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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'DDT' Category


16
Apr

Take Action: Tell President Obama to Fight Malaria without DDT

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2010) Every day, children still die of malaria, a devastating disease that is both preventable and curable. In 2009, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a renewed international effort to combat malaria with an incremental reduction of the reliance on the synthetic pesticide DDT. However, efforts to invest in real solutions are often derailed by those promoting DDT as a “silver bullet” for malaria prevention. Tell President Obama that the President’s Malaria Initiative must invest in safe solutions to malaria, not increase reliance on DDT. Sign by April 22nd and you will be included in the petition to mark World Malaria Day. Sign the petition here. DDT, or dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane, while highly persistent in the environment, was initially found to be effective against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, such as malaria. However, insect resistance to the chemical has been documented since 1946. DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972 after it was linked to the decline of the bald eagle and other raptors, and it continues to be linked to health problems. A 2007 study finds that women who were exposed to DDT before the age […]

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27
Jul

Lower IQ in Children Linked to Toxic Air Pollutants, Some Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2009) A mother’s exposure to urban air pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can adversely affect a child’s intelligence quotient or IQ, according to the new study “Prenatal Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure and Child IQ at Age 5 Years.” PAHs are widespread in urban environments and throughout the world as they have many sources, several of which are related to pesticides, including creosote used for wood preservation, burning pesticide-laden grass seed fields, and exposure to organochlorine pesticides whether banned, yet ubiquitous DDT or the still used insecticide dicofol. Other sources include synthetic turf fields and the burning of coal, diesel, oil and gas, or other organic substances such as tobacco. PAHs have been known to be bioaccumulative, carcinogenic and disrupt the endocrine system. The new study, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a branch of the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several private foundations, found that children exposed to high levels of PAHs in New York City had full scale and verbal IQ scores that were 4.31 and 4.67 points lower than those of less exposed children. High PAH levels were defined as above the […]

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02
Jul

EPA Proposes Cap for DDT Contaminated Palos Verdes Shelf

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2009) The EPA has just finished up with a round of public hearings on a proposed plan to cap a part of the Palos Verdes Superfund Site. This 17 square mile area of ocean floor off the Southern coast of California is home to one of the largest deposits of DDT in the U.S. Despite the fact that this chemical has been banned in the U.S. for almost four decades, there is an approximate 110 tons of DDT in the sediment of the Palos Verdes Shelf. Concentrations of DDT and PCBs in fish continue to pose a threat to human health and the natural environment including the discovery of highly contaminated fish. In addition, a surge of additional problems with the lingering effects of DDT have risen in recent years, particularly with its buildup in our waterways. It has currently been identified as a threat to the Columbia River, as well as to the arctic. It has also been linked to a plethora of health concerns, including breast cancer, diabetes, non Hodgkin lymphoma, and autism. Most of the contamination of the Palos Verdes Shelf is attributed to The Montrose Chemical Corporation of California. At one time […]

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17
Jun

Study Finds that Pesticides Linger in Homes

(Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2009) A new study finds that toxic pesticides, including those already banned, persist in homes. The study’s results indicate that most floors in occupied homes in the U.S. have measurable levels of insecticides that serve as sources of exposure to home dwellers. These persistent residues continue to expose people, especially vulnerable children, to the health risks associated with these chemicals. Published in Environmental Science and Technology, the study, entitled “American Healthy Homes Survey: A National Study of Residential Pesticides Measured from Floor Wipes,” was conducted as a collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Five hundred randomly selected homes were sampled using alcohol wipes to collect dust from hard surface floors, mostly kitchen floor surfaces. The swipes were analyzed for 24 currently and previously use residential insecticides in the organochlorine, organophosphate, pyrethroid and phenylpyrazole classes, and the insecticide synergist piperonyl butoxide. Researchers found that currently used pyrethroid pesticides were, not surprisingly, at the highest levels with varied concentrations. Fipronil and permethrin, both currently used, were found in 40 percent and 89 percent of homes respectively. However, the researchers found that long discontinued pesticides like DDT and […]

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27
May

Study Finds Chemical Cocktail in Brains of Marine Mammals

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2009) A recent, extensive study which investigated a variety of different chemicals, including organochlorine pesticides, in animal tissues reveals that marine mammals harbor high concentrations of hazardous chemicals in their brains. The results lay the groundwork for understanding how environmental contaminants influence the central nervous system of marine mammals. The study entitled “Organohalogen contaminants and metabolites in cerebrospinal fluid and cerebellum gray matter in short-beaked common dolphins and Atlantic white-sided dolphins from the western North Atlantic” is the first of its kind to find toxic chemicals in the brains of marine mammals. The study identified several contaminants including organochlorine pesticides like DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and flame retardants in the cerebrospinal fluid and cerebellum gray matter of several species of marine mammals including the short-beaked common dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins and the gray seal. PCBs were found in alarmingly high concentrations. Researchers found parts per million concentrations of PCBs in the cerebrospinal fluid of a gray seal. “We found parts per million concentrations of hydroxylated PCBs in the cerebrospinal fluid of a gray seal. That is so worrisome for me. You rarely find parts per million levels of anything in the brain,” remarked researcher, Eric Montie, […]

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08
May

International Agencies to Reduce DDT Use in Malaria Control

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2009) The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with the Global Environment Facility, have announced a renewed international effort to combat malaria with an incremental reduction of reliance on the synthetic pesticide DDT. As recently as two years ago, WHO was criticized for promoting DDT as the answer for malaria control in Africa, leading activists to call for increased use of alternatives. DDT has been recognized as a significant human and environmental health risk, including increased risk of breast cancer a wealth of other health concerns, and have built up in waterways and, in particular, the arctic. Now, ten projects, all part of the global program “Demonstrating and Scaling-up of sustainable Alternatives to DDT in Vector Management,” involving some 40 countries in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, are set to test non-chemical methods ranging from eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites and securing homes with mesh screens to deploying mosquito-repellent trees and fish that eat mosquito larvae. The new projects follow a successful demonstration of alternatives to DDT in Mexico and Central America. There, pesticide-free techniques and management regimes have helped cut cases of malaria by over 60 […]

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16
Jan

EPA Report Identifies DDT, Other Toxics Threaten Columbia River

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2009) The first comprehensive look at toxic contamination throughout the Columbia River Basin has been released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Issued today, the Columbia River Basin State of the River Report for Toxics compiles currently available data about four widespread contaminants in the Basin and identifies the risks they pose to people, fish, and wildlife. The four contaminants are: * Mercury * Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its breakdown products * Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) * Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants. According to Elin Miller, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle, a team of more than 20 federal and state agencies, Tribes, local governments and organizations teamed-up to draw this latest portrait of the toxic threats faced by the Columbia River Basin, which drains nearly 260,000 square miles across seven U.S. states and a Canadian province. “This is troubling news,” said EPA’s Miller. “Today’s Report shows that toxics are found throughout the Basin at levels that could harm people, fish, and wildlife. Federal, tribal, state, and local efforts have reduced levels of some toxics such as PCBs and DDTs, but in many areas, they continue to pose an unacceptable risk. Tackling this problem will require a coordinated […]

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12
Jun

Pesticides Contaminate Deep-Sea Food Web

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2008) A new study reports that pesticides, including DDT and tributyltin (TBT), have been found in deep-sea squids and octopods. This study is the first to analyze the chemical contamination of these deep sea organisms, and adds to the body of literature that demonstrates the far-reaching effects of pesticide use on global ecosystems. Pesticide contamination has been documented as far away from the point of use as the arctic and now the deep sea. In the study, to be published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, Michael Vecchione of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and colleagues from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science of The College of William and Mary report finding a wide variety of chemical contaminants in nine species of cephalopods, a class of organisms that includes cuttlefishes and nautiluses along with squids and octopods. Cephalopods are important to the diet of cetaceans, which are marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and porpoises. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the blubber of whales and some deep sea fish has already been documented. The twenty-two specimens analyzed were taken from depths between 1000 and 2000 meters (approximately 3,300 and 6,600 ft.) in the North […]

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29
May

Organochlorine Pesticide Linked to Behavioral Deficit in Infants

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2008) A study published in the May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives shows a link between prenatal exposure to the pesticide DDT and poor attention-related skills in early infancy. This study follows in a long line of recent studies associated with the negative health effects of DDT including: diabetes; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; breast cancer; and autism. Despite the fact that DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972, concentrations of this toxic chemical’s major metabolite, DDE, have remained alarmingly high in many ecosystems, including the waters of Los Angeles County, the arctic, and even U.S. national parks. All studies documenting the health effects of DDT and chemicals in the same family, organochlorines, are particularly important not just for understanding the lingering effects of DDT from days past, but because many countries continue to employ DDT as a method in controlling mosquitoes that transmit malaria, despite its toxicity, weakening efficacy, and availability of safer alternatives. Other organochlorines are still registered for use in the U.S.The study looked at 788 mother-infant pairs who met several criteria, which included living in a town adjacent to a Superfund site in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a location with known organochlorine contamination. Cord blood […]

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19
May

Contaminants in Coastal Waters Decline Yet Concerns Remain

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2008) A 20-year study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that environmental laws enacted in the 1970s are having a positive effect on reducing overall contaminant levels in coastal waters of the U.S. However, the report points to continuing concerns with elevated levels of metals and organic contaminants found near urban and industrial areas of the coasts. The report, “NOAA National Status and Trends Mussel Watch Program: An Assessment of Two Decades of Contaminant Monitoring in the Nation’s Coastal Zone from 1986-2005,” findings are the result of monitoring efforts that analyze 140 different chemicals in U.S. coastal and estuarine areas, including the Great Lakes.“It’s interesting to note that pesticides, such as DDT, and industrial chemicals, such as PCBs, show significant decreasing trends around the nation, but similar trends were not found for trace metals,” said Gunnar Lauenstein, manager of the NOAA Mussel Watch program. “What is of concern is that there are contaminants that continue to be problematic, including oil-related compounds from motor vehicles and shipping activities.” Significant findings from this report include the following: Decreasing trends nationally of the pesticide DDT are documented with a majority of the sites monitored along the […]

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08
May

Melting Glaciers Source of Persistent Pollutants

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2008) New research shows that melting Antarctic glaciers are releasing once frozen stores of persistent organic chemicals, now banned in many parts of the world. Marine biologist, Heidi Geisz, a Ph.D. student at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science studying the fate and effect of organic contaminants in the Antarctic, has found that DDT concentrations in penguins has remained at the same levels as they were 30 years ago, when DDT was widely used. Arctic animals such as whales, seals and birds have had a significant decline in their DDT levels during the past decades, while the more stationary Antarctic penguins have not. The study, “Melting Glaciers: A Probable Source of DDT to the Antarctic Marine Ecosystem,” published in Environmental Science and Technology (DOI: 10.1021/es702919n), identifies the melting snow and ice as the continued source of total DDT in this southern ecosystem. The release of DDT also means that other persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including PCBs and PBDEs — industrial chemicals that have been linked to health problems in humans, are also being released. “DDT is not the only chemical that these birds are ingesting and it is certainly not the worst,” Ms. Geisz says. Ms. […]

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29
Feb

National Park Service Study Documents Pesticide Contamination

(Beyond Pesticides, February 29, 2008) The National Park Service (NPS) recently released a report documenting airborne pesticides.  The report of the  Western Airborne Contaminants Assessment Project (WACAP), with data collected from 2002 to 2007, found high concentrations of “numerous” airborne contaminants, including current and former use pesticides. Contamination is widespread throughout twenty parks throughout the western United States and Alaska, exceeding consumption levels for humans and wildlife in some areas. According to the report, the contaminants of second and third “highest concern” are “Dieldrin – an acutely toxic insecticide banned from use in the U.S. since 1987 that decreases the effectiveness of the immune system” and “DDT – an insecticide banned in the U.S. since 1972 that reduces reproductive success.” NPS also reported that Dieldrin and DDT levels exceeded the threshold for recreational fishermen in several parks, and Dieldrin levels exceeded that for subsistence fishermen in all but Olympic National Park. Fish-eating birds are also at risk in some parks. While NPS could not establish a correlation between contaminant levels and fish reproductive effects due to small sample size, two parks produced individual “intersex” fish. However, NPS stated, “This condition is commonly associated with exposure to certain contaminants (e.g., dieldrin […]

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29
Jan

Scientists Say Pesticides and Other Pollutants May Be Linked to Diabetes

(Beyond Pesticides, January 29, 2008) University of Cambridge scientists say there may be a link between persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including pesticides, and Type 2 Diabetes. The Cambridge scientists are advocating additional research into the little understood links between environmental pollution and adult onset diabetes. In the most recent edition of the journal Lancet, Oliver Jones, Ph.D., and Julian Griffin, Ph.D., highlight the need to research the possible link between persistent organic pollutants (POPs, a group which includes many pesticides) and insulin resistance, which can lead to adult onset diabetes. In their commentary, Dr. Jones and Dr. Griffin cite peer reviewed research including that of D. Lee, et al, which demonstrated a very strong relationship between the levels of POPs in blood, particularly organochlorine compounds, and the risk of type 2 diabetes. “Of course correlation does not automatically imply causation,” says Dr. Jones. “But if there is indeed a link, the health implications could be tremendous. At present there is very limited information. Research into adult onset diabetes currently focuses on genetics and obesity; there has been almost no consideration for the possible influence of environmental factors such as pollution.” Interestingly, in the Lee study an association between obesity and […]

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14
Jan

IIT Scientists Use Nanoparticles To Filter Organochlorines from Water

(Beyond Pesticides, January 14, 2008) Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have developed nanoparticles that can remove organochlorine pesticides from drinking water. These chemicals are quite persistent in the environment and difficult to remove from water. Notorious organochlorines include DDT, endosulfan, HCH (hexacholorcyclohexane) and aldrin, all of which have known health and/or environmental hazards. Many of these chemical pesticides are used heavily in agriculture and taint India’s water. Though no comprehensive national survey has been done, isolated studies show contamination of groundwater and river systems that cannot be removed by standard water filters. “Even though some of these pesticides have been banned, they are very much present in the environment. For instance, endosulfan has an environmental lifetime of 100 years,” said Thalappil Pradeep, professor of chemistry at IIT Madras. He leads the research that has shown that nanoparticles, mostly from gold, silver, copper and several oxides, are effective at removing endosulfan even at very low concentration. “Efficient chemistry at low concentration is important so that even if one molecule of the pesticide passes by, it gets removed by the nanoparticle,” said Pradeep. He holds a US and an Indian patent and has licensed part of the technology […]

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17
Dec

Organochlorine Exposure Associated with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2007) People exposed to banned organochlorine pesticides and other toxic chemicals that persist in the environment are more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), according to new research funded by the British Columbia Cancer Agency. The study, “Organochlorines and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma”, was published in the International Journal of Cancer on December 15, 2007 and is so far the largest to examine organochlorines in plasma and their link to illness. The researchers measured the levels of pesticides or pesticide metabolites and congeners of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the blood of 880 British Columbians, half with NHL and the other half control subjects. Several pesticide analytes and a number of congeners showed a significant association with NHL. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in Canada and the most common type of lymphoma. “We know that the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been steadily rising for the past 30 years worldwide, but there hasn’t been clear evidence to explain the increase,” says Dr. John Spinelli, Ph.D., lead author and a senior scientist at the BC Cancer Agency. “Our study helps to provide answers to this puzzle by showing a strong link between these specific environmental […]

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11
Dec

Reclaiming Our Healthy Future: National Pesticide Forum Update

(Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2007) Arturo Rodriguez (UFW President), Devra Davis, Ph.D. (author and University of Pittsburgh professor of epidemiology) and Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D. (UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology) will be speaking at the 2008 National Pesticide Forum. The conference, Reclaiming Our Healthy Future: Political change to protect the next generation, will be held March 14-16, 2008 at the University of California, Berkeley. A native of Texas, Arturo S. Rodriguez has worked tirelessly to continue the legacy of Cesar Chavez since taking over the helm of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) upon the death of its legendary founder in 1993. Beyond winning fair contracts for its workers, the UFW continues to work to protect farmworkers from pesticides and other workplace hazards. Recent union victories are agreements with Gallo Vineyards Inc. and Coastal Berry Co., the largest winery and the largest strawberry employer in the U.S., as well as pacts protecting winery workers in Washington and mushroom workers in Florida. Devra Davis, Ph.D., a renowned environmental health expert, is professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Dr. Davis was designated a National Book Award Finalist for her book, When Smoke Ran Like […]

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06
Nov

Groups Announce 26th National Pesticide Forum

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2007) Reclaiming Our Healthy Future: Political change to protect the next generation, the 26th National Pesticide Forum, will be held March 14-16, 2008 at the University of California, Berkeley. The conference is convened by Beyond Pesticides, Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). Session topics include: Children’s health, Farmworker justice, Fair and healthy food, the DDT resurgence, and much more. Check the website for the weekly updates. In addition, veteran stage actress Kaiulani Lee will perform A Sense of Wonder, her one-woman play based on the life and works of Rachel Carson. The play, which is made up of mostly Carson’s own words from letters, journal entries, speeches, not only focuses on Silent Spring, but on aspects of her private life not often examined. Ms. Lee explains, “She [Carson] was very poor…She had nothing. And she changed the course of history.” Registration is $65 for members, $75 for non-members, $175 for business registrants, and $35 for students. Forum registration includes receptions, breakfast and lunch on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday, plus all plenaries, keynotes, workshops and the stage performance of A Sense of Wonder. All food will be organic. Online registration, […]

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18
Oct

Scientists Cite Pesticides’ Multigeneration Effects, Call for Regulation

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2007) In a scholarly review written by Theo Colborn, Ph.D. and Lynn Carroll, Ph.D., the authors point to the multigenerational effects of some pesticides that they say demand improved regulation to protect human and environmental health. The review, “Pesticides, Sexual Development, Reproduction, and Fertility: Current Perspective and Future Direction,” appears in the international journal Human and Ecological Risk Assessment (13:5, 1078 — 1110), September, 2007. The study points out a major deficiency in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of pesticides under current health reviews and risk assessments. The authors call EPA’s pesticide registration system “outmoded” and one that has “almost completely missed the low-dose and endocrine system-mediated effects of pesticides.” The study reviews both epidemiological and laboratory data. In the abstract, the authors state the following: Improvements in chemical analytical technology and non-invasive sampling protocols have made it easier to detect pesticides and their metabolites at very low concentrations in human tissues. Monitoring has revealed that pesticides penetrate both maternal and paternal reproductive tissues and organs, thus providing a pathway for initiating harm to their offspring starting before fertilization throughout gestation and lactation. This article explores the literature that addresses the parental pathway of exposure […]

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18
Sep

Pesticide Exposure Linked to Asthma in Farmers

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2007) On September 16, 2007, researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences presented findings to the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress in Stockholm showing that exposure to several commonly used pesticides increases the risk of asthma in farmers. Pesticide exposure is a “potential risk factor for asthma and respiratory symptoms among farmers,” lead author Dr. Jane A. Hoppin told Reuters Health. “Because grains and animals are more common exposures in agricultural settings, pesticides may be overlooked. Better education and training of farmers and pesticide handlers may help to reduce asthma risk.”The study consisted of 19,704 farmers, 441 of which had asthma. Farmers who have experienced high pesticide exposure were twice as likely to have asthma. Sixteen of the pesticides studied were associated with asthma. Coumaphos, EPTC, lindane, parathion, heptachlor, 2,4,5-TP, DDT, malathion, and phorate had the strongest effect. “This is the first study with sufficient power to evaluate individual pesticides and adult asthma among individuals who routinely apply pesticides,” Dr. Hoppin said. Asthma is a serious chronic disorder of the lungs characterized by recurrent attacks of bronchial constriction, which cause breathlessness, wheezing, and coughing. Asthma is a dangerous, and in some cases life-threatening disease. […]

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04
Sep

Researchers Find Key Link in Malaria Transmission

(Beyond Pesticides, September 4, 2007) Scientists identified an important biochemical piece in the passage of malaria from mosquitoes to humans. If this link in the chain can be broken at its source””the mosquito””then the spread of malaria could be stopped without the use of harmful pesticides or costly drugs. “Mosquito Heparan Sulfate and Its Potential Role in Malaria Infection and Transmission,” published in the August 31 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, contains the findings of the interdisciplinary team led by researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The research group found that humans and the mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite Plasmodium share the same complex carbohydrate, heparan sulfate. In both humans and mosquitoes, heparan sulfate is a receptor for the Plasmodium, binding to the parasite and giving it quick and easy transport through the body. Robert J. Linhardt, Ph.D., professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, led the team. “The discovery allows us to think differently about preventing the disease. If we can stop heparan sulfate from binding to the parasite in mosquitoes, we will not just be treating the disease, we will be stopping its spread completely,” Dr. Linhardt said. Malaria parasites are specific to their host, […]

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07
Aug

Pre-Adolescents Exposed to DDT More Likely To Develop Breast Cancer

(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2007) In a study that examines the influence of age of exposure on the magnitude of the association between DDT and breast cancer risk finds that women who were exposed to DDT before the age of 14 are five times more likely to develop breast cancer later in life. In contrast, the study finds exposure after adolescence does not increase risk. The data used in the study targets the age of a woman in 1945 as an indicator for the youngest possible age for a woman to be exposed to DDT, since DDT was first introduced to the U.S. for mosquito control in 1945. The researchers, from the Center for Research on Women’s and Children’s Health, Public Health Institute at Berkeley, California and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, analyzed blood that had been collected from women between 1959 and 1967 – years during which the use of DDT was at its highest. “DDT and breast cancer in young women: New data on the significance of age at exposure,” published last week in the online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is “the first study specifically designed, a priori, to consider whether age at exposure […]

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29
Jun

Bald Eagle To Be Removed from Endangered Species List

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2007) On June 28, 2007, forty years after it received protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and thirty-five years after the banning of DDT in the U.S., the bald eagle was removed from the ESA’s “threatened” list. Bald eagle populations declined dramatically in the last century, attributed mostly to the accumulation of the pesticide DDT in fish, a staple of the eagle’s diet. The pesticide gradually poisoned females, causing them to produce thinly-shelled eggs that broke easily, preventing the embryos from growing. Years of hunting, accidental poisoning and habitat loss took an additional toll. “The rescue of the bald eagle from the brink of extinction ranks among the greatest victories of American conservation.” said John Flicker, President of the National Audubon Society. “Like no other species, the bald eagle showed us all that environmental stewardship has priceless rewards. In every state, parents and grandparents can still point to the sky and share a moment of wonder as a bald eagle soars overhead.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 1967 listed the bald eagle as endangered, a designation that gave the bird legal protection from harmful human activities and in 1972, the U.S. Environmental […]

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08
Jun

Pesticides Shown To Reduce Soil Fertility

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2007) New research shows that pesticides can reduce the efficiency of nitrogen-fixing plants, impacting soil fertility and ultimately reducing crop yields. The insecticides methyl parathion, DDT and pentachlorophenol were among the chemicals found to inhibit or delay the symbiotic relationship between the legume alfalfa and rhizobia bacteria, which is crucial to nitrogen fixation. Legume crops are often cultivated to help replenish the vital soil nutrient nitrogen (N), but legumes cannot achieve this on their own — Rhizobium bacteria interacts with legumes to convert atmospheric N to nutrient compounds utilizable by plants. Legumes like alfalfa and soybeans are often included in crop rotations due to this beneficial relationship. Nitrogen fixation resulting from the symbiotic relationship between leguminous plants and species of Rhizobium bacteria is an ecological service estimated to be equivalent to $10 billion worth of synthetic N fertilizer annually. Symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers, which cause environmental problems such as impaired water quality. Acknowledging that SNF is both initiated and maintained by chemical signals between the host plant and the beneficial bacteria, the research team postulated that natural and synthetic chemicals could disrupt these signals. The study shows “previously undescribed in […]

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