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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'air pollution' Category


31
Oct

Hidden Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in Indoor Air Cause Adverse Effects

(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2023) With cooler weather setting in and people heading indoors and closing windows, the issue of COVID-19 transmission escalates, as do concerns about toxic chemicals filling the indoor ambient air. As a recent segment of 60 Minutes (October 29, 2023) stresses, COVID-19 spreads elevated public concern and understanding about the importance of ventilation, filtration, and air exchange to indoor air quality. Unfortunately, the concerns about indoor air are not limited to COVID-19 as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) invade most spaces where people live and work. These invisible toxic substances can be found in common household products, furniture, mattresses, and more, including pesticides in and around the house. Recognizing the risks associated with VOCs and the potentially hazardous off-gassing process is crucial for protecting public health.  VOCs are a group of chemicals that can easily vaporize into the air at room temperature. These compounds are found in many everyday items, including furniture, cleaning products, pesticides, cosmetics, and even air fresheners. Some household products, particularly pesticides, can introduce their own set of risks in addition to the risks they pose due to their VOC content. VOCs can range from harmless to harmful, and their presence can have a […]

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26
Oct

Neurodevelopmental Disorders Studied as an Environmental Justice Concern

(Beyond Pesticides, October 26, 2023) The increasing prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) in the United States has raised concerns about the impact of toxic exposures on child development. A comprehensive review by Devon Payne-Sturges, PhD, and colleagues in Environmental Health Perspectives analyzes the literature about disparities in NDDs in vulnerable and marginalized populations. The review investigates over 200 studies and reveals that fewer than half of these studies actually examine disparities, and most fail to provide a rationale for their assessments. The authors also offer practical suggestions for improving future research, including better methods for characterizing race and socioeconomic status and interpreting effect modification in environmental epidemiologic studies of health disparities. Associate Professor Devon Payne-Sturges, PhD, at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health, one of the lead authors of the study and a former policy specialist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said, “FDA and EPA can act now—not later—to protect families from neurotoxic chemicals in consumer products and in the environment.” Tanya Khemet Taiwo, PhD, the other lead author and assistant professor at Bastyr University in Seattle said, “We need more stringent environmental standards to address pollution that is disproportionately impacting low-income communities and communities of […]

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03
Oct

Chicago PCBs Lawsuit Seeks Pesticide Corporation’s Accountability for Harm to Marginalized Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, October 3, 2023) On September 19, 2023, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and Corporation Counsel Mary B. Richardson-Lowry took legal action against agrochemical giant, Monsanto, filing a lawsuit that alleges the corporation’s role in polluting Chicago with Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) decades ago, despite knowing the chemicals’ detrimental effects.   PCBs are identified as “forever chemicals” due to their environmental persistence. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these chemicals “do not readily break down once in the environment.” They cycle through air, soil, and water and can travel long distances, with PCBs found worldwide.  They pose serious health risks as they can accumulate in the environment and within organisms including plants, food crops, sea life, and humans. Those who consume fish from contaminated waterways are exposed to PCBs as the chemical bioaccumulates in the fish population.  PCBs are man-made organic chemicals composed of carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine atoms. They were first manufactured and sold in 1929 by the Swann Chemical Corporation and subsequently came under the ownership of Monsanto Chemical Company in 1935. Due to their non-flammability, stability, and electrical insulating properties, PCBs quickly found widespread use. Their applications included use in electrical equipment, paints, plastics, and carbonless copy […]

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05
Sep

“Legalized Poisoning of 5,500 People” Message Highlights Controversy Over Aerial Pesticide Spray in Oregon

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2023) Lincoln County, Oregon  community members are fighting a plan announced by a private landowner to aerially spray 473 acres of clear-cut forest over the Beaver Creek watershed with a pesticide mixture containing carcinogenic glyphosate (commonly found in Roundup).  The aerial spraying is slated to take place approximately one mile from a water intake at Seal Rock Water District, which supplies water to 5,500 residents. Beyond the risks to human health, residents are concerned about the impacts on wildlife in the creek valley. Local advocates describe the area to include native wetland plants, birds, and fish, including the federally protected Coho Salmon and Marbled Murrelet, beaver, river otter, and roaming elk herds. Beavercreek is also a protected state natural area, where families paddle and walk along the state park marshlands.  Neighbors of Beaver Creek and the surrounding community are organizing phone banking, public art displays, and a petition urging Governor Tina Kotek to put a moratorium on the spray operation. One of the efforts displays the message “legalized poisoning of 5,500 people” through lights projected onto a basalt rock formation at Seal Rock State Park. The community has gathered over 2,000 petition signatures and over 100 […]

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21
Feb

Toxic Train Derailment Raises Need for Systemic Change  

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2023) The recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, should be a reminder to all of us that problems with our reliance on toxic chemicals go beyond broadcasting them on fields. In order to get pesticides to their point of use, toxic precursors and ingredients must be transported. Toxic waste products are also delivered to a location where they may be burned or deposited in a landfill. In weighing the hazards of toxic pesticides, these ancillary hazards should also be considered. Tell EPA and Congress that all impacts of toxic chemicals—from cradle to grave—must be considered before allowing their use.      The freight train that derailed February 3, 2023 in East Palestine was carrying a number of toxic chemicals. EPA notified the railroad, “EPA has spent, or is considering spending, public funds to investigate and control releases of hazardous substances or potential releases of hazardous substances at the Site. Based on information presently available to EPA, EPA has determined that Norfolk Southern Railway Company (Norfolk Southern or “you”) may be responsible under CERCLA [Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act–Superfund] for cleanup of the Site or costs EPA has incurred in cleaning up the Site.” But […]

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01
Feb

Indoor Air Pollution: Pesticides Continue to Make their Way Into Homes

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2023) A study published in Environment International concurs with previous reports that agricultural pesticide treatment can contaminate nearby residential areas, resulting in indoor chemical exposure via concentrations of insecticide active ingredients in house dust. Pesticide contamination in homes has ties to higher levels of pesticide residue in both human and pet bodies. Some pesticides, like organochlorine compounds, have poor elimination from the body, leading to accumulation over a lifetime. Pesticide exposure can heighten risks of various cancers (i.e., prostate, hepatic, liver, etc.), mental health problems (i.e., depression), respiratory illnesses (asthma), endocrine disruption, and many other pesticide-induced diseases. Extensive pesticide use can predispose human pathogenic to antibiotic resistance, bolstering bacterial virulence. Studies like this are concerning as it reveals that individuals do not have to be in close contact (e.g., chemical manufacturers, farmworker, gardener, custodian, etc.) with pesticides for risky, health-harming exposures to occur. Despite stricter regulations and technological changes beginning to decrease air pollution from cars and other vehicles, scientists are finding that the use of pesticides and other household chemicals represents an increasing proportion of U.S. smog-forming air pollution. Personal care products, cleaning agents, perfumes, paints, printing ink, and pesticides warrant greater attention from regulators for their ability to form toxic fumes that can eventually make their way […]

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30
Jul

Commentary: Will Playing Fields, Parks, and Lawns Be Safe After Glyphosate in Roundup Residential Use Ends in 2023?

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2021) Bayer (Monsanto), the maker of the deadly herbicide glyphosate/Roundup, after hinting in May that it would end the weed killer’s residential uses in the U.S., made it official yesterday. With its announcement to shareholders, Bayer puts an end to residential uses beginning in 2023 and allocates $4.5 billion to cover “the company’s potential long-term exposure” from lawsuits by those harmed by the chemical. At the same time, the company announced it is seeking a U.S. Supreme Court hearing to reverse significant jury verdicts (from $289 million to $2 billion) for individuals who have suffered health damage they tie to glyphosate exposure. Bayer claims that it will argue that federal pesticide law preempts litigation against products that it has registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA). Similar arguments have been tried before, most notably in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences (2005), and the Supreme Court has found that federal pesticide law does not protect “manufacturers of poisonous substances.” (See more below.) Despite the extensive scientific review (see Pesticide Gateway) of glyphosate/Roundup and a “probable” cancer causing ranking by the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015, Bayer says, “This move is being made exclusively […]

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29
Jul

Pesticides and Other Volatile Chemicals Cause Air Pollution Linked to Premature Deaths

(Beyond Pesticides, July 29, 2021) Between 340,000 and 900,000 premature deaths each year can be linked to air pollution caused by the release of volatile organic compounds, such as pesticides, paints, and cleaning agents, from anthropogenic sources. The findings, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, included an international team of over 50 scientists, lead by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “The older idea was that to reduce premature mortality, you should target coal-fired power plants or the transportation sector,” lead author of the study Benjamin Nault, PhD, said. “Yes, these are important, but we’re showing that if you’re not getting at the cleaning and painting products and other everyday chemicals, then you’re not getting at a major source.” While the connection between air pollution and direct sources of particulate matter in the atmosphere have a large body of supporting literature, there is little understanding of the impact caused by other chemical products that humans use. Those direct sources, such as exhaust fumes from cars and the smoke stacks from coal-fired power plants, are generally regulated by government agencies in the U.S. and in other countries. Even secondary sources of pollution – such as nitrous oxides caused when fumes […]

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