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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'contamination' Category


01
May

Pesticide Residues in Food Do Not Tell the Full Story on Hazards and the Importance of Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2024) According to a new analysis by Consumer Reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary has once again failed to accurately portray the safety of some of the most commonly sold fruits and vegetables in the United States. A review of seven years of PDP data show that 20% of the foods tested pose a ā€œhigh riskā€ to the public and 12 specific commodities are so dangerous that children or pregnant people should not eat more than one serving per day, according to Consumer Reports analysis. Consumer Reports contend that U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) pesticide residue tolerances are too lenient. To better evaluate potential health risks associated with various foods, Consumer Reports applied stricter residue limits than the EPA tolerances (see here for CR’s analytical methodology). Notably, USDA certified organic food products are not permitted to be produced with the pesticides identified by the report. Pesticide residues found in organic, with rare exception, are a function of the off-target chemical-intensive agriculture pollution through pesticide drift, water contamination, or background soil residues. The Consumer Reports results fly in the face of the rosy outlook reported by the USDA in its 2022 […]

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26
Apr

More Data Finds Long-Term Exposure to Toxic Pesticides Alters Human Gut Microbiome and Metabolism

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2024) Researchers build on existing research when assessing the relationship between long-term exposure to organophosphorus pesticidesā€”widely used in food production and homes and gardensā€”and the human gut microbiome. In a new study published in Environmental Health, an interdisciplinary research team from University of California, Los Angeles determined, ā€œthat exposure to [organophosphorus pesticides] is associated with changes in the abundance of several bacterial groups and differential functional capacity in metabolic pathways supported by the human gut microbiome.ā€ The study draws upon data from a ā€œParkinsonā€™s, Environment and Gene study (PEG)ā€ in which 190 participants were asked to submit fecal samples and answer interview questions. ā€œ[The study] was initially designed to investigate the etiology of Parkinsonā€™s disease (PD) and participants were recruited in two study waves [ā€˜over the full 10-year exposure windowā€™]: 2001ā€“2007 and 2012ā€“2017. At baseline, [Parkinsonā€™s disease] patients were diagnosed within the past 5 years and randomly selected community controls were also recruited,ā€ the research team shares in their Methodology section. ā€œSince 2017, we invited previous study participants who could be contacted to enroll in a pilot study of the gut microbiome. In addition, we invited a household or community member of [Parkinsonā€™s] patients to participate.ā€ […]

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23
Apr

EPA Inspector General Report Cites Agency Failures in Cleanup of Wood Preservatives at Superfund Site

(Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2024) The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report last week finding that the agency has failed to establish ā€œinstitutional controlsā€ at the American Creosote Works Superfund Site in Pensacola, Florida, leading to continuous groundwater and soil contamination that ā€œleav[es] the public at risk of exposure.ā€ The 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) established the Superfund program, codified under 42 U.S.C. Chapter 103, to clean up contaminated sites with tax money from polluting industries. The OIG made eight recommendations for the regional EPA administrator and one for the assistant administrator ā€œfor Land and Emergency Management to improve the institutional controls at American Creosote Works Superfund Site.ā€ There are three main determinations found in the results section of the OIG report: first, the institutional controls to prevent potential exposure were either ā€œinsufficient or unimplemented;ā€ second, the EPA missed its mark in communicating associated risks to the public in areas surrounding this Superfund site; and third, the full administrative record for this site was not available at the time of inspection. This report builds on what advocates argue is the sustained legacy of EPA inaction and failure to […]

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17
Apr

ā€œForever Chemicalā€ PFAS Drinking Water Rules Issued, Urgency to Shift from Petrochemicals Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, April 17, 2024) With headlines drawing public attention to the contamination of drinking water after years of federal government neglect, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 10 new standards to reduce public exposure to PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as ā€œforever chemicalsā€ because of their persistence. EPA has finalized a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for six PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, which EPA has recognized have no safe level of exposure, regulating new chemicals for the first time since the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). PFAS persistence and bioaccumulation in humans, wildlife, and the environment is due to the strength of a resulting fluorineā€“carbon atom bond. PFAS contamination of drinking water, surface and groundwater, waterways, soils, and the food supplyā€”among other resourcesā€”is ubiquitous worldwide. PFAS is used in everyday products, including cookware, clothes, carpets, as an anti-sticking and anti-stain agent, in plastics, machinery, and as a pesticide. The action was welcomed by environmentalists and public health advocates as an important step but left many concerned that any level of exposure to these chemicals is unacceptable and critical of EPAā€™s ongoing failure to act despite years […]

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10
Apr

Study of Chemical Mixtures at Low Concentrations Again Finds Adverse Health Effects

(Beyond Pesticides, April 10, 2024) Researchers in a 2024 Chemosphere study find synergistic relationships in certain chemical mixtures, particularly heptachlor and triallate and trifluralin and lindane at lower concentrations, respectively. ā€œInvestigators should consider additional binary data for acute toxicity and potential chronic health impacts on these mixture…which showed synergism at low levels,ā€ the researchers conclude. ā€œAccording to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) assessment, more than 50 pesticides are detected in blood or urine samples from the US population,ā€ Researchers point to a cause for concern. The findings come as no surprise to advocates who have urged an assessment of the potential synergistic impacts of pesticide mixtures in the regulation of pesticides. Researchers ā€œused the exposure data from a complex operating site with legacy pesticide pollution to evaluate if Inhalation of pesticide mixtures released from such contaminated sites could pose a risk to human health, The component-based risk assessment approaches that rely on additivity can predict the actual risk of pesticides in a mixture, and The legacy organochlorine pesticides banned many years ago interact with registered and supposedly safe herbicides in a mixture.ā€ The study site is ā€œa pesticide packaging and handling facilityā€ contaminated with the following pesticides (ā€œhistorical and […]

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28
Mar

Maine Fund to Compensate Farmers for PFAS Contaminated Land Underscores Need for Action

(Beyond Pesticides, March 28, 2024) Last week, Maine Central reported the first application was filed for Maineā€™s first-in-the nation PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) Fund. This $70 million federal-state Fund to Address PFAS Contamination (PFAS Fund) provides compensation for commercial farmers whose health, business, and land have been impacted by PFAS contamination. A critical component of this fund enables the state to purchase contaminated farmland at fair market, pre-contamination value, which in the state of Maine hovers at approximately $3,729 per acre when including estimated market value of land and buildings, according to newly released data in the 2022 Census of Agriculture. ā€œMaine became the first state to ban sludge recycling and approve a 2030 ban on PFAS in nonessential products,ā€ according to reporting by Maine Central. The state of Maine has exhibited extraordinary leadership in prioritizing public health, ecosystems, and the environment, setting an example for addressing a widespread contamination problem at the local, state, and national level. However, advocates in Maine are raising warnings after the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, according to reporting by Portland Press Herald, proposed ā€œa compromise plan to regulate the sale of products containing forever chemicals [which] would exempt some federally regulated industries […]

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21
Mar

Hazardous Pesticide with Reproductive and Developmental Effects Enters U.S. Food Supply through Imported Food

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2024) Alarming levels of a hazardous pesticide plant growth regulator linked to reproductive and developmental effects, chlormequat, is found in 90% of urine samples in people tested, raising concerns about exposure to a chemical that has never been registered for food use in the U.S. but whose residues are permitted on imported food. Published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology in February 2024 and led by Environmental Working Group toxicologist Alexis Temkin, PhD, a pilot study finds widespread chlormequat exposure to a sampling of people from across the country. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations only permit the use of chlormequat on ornamental plants and not food crops grown in the U.S. As explained in the journal article, ā€œIn April 2018, the U.S. EPA published acceptable food tolerance levels for chlormequat chloride in imported oat, wheat, barley, and some animal products, which permitted the import of chlormequat into the U.S. food supply.ā€ In 2020, EPA increased the allowable level of chlormequat in food. Then in April 2023, EPA proposed allowing the first-ever U.S. use of chlormequat on barley, oat, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), and wheat. Existing regulatory standards explain the […]

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18
Mar

Getting Toxics Out of Food Production and Communities Requires Strong Organic Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2024) Comments are due by 11:59 pm EDT on April 3, 2024. Organic standard setting provides for democratic input, full transparency, and continuous improvement. The current public comment period is an important opportunity for the public to engage with the organic rulemaking process to ensure that the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the USDA National Organic Program uphold the values and principles set forth in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). With the threats to health, biodiversity, and climate associated with petrochemical pesticide and fertilizer use in chemical-intensive land management, advocates stress that this is critical time to keep organic strong and continually improving. Organic maintains a unique place in the food system because of its high standards, public input, inspection system, and enforcement mechanism. But, organic will only grow stronger if the public participates in voicing positions on key issues to the NOSB, a stakeholder advisory board.Ā Beyond Pesticides has identified key issues for the upcoming NOSB meeting below! The NOSB is receiving written comments from the public on key issues through April 3, 2024. This precedes the upcoming public comment webinar on April 23 and 25 and the deliberative hearing on April 29 through […]

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14
Mar

Petrochemical Pesticides, Fertilizers, and Plastics Linked to Dire Health Effects while Alternatives Are Available

Ā (Beyond Pesticides, March 14, 2024)Ā  A recent review in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) highlights the urgent need to address the widespread chemical pollution stemming from the petrochemical industry, underscoring the dire implications for public health. Tracey Woodruff, PhD, author and professor at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), emphatically states in an email comment to Beyond Pesticides, “We need to recognize the very real harm that petrochemicals are having on peopleā€™s health. Many of these fossil-fuel-based chemicals are endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with hormonal systems, and they are part of the disturbing rise in disease.” Beyond Pesticides echoes this concern, noting that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) include many pesticides and are linked to a plethora of health issues such as infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, early puberty, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinsonā€™s, Alzheimerā€™s, and childhood and adult cancers.Ā  (See Beyond Pesticidesā€™ Disease database here and news coverage here). The review further calls on the clinical community to advocate for policy changes aimed at mitigating the health threats posed by petrochemical-derived EDCs and climate change. Beyond Pesticides urgently calls for the elimination of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers and advocates for a systemic […]

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12
Mar

Study Shows the Prevalence of Toxic Pesticide Leaching into Groundwater Reserves Is an International Concern

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2024) A study released in Science of the Total Environment unpacks the threat of emerging chemicals of concern (CECs), including toxic pesticides, in the groundwater of Tunisia. Researchers highlight that the impact of pesticide drift and leaching into groundwater reserves is not siloed to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, but a key concern for most industrialized countries, including the United States. Authors of this study build on literature of CECs already conducted in the region that have broader implications for the spillover effects of pesticide regulation in broader contexts. This descriptive study and accompanying Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) demonstrate the urgency of Beyond Pesticidesā€™ mission to ban toxic petrochemical pesticides by 2032 because of the pervasiveness of toxic residues, be it pesticides, antibiotics, or other substances, from groundwater systems to human bodies. The researchers performed the tests in thirteen wells in the Grombalia shallow aquifer, an area of northeast Tunisia that feeds into the Wadi El Bay watershed, which is defined as a ā€œhigh population density [with] intensive agricultural activity [in ā€˜one of the most polluted areas in Tunisiaā€™].ā€ The researchers gathered data ā€œduring two seasons and were analyzed with two high resolution […]

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21
Dec

Low-Dose Chronic Glyphosate Exposure Increases Diet-Induced Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2023) A new study published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology adds to prior research indicating glyphosate promotes the occurrence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) through diet by causing liver inflammation and oxidative stress. More importantly, the predisposition for NAFLD occurred at levels within toxicological limits, which are doses of glyphosate classified as causing no adverse effects or No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL). NAFLD is a condition that causes swelling of the liver and can eventually lead to cirrhosis, cancer, or liver failure. This study highlights the Westernized diet (WD), comprised of foods enriched in saturated fats, cholesterol, and simple carbohydrates (e.g., fructose, glucose, and sucrose), plays a role in the nearly 40 percent increased risk of NAFLD. Although glyphosate disrupts gut microbes and induces liver inflammation, oxidative stress, and fatty acid levels that promote NAFLD, the combination of WD and glyphosate reduces the threshold risk for NAFLD development. NAFLD is a growing worldwide epidemic, becoming the most prevalent form of liver disease and impacting at leastĀ 25 percentĀ of the globe. Therefore, studies like this shed light on how diet and chemical exposure can work synergistically (together) to exacerbate disease risk. The study evaluates whether choric […]

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05
Dec

Upcoming EPA Review of Nitrates in Waterways Raises Health and Environmental Questions About Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilizer Use

Upcoming EPA Review of Nitrates in Waterways Raises Health and Environmental Questions About Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilizer Use. InĀ  a quiet reversal of a 2018 Trump administration decision, EPA is resuming an evaluation of the health impacts of nitrate in water, reflecting the long-standing and mounting evidence of synthetic nitrogenā€™s adverse effects on human health and the environment, particularly in vulnerable communities.

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09
Nov

Protection of Children from Pesticides under Threat in Farm Bill Negotiations, Data Shows

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2023) Two-hundred-foot pesticide spray ā€œbuffer zonesā€ around 4,028 U.S. elementary schools contiguous to crop fieldsā€”according to data evaluated by Environmental Working Groupā€”are threatened by potential Farm Bill amendments now under consideration. Legislative language, if adopted, would take away (preempt) the authority of states and local jurisdictions to protect children and restrict agricultural pesticides used near schools. Pesticide drift is a widespread problem throughout the U.S. that has attracted national attention in recent years because of crop damage caused by the weed killer dicamba in numerous midwestern states. In the face of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyā€™s (EPA) failure to mitigate drift hazards, states enact limits on when and how pesticides can be used, establish buffer zones around application sites, and in some cases, ban uses. In 2018,Ā Arkansas banned dicamba useĀ from mid-April through the end of October (andĀ survived a Monsanto challengeĀ to the ban. For a historical perspective on the drift issue, see Getting the Drift on Pesticide Trespass. Children, in particular, face unique risks from pesticide and toxic chemical exposures. Due to their smaller body size, they absorb a higher relative amount of pesticides through the food they consume and the air they breathe. Additionally, childrenā€™s developing […]

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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.Ā  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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23
Oct

Donā€™t Get Comfortable: Government Shutdown Exacerbates Food Safety Threats

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2023) As the immediate threat of a government shutdown has temporarily subsided, concerns are mounting over the potential threats to food safety in the United States if the government shuts down in mid-November. Experts are warning that a shutdown could jeopardize critical food safety inspections and oversight. A partial government shutdown in 2019 disrupted federal oversight of food monitoring for various pathogens and pesticides, as labs were shuttered, with agency employees furloughed. See Beyond Pesticideā€™s reporting about food safety risks during the last government shutdown. However, it should be noted that residues of pesticides in food continue to raise concerns about safety of food grown in chemical-intensive (conventional) farming operations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) contingency plans dictate that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continue its regulatory inspection of meat, poultry, and egg products, as mandated by law. However, it is important to note that the FSIS will operate with a reduced workforce, with a portion of employees deemed “essential personnel” for food safety operations. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is also preparing for a potential shutdown. According to HHS’s contingency […]

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11
Oct

Rachel Carson Conservation Park Faces Controversy Over Toxic Herbicide Spraying

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2023) Rachel Carson Conservation Park, a 650-acre conservation area in Montgomery County, Maryland, named in honor of the renowned scientist and author Rachel Carson, is now at the center of a controversy surrounding the use of toxic herbicides. Ms. Carson played a pivotal role in raising awareness about the harmful ecosystem and human health effects of pesticides that led to the banning of DDT. Environmentalists and concerned citizens have raised alarm over the recent spraying of ā€œinvasive weedsā€ with Garlon 3A, a powerful herbicide, within the park’s boundaries. Concern about pesticide use in Montgomery County is complicated by competing jurisdictions and restrictions within the county, and highlights the stark difference between nontoxic organic practices and pesticide-dependent Integrated Pest Management. (See more below on Montgomery County land management policy for local parks.) According to the Montgomery County website: ā€œMontgomery County Parks [Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission or M-NCPPC] are a State agency. M-NCPPC operates under an integrated pest management plan (IPM). Montgomery Parks manages all playgrounds, community gardens and common lawn areas within local parks without the use of pesticides. In 2016, Montgomery Parks designated ten pesticide-free parks. In September 2019, the program expanded to 45 […]

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03
Oct

Chicago PCBs Lawsuit Seeks Pesticide Corporationā€™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. Ā  PCBs are identified as “forever chemicals” due to their environmental persistence. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these chemicals ā€œdo not readily break down once in the environment.ā€ They cycle through air, soil, and water and can travel long distances, with PCBs found worldwide.Ā  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.Ā  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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28
Sep

Beyond Pesticides Celebrates the 50th Birthday of the Endangered Species Act

(Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2023) As the United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), there is a growing recognition that the planet faces an existential biodiversity crisis, with a rising number of species on the brink of extinction. In a collective effort to address threats to global biodiversity (i.e. diversity of all life), a coalition of environmental organizations including Beyond Pesticides, are sending an urgent letter to President Joe Biden. This letter, titled “Meeting the Challenges of the Biodiversity and Extinction Crisis Over the Next 50 Years,” calls for bold and comprehensive action to preserve our planet’s natural heritage for future generations. The ESA is celebrated as one of the most effective conservation laws globally, credited with preventing the extinction of 99 percent of listed species. Over the past five decades, the ESA has played a pivotal role in preventing these extinctions by safeguarding the most critically endangered species within biological communities. However, this concentration on highly threatened species often results in temporary solutions that may not comprehensively address the broader issue of biodiversity loss. The ESA establishes a framework to categorize species as “endangered” or “threatened,” granting them specific protections. While it is crucial […]

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05
Sep

ā€œLegalized Poisoning of 5,500 Peopleā€ Message Highlights Controversy Over Aerial Pesticide Spray in Oregon

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2023) Lincoln County, OregonĀ  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).Ā  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.Ā  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 ā€œlegalized poisoning of 5,500 peopleā€ 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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15
Aug

The Ultimate Buzz Kill – Officials Find Pesticides in Marijuanaā€¦ Again

(Beyond Pesticides, August 14, 2023) Marijuana regulators in the state of Washington issued administrative holds on 18 licenses due to pesticide-contaminated marijuana, forcing producers and processors to cease operations until now. This shutdown of legal marijuana businesses serves as a window into a broader historical backdrop of pesticide issues within the marijuana industry. Within Washington, pesticide concerns have been growing since a study in 2018 of legal marijuana farms in the state had 84.6% (of 26 samples) with significant quantities of pesticides including insecticides, fungicides, miticides, and herbicides. Last year, a national study identified a list of contaminants in 36 states and the District of Columbia and found 551 pesticides within cannabis products. For over a decade, Beyond Pesticides has sounded the alarm about the highly-concentrated levels of pesticides in marijuana products, calling on state officials to require organic marijuana, especially in the context of medical marijuana. The absence of federal regulations for pesticides in cannabis production has raised significant concerns about exposure risks for recreational and medicinal use, exposure risks to workers, and potential environmental contamination impacting wildlife. Since marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act, the EPA does not regulate pesticides in […]

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03
Aug

Reflections: ā€œI’m a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world. Life in plastic is [NOT] fantasticā€

Itā€™s hard to escape the impacts of the Barbie movieā€™s estimated $150 million marketing campaign. You may have noticed advertisements with Burger Kingā€™s pink burgers to Airbnbā€™s Barbie Dreamhouse. Perhaps you have seen viral memes or news stories about the movieā€™s takedown of the patriarchy or critiques that the movie is overly woke. The pink symbol of Barbie is often followed by a second symbol ā€” plastic. The total mass of plastics on Earth now doubles the total mass of all living mammals, so would Barbie say life is fantastic? Or, might she urge the National Organic Standards Board to ban plastic mulch, an issue on the agenda at the Boardā€™s upcoming October meeting? Plastic products, including those used in chemical-intensive and organic agriculture, and pesticides, play a seemingly necessary role in modern life, encompassing many items beyond straws and grocery bags. However, the convenience of plastic comes at a considerable cost to the planet and human health. The majority of plastics are manufactured using oil and gas, exacerbating climate change. Scientists are becoming increasingly alarmed by the repercussions of microplastics, which are plastic particles smaller than 5 mm in size. In 2022, Philip Landrigan, M.D., et al., announced the […]

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19
Jul

45% of U.S. Tap Water Is Contaminated with PFAS, According to USGS Survey

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2023) A study in Environment International (August issue) by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) finds that almost half of U.S. tap water is contaminated with PFAS chemicals, with measured concentrations in both private wells and public water sources. Authors of the study ā€œestimate that at least one PFAS could be detected in about 45% of U.S. drinking-water samples.ā€ Although there are more than 12,000 different types of PFAS, only 32 are detectable by USGS lab tests, so 45% is likely a low estimate.Ā  Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals found in a variety of common household products such as nonstick pans and stain resistant carpeting, as well as pesticides and biosolids used as fertilizer. Long-chain PFAS, such as PFOA and PFOS, are more widely known because of their high toxicity and controversial use in the past. Today, long-chain PFAS are often replaced with short-chain PFAS, as the latter are not as bioaccumulative; however, short-chained PFAS also pose a significant threat because they remain highly persistent in the environment. Past Beyond Pesticidesā€™ articles have described the prevalence of PFAS in products as well as their negative health consequences, including cancer, decreased fertility, […]

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29
Jun

Industrial Chemical Giants in PFAS Water Contamination Case Agree to $1.185 Billion Settlement

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2023) In the first major settlement amid an influx of PFAS litigation, industrial chemical giants DuPont, Chemours, and Corteva will pay $1.185 billion dollars to cities and towns across the U.S. to cover the cost of PFAS remediation and monitoring in public drinking water systems. The significance of this nationwide class-action settlement cannot be overstated, as citizens have battled powerful chemical corporations for decades with limited success. Dangerous toxicants have been indiscriminately discharged into the environment by chemical companies since the mid-1900s, and the PFAS litigation is important in the companyā€™s acceptance of responsibility for contamination. Of course, the damage to health and the environment is incalculable, given the pervasive environmental contamination and poisoning that it has caused, and additional lawsuits are pending, with more expected. Advocates maintain that this case exemplifies the inadequacies of regulatory controls that do a poor job of capturing the long-term effects of chemicals before being introduced into the market and a worse job of questioning the essentiality of toxic substances for which there are alternative practices and products. PFAS bring into sharp focus the legacy of chemical contamination and the impact on Ā future generationsā€”a problem well-documented with pesticides like DDT […]

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