comes from persistent organic (meaning containing carbon) pollutants or POPs. These include organochlorine pesticides like pentachlorophenol, DDT, dieldrin, aldrin, chlordane, mirex, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, and toxaphene. Although use of many persistent organic pesticides is not allowed in the U.S., use of others–notably pentachlorophenol and lindane–is still permitted. (Lindane’s use is allowed by FDA as a pediculicide.) Some of those not used in the U.S. are used elsewhere and move in the environment. 

POPs are hazardous chemicals that threaten human health and the planet’s ecosystems. POPs take a long time to degrade, are widely distributed throughout the environment, bioaccumulate and biomagnify through the food chain, and are toxic to humans and wildlife. POPs are linked to adverse immune system effects, reproductive disorders, and population declines in birds, fish, and other species. They are associated with reproductive, developmental, behavioral, neurological, endocrine, and immunological health effects in humans. 

The persistence and mobility of these toxic chemicals requires a global approach to their removal. The Stockholm Convention on POPs requires signatories to adopt a range of control measures to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate the release of POPs but the U.S. has not ratified the treaty.

Ask your Senators to ratify the Stockholm convention. Tell EPA that persistent toxic pesticides must be considered to pose an “unreasonable risk to the environment under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA),” which must result in cancellation of their registrations.

Letter to U.S. Senators

Say “legacy contaminant” or “forever chemical” and most people today think “PFAS” (perfluoroalkyl substances), but PFAS are just the latest persistent toxic chemicals recognized as presenting an alarmingly difficult cleanup problem. Fortunately, steps are being taken by governments and businesses to eliminate the use of PFAS. Although we should be devoting energy to cleaning them up, unless we stop manufacturing them and releasing them into the environment, cleanup efforts will be futile. 

PFAS contamination is just the latest chapter of a very old story. Legacy contamination of our bodies and the environment is partly a result of a slow piecemeal approach to eliminating these toxic chemicals. One source of PFAS contamination is pesticides—and chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (“dioxins”) and chlorodibenzofurans (“dibenzofurans” or “furans”) are also found in pesticides like 2,4-D and pentachlorophenol.

Lead and arsenic are legacy contaminants arising from historical use of lead arsenate as a pesticide, but most legacy pesticide contamination comes from persistent organic (carbon-containing) pollutants or POPs. These include organochlorine pesticides like pentachlorophenol, DDT, dieldrin, aldrin, chlordane, mirex, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, and toxaphene. Although use of many persistent organic pesticides is not allowed in the U.S., use of others–notably pentachlorophenol and lindane–is still permitted. (Lindane’s use is allowed by FDA as a pediculicide.) Some of those not used in the U.S. are used elsewhere and move in the food system and the environment.

POPs are hazardous chemicals that threaten human health and the planet’s ecosystems. POPs take a long time to degrade, are widely distributed throughout the environment, bioaccumulate and biomagnify through the food chain, and are toxic to humans and wildlife. POPs are linked to adverse immune system effects, reproductive disorders, and population declines in birds, fish, and other species. They are associated with reproductive, developmental, behavioral, neurological, endocrine, and immunological health effects in humans.

The persistence and mobility of these toxic chemicals requires a global approach to their removal. One global mechanism is the Stockholm Convention on POPs, which requires signatories to adopt a range of control measures to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate the release of POPs. Although the U.S. has signed the Stockholm convention, it still requires Senate ratification.

I ask you to advocate for a vote to ratify the Stockholm convention.

Thank you.

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