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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'contamination' Category


24
Sep

U.S. Geological Survey Finds Mixtures of Pesticides Are Widespread in U.S. Rivers and Streams

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2020) A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project, reveals the presence of pesticides is widespread in U.S. rivers and streams, with over almost 90 percent of water samples containing at least five or more different pesticides. Pesticide contamination in waterways is historically commonplace as a 1998 USGS analysis revealed pesticides are commonly found in all U.S. waterways, with at least one pesticide detectable. Thousands of tons of pesticides enter rivers and streams around the U.S. from agricultural and nonagricultural sources, which contaminate essential drinking water sources, such as surface water and groundwater. As the number of pesticides in waterways increases, it has detrimental impacts on aquatic ecosystem health, especially as some pesticides work synergistically with others to increase the severity of the effect. Reports like these are a significant tool in determining appropriate regulatory action to protect human, animal, and environmental health. USGS concludes, “Identification of primary contributors to toxicity could aid efforts to improve the quality of rivers and streams to support aquatic life.” Water is the most abundant and important chemical compound on earth, essential to survival and the main component of all living things. Less than three percent of that water […]

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17
Sep

Fashion Killer: Report Finds that the Apparel Industry is a Major Contributor to Biodiversity Loss

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2020) The apparel industry becomes the latest contributor to global biodiversity loss, directly linking soil degradation, natural ecosystems destruction, and environmental pollution with apparel supply chains, according to the report, “Biodiversity: The next frontier in sustainable fashion,” by McKinsey & Company. Although there are many studies on the fashion industry’s impact on climate change, much less research discusses the impact the industry has on biodiversity. The globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk of extinction. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to hold the fashion industry accountable for the direct (i.e., excessive agrochemical use, water consumption) and indirect (i.e., water pollution from run-off) impacts on the environment, not only to protect the well-being of animals, but humans, as well. Researchers in the study note, “We expect biodiversity to become an even greater concern for consumers and investors in the coming years. Covid-19, instead of slowing the trend, has accelerated it—perhaps because people now understand more deeply that human and animal ecosystems are interdependent. It’s time for the apparel industry, which to date has contributed heavily […]

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15
Sep

Primates, Both Wild and Captive, Are Being Exposed to Toxic Pesticides and Flame Retardants

(Beyond Pesticides, September 15, 2020) Both wild and captive primates are being exposed to hazardous pesticides and flame retardants, according to research published this month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. This is the first study to look at the threat anthropogenic (man-made) chemicals may present for this important order of animals. “We think a lot about habitat disturbance, logging, and hunting as threats to these species, while pollution has been overlooked,” study co-author Michael Wasserman, told Environmental Health News (EHN). Scientists conducted their research by first obtaining fecal samples from three distinct primate populations: captive baboons from an Indiana zoo, wild howler monkeys from a research station in Costa Rica, and wild chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, and red colobus monkeys from a Ugandan national park. Samples were then tested for a range of chemicals, including 50 pesticides, and nearly 70 flame retardants. Scientists discovered legacy pesticides (such as heptachlor, DDT, hexachlorohexane, chlordane, and related compounds) in every species tested, with the highest levels found in red colobus and red-tailed monkeys. In particular, DDT and its related compounds (DDD and DDE) were found to be widespread, with red colobus monkeys registering a median of 260 ppb DDE in its waste. […]

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10
Sep

Pesticides and Heavy Metals Found in Blunt (Cigar) Wrappers, Cellulose-Based Rolling Papers, and other Plant-based Rolling Paper Products

(Beyond Pesticides, September 10, 2020) A new analysis by Science of Cannabis Laboratories Inc. (SC Labs) finds detectable concentrations of pesticides and heavy metals in rolling papers, with hemp/blunt wraps and cellulose-based rolling papers containing the highest levels of contaminants. The analysis follows a SC Labs’ finding of high levels of chlorpyrifos—a neurotoxic, organophosphate insecticide—in the rolling paper of pre-rolled cannabis, which was undergoing compliance testing. Although the rolling paper regulations generally track standards for toxic tobacco products (which means there is very little meaningful regulation), the rolling paper use with cannabis may add an addition layer of scrutiny since some statewide cannabis regulations and independent certifications adhere to stricter guidelines similar to organic practices. Researchers note the goals of the experiment “were to assess the exposure risks to the consumer as well as identify any potential liabilities for cannabis producers who use these products to make their pre-roll products.” This report, and others like it, are significant as cannabis use expands in in the U.S. and around the world, and given that one of the most popular ways to consume cannabis product is as a rolled cigarette. Study author and president of SC Labs Josh Wurzer, Ph.D., said, “This [issue] is something that cannabis and paper […]

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20
Aug

Arctic Glaciers Entrap Pesticides and Other Environmental Pollutants from Global Drift and Release Hazardous Chemicals as They Melt from Global Warming

(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2020) Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including banned and current-use pesticides are present in snow and ice on top of Arctic glaciers, according to the study, “Atmospheric Deposition of Organochlorine Pesticides and Industrial Compounds to Seasonal Surface Snow at Four Glacier Sites on Svalbard, 2013–2014,” published in Environmental Science & Technology. Past research finds that air contaminated with these environmentally bioaccumulative, toxic chemicals drift toward the poles, becoming entrapped in ice under the accumulating snowfall. As the global climate continues to rise and the climate crisis worsens, studies like this become significant, as glaciers encapsulating these toxic chemicals are melting. Upon melting, some chemicals can volatize back into the atmosphere releasing toxicants into air and aquatic systems, with the ensuing consequences. Although this research demonstrates that specific computer programs can track the trajectory of chemically contaminated air parcels with practical precision, it falls to global leaders to curtail the continued manufacturing of these chemical pollutants. [For related pieces, see Silent Snow: The unimaginable impact of toxic chemical use and DDT in Glacial Melt Puts Alaskan Communities at Risk.] Countless scientists consider Arctic environments to be “pristine,” void of direct chemical inputs from pesticides and other POPs. However, the Arctic has become a sink for […]

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16
Jul

Health and Behavioral Development of Beneficial Black Garden Ants Stunted by Low Levels of Pesticide Exposure in Soils

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2020) Long-term exposure to sublethal (low-level) concentrations of the neonicotinoid in soil negatively affects the health and behavioral development of black garden ants (Lasius niger) colonies, according to a study published in Communications Biology by scientists at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Ants are one of the most biologically significant insects in the soil ecosystem, acting as ecosystem engineers. Their burrowing behavior aerates the soil, allowing oxygen and water to penetrate down to plant roots. Additionally, ants increase soil nutrient levels by importing and accumulating organic material like food and feces, thus enhancing nutrient cycling. Like many other insects, ants are unfortunate victims of the global insect apocalypse or population decline, and much research attributes the recent decline to several, including pesticide exposure. Broad-spectrum pesticides, like neonicotinoids, indiscriminately kill pests and nontarget organisms alike, as their ubiquitous use contaminates soils, even in untreated areas. This study highlights the necessity of rethinking chemical pest management, developing sustainable agricultural practices that reduce the use of agrochemicals, like pesticides, to prevent permanent environmental ecosystem damage. Researchers in the study note, “To prevent irreparable damages to functioning ecosystems, [we] suggest to either fully incorporate long-term effects in risk assessment schemes, or to make a shift […]

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09
Jul

From Udder to Table: Toxic Pesticides Found in Conventional Milk, Not Organic Milk

(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2020) Conventional U.S. milk contains growth hormones, antibiotics, and low to elevated levels of pesticides not found in organic milk, according to a study published in the journal of Public Health Nutrition by Emory University researchers. Milk can bioaccumulate certain organic pollutants, making it a valuable medium to assess what chemical we might be ingesting daily. With milk being one of the most consumed beverages in the U.S., in addition to its use in other popular drinks (i.e., coffee and tea), this study discloses widespread contamination and highlights the need for improved regulation. Researchers in the study note, “To our knowledge, the present study is the first study to compare levels of pesticide in the U.S. milk supply by production method (conventional vs. organic). It is also the first in a decade to measure antibiotic and hormone levels and compare them by milk production type.”  The market for conventional milk, produced in chemical-intensive agriculture, is declining, but the demand for organic milk is increasing due to concerns over chemical contamination in consumer products from pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits for pesticide residues in food products, the agency […]

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28
May

Occupational Exposure to Pesticides, and Other Environmental Chemicals Increase Risk of Developing ALS

(Beyond Pesticides, May 28, 2020) Exposure to agricultural and industrial pesticides, solvents (thinners), electromagnetic fields, and heavy metals predispose humans to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to an Italian research study, “Environmental and Occupational Risk Factors of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Population-Based Case-Control Study,” published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Although research supports ALS’s genetic etiology, epidemiologic research associating ALS risks and to environmental, or work-related risk factors (i.e., pesticide use, pollutant exposure, heavy metal exposure, etc.) has been inconsistent and non-definitive. This research demonstrates the importance of assessing aggregate health risks associated with occupational pesticide exposure, especially when determining potential exposure routes in specific occupational sectors. In the study, researchers note, “In particular, having an occupation in the agricultural sector, especially with a long duration of the working activity as well as occupational exposure to some chemicals…might increase ALS risk.” While scientists extensively study the epidemiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—a rare, yet fatal neurodegenerative disease—occupational and environmental hazards inducing random (sporadic) or hereditary ALS diagnoses remain vague. With researchers predicting a global ALS incidence increase of 69% by 2040, identifying ALS’s causal factors are important to future research. In this research, Italian researchers conducted a case-control, […]

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14
May

DDT Metabolite (DDE) and Other Banned Pesticides Found in Blood Sample of African American Women in Detroit

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2020) Four banned organochlorine pesticides (OCP) are present in over 60% of a cohort of reproductive-age, black women in Detroit, according to a study published in Environmental Research by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH). OCPs are lipophilic (fat combining/dissolving), environmentally steadfast chemicals linked to harmful health effects. This study stresses the importance of monitoring pesticide accumulation, particularly regarding environmentally persistent chemicals and their metabolization via indirect exposure routes. Lead author Olivia Orta, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Epidemiology at BUSPH, highlights the significance of water monitoring—especially in light of historically disproportionately high hazards for people of color (e.g., Flint, Michigan)—and testing sources prone to OCP contamination. She remarks, “The sources that we identified as potential OCP correlates should be tested for pesticide contamination,[…] especially drinking water.” Environmental contaminants, like organochlorine pesticides (OCP), can persist in the environment decades after use stops, as OCPs have greater chemical stability and gradual attenuation. Minority populations are at higher exposure risk of environmental contaminants (i.e., pesticide) exposure that can catalyze adverse health and birth effects, especially in metropolitan areas. Although black women endure higher body burdens than other U.S. populations, there remains a lack of research surrounding the association. Boston University researchers enrolled […]

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07
May

Court Requires EPA to Respond to Petition to Ban Toxic Pesticide in Pet Products

(Beyond Pesticides, May 7, 2020) On April 22, 2020, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals granted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 90 days to respond to Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) petition requesting cancellation of tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), a toxic organophosphate pesticide in pet products. The order followed the Ninth Circuit’s decision to grant NRDC’s petition for a writ of mandamus (a court’s order requiring a lower court or public authority to perform its statutory duty) as EPA withheld action to fulfill NRDC’s judicial review of TCVP, for over a decade. A favorable ruling on NRDC’s mandamus petition can influence other petitioners that hope to coerce agency action, especially when public health is at risk. The court states, “Repeatedly, the EPA has kicked the can down the road and betrayed its prior assurances of timely action, even as it has acknowledged that the pesticide poses widespread, serious risks to the neurodevelopmental health of children.” NRDC petitioned EPA to cancel TCVP pesticide registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in April 2009, after studies indicated humans absorb TCVP through contact with pesticide-treated pet products. EPA failed to respond to the initial petition after five years, and NRDC filed a 2014 mandamus requiring […]

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06
May

Trump EPA Waives Requirement to Monitor Waterways for Hazardous Weedkiller

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2020) The Trump Administration announced late last month that it is waiving a requirement that multinational chemical company Syngenta-Chemchina continue to monitor Midwest waterways for the presence of the weedkiller atrazine throughout 2020. While rationalized by the Administration as “due to the unanticipated impact of Covid-19,” the move will instead put residents health at increased risk. Atrazine is one of 78 pesticides that has been linked to the development of respiratory ailments like wheeze. “The public will now have no idea whether dangerous levels of atrazine are reaching rivers and streams throughout the Midwest. That’s absurd and reckless,” said Nathan Donley, PhD a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Syngenta should suspend the sale and use of this extremely toxic pesticide until it can safely ensure it’s not polluting Corn Belt waterways.” Syngenta, which merged with state-owned China Nation Chemical Corporation (Chemchina) in 2016, has been bound by EPA to monitor Midwestern waterways since a 2004 review by the agency. This is because atrazine is a potent groundwater contaminant. Just two years ago, an analysis by the Environmental Working Group found atrazine to be exceeding legal limits in drinking water for many Midwestern states. […]

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27
Feb

Report Finds Top Chemical Companies Making Billions Off Poisoning the Earth

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2020) A new report finds that as birds and pollinators continue to decline, and chronic diseases remain on the rise, the global agrichemical industry is raking in billions of dollars from hazardous pesticides that contribute to these crises. A joint investigation from Unearthed and Public Eye finds that 35% of pesticide sales from the largest agrichemical corporations are made from the most toxic pesticides on the market. Pesticide production was a $57.6 billion market in 2018, according to the report. While the profits of the industry are privatized, the public health and environmental effects are broad. Studies conducted over the last decade show that the impacts of hazardous pesticide use dwarf the market for these chemicals. The impact of pesticides on public health results in a drag on the economy. Earlier this year, research from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine found that children’s exposure to organophosphate insecticides was estimated to result in over 26 million lost IQ points and over 110,000 cases of intellectual disability, totaling roughly $735 billion in economic costs each year. A 2019 study from the same scientists determined that endocrine disrupting chemicals, including organophosphates and organochlorine pesticides, were attributable […]

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30
Jan

Croplands’ Toxicity to Pollinators Has Skyrocketed Since the Turn of the Century

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2020) The practice of coating seeds with insecticides, now widely adopted as a result of the agrichemical industry, has created increasingly toxic conditions for pollinators foraging on US cropland, finds a study published in Scientific Reports by Penn State University scientists. The data finds that even as overall volume of insecticide use has decreased, the total “bee toxic load” – a term branded by researchers – has increased markedly due in large part to the use of hazardous seed coatings. The switch from one toxic chemical to another is indicative of a chemically-driven agricultural system that, in order to reverse insect, pollinator and bird declines, must undergo rapid changes over the next several decades. Researchers used information from multiple US databases to determine regional patterns in pesticide use and corresponding toxicity loads to pollinators. Thus the term “bee toxic load” was determined by combining the area of land where insecticides were applied with the total toxicity of the particular insecticide used. To compare the impact of changes in the mode of action of the insecticides used, toxicity data was separated between oral and contact toxicity.    Findings indicate that from 1997-2012, contact bee toxic load remained […]

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17
Dec

South Asian Immigrants Exposed to DDT at Higher Risk of Diabetes

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2019) South Asian immigrants to the U.S. may be at increased risk of diabetes due to prior exposure to high levels of DDT, research published by the University of California Davis earlier this month indicates. The study highlights a blind spot for health care in the U.S., researchers say. “Our findings evoke a new interpretation of Rachel Carson’s famous book Silent Spring, in that the high DDT exposures of South Asian immigrants in the U.S. currently fall on deaf ears in the U.S.,” said lead author Michele La Merrill, PhD an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Environmental Toxicology. “Although DDT remains in use in other nations and migration globalizes these exposures, people in the U.S. often mistakenly regard DDT exposure as no longer relevant to our society due to its ban in this country nearly 50 years ago.” When compared to other race and ethnic groups, South Asian immigrants (individuals from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan), are at greater risk of developing diabetes, even when adjusting for potential confounders such as age and obesity. Authors of the study hypothesized that this was a result of past exposure to high levels […]

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24
Oct

Study Adds to Evidence that Organic Fruit Consumption Leads to Lowers Levels of Pesticide Contamination in Children, Pregnant Women

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2019) Fish and fruit are undoubtedly healthy foods, but modern-day contamination is leading scientists to caution pregnant mothers and young children to stick within current dietary guidelines, or switch to organic, in order to avoid adverse health effects. This new public health message is based on research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by scientists from University of Southern California (USC) and several European Countries, finding that overconsumption of fish and fruits leads to higher levels of contamination with toxic persistent chemicals. “During gestation and early development, the fetus and the child, respectively, are vulnerable to the effects of environmental chemicals, said Lida Chatzi, MD, associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “A balanced diet during these periods is also critical for optimal nutritional status, but what to eat, and how much, are critical questions.” Scientists studied a cohort of 1,288 children (between 6 and 11 years) and 818 pregnant mothers from six European countries, who were provided questionnaires to assess their weekly diet. Blood levels of a range of environmental toxicants, including organochlorine compounds like PCB, PFHSs, PFOS, PFOA, pesticides like DDT and DDE, and heavy metals including […]

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12
Mar

Deadly Dioxin, An Agent Orange By-Product, Continues to Contaminate Vietnam

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2019) Fifty years after the end of the Vietnam War, the Agent Orange byproduct dioxin continues to contaminate Vietnam’s soils and wildlife, and subsequently affect human health. In their review, scientists at Iowa State and the University of Illinois focus on the locations where hot spots and contaminated sediments have persisted after 130,000 fifty-five gallons drums of toxic herbicides were sprayed over Vietnam’s farm fields and jungle canopies during the war. “Existing Agent Orange and dioxin research is primarily medical in nature, focusing on the details of human exposure primarily through skin contact and long-term health effects on U.S. soldiers,” says Ken Olson, PhD, co-author on the article. “In this paper, we examine the short and long-term environmental effects on the Vietnamese natural resource base and how persistence of dioxin continues to affect soils, water, sediment, fish, aquatic species, the food supply, and Vietnamese health.” While public attention has generally focused on the “rainbow herbicides,” such as Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam war, it is the dioxin TCDD (2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzodioxin), a byproduct of Agent Orange’s manufacturing process, that has caused the most lasting damage within the country. While the breakdown period for Agent Orange herbicides 2,4-D […]

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22
Feb

Fighting for the Environmental Rights of Lake Erie with a Creative Legal Strategy

(Beyond Pesticides, February 22, 2019) Lake Erie, the 11th largest freshwater lake in the world, is once again plagued with pollution, although in this decade it is due primarily to agricultural runoff — as opposed to the raw sewage and industrial effluents that afflicted it in the mid-20th century. Concerned and weary Toledo, Ohio residents are seeking remedies through the adoption of a ballot initiative, “Lake Erie Bill of Rights,” that will go before local voters this month. It asks: should Lake Erie, as an entity, have the legal right “to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve”? The New York Times reported on this unusual ballot question, which asks whether the lake ought to be granted rights more typically ascribed to people. If the measure passes, people would be able to sue polluters on behalf of the lake, using the argument that Lake Erie’s rights had been violated. Fifty years ago, prior to the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act, U.S. water bodies, including the Great Lakes and their tributaries, were in big trouble. One of Lake Erie’s tributaries — the Cuyahoga River — became infamous for literally catching fire due to the sewage and industrial waste that were freely dumped into it. […]

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10
Jan

Take Action: Stop Antibiotic Use in Citrus Production, Leading to Life-Threatening Illness

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2019) The Trump administration is opening the floodgates to allow widespread use of antibiotics in citrus (grapefruits, oranges and tangerines) production, expanding on an emergency use decision it made in 2017. The public has an opportunity to comment on the widespread use of streptomycin by January 19, 2019. You can comment on the federal government’s public comment page (regulations.gov) by leaving a comment opposing any additional use of antibiotics in food production during a national and international crisis of deadly disease resistance to antibiotics. You can copy Beyond Pesticides’ prepared comment below and add your own concerns. Strikingly, the decision allows for up to 480,000 acres of citrus trees in Florida to be treated with more than 650,000 pounds of streptomycin per year, and 23,000 citrus acres in California will likely be treated annually. The two approved antibacterial chemicals to be used as a pesticide in citrus production are streptomycin and oxytetracycline. These uses were permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under an emergency exemption in May, 2017, allowing residues of antibiotics in Florida orange juice, for the antibiotics streptomycin and oxytetracycline –allowing their use for a bacterial disease, citrus greening (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) bacterium that causes Huanglongbing), […]

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21
Dec

Blackberry Leaves Decompose to Thwart Mosquito Breeding

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2019) A study at the University of Maine (UMaine) finds that adding blackberry leaf litter in stormwater catch basins creates an “ecological trap,” enticing mosquito females to lay eggs in sites unsuitable for larvae survival. Employing this new and incredibly viable “attract-and-kill’ tool for mosquito control shows potential for preventing the breeding of mosquitoes that may carry insect-borne diseases, especially in urban environments. Stormwater catch basins regularly accumulate leaf litter, which serve as habitat for the mosquito species Culex pipiens (Cx. Pipiens) that may carry West Nile virus. Previous University of Maine research discovered decomposing leaf litter from Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and common blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) produces chemical compounds that attracts and stimulates Cx. Pipiens female to oviposit, or lay eggs. Investigating the attractiveness and lethality of varying catch basin conditions to mosquitoes, researchers hypothesized that blackberry leaf litter could be shown to be lethal to developing mosquito larvae, and, therefore, act as a natural ecological trap for Cx. Pipiens. Five varying treatments were applied to a total 50 catch basins. Treatments included (1) all debris dredged weekly throughout the duration of the study, (2) no change to debris naturally occurring in catch basins, (3) […]

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13
Dec

U.S. Asks World Trade Organization to Force Lower International Safety Standards

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2018) The U.S. is pushing back against international standards that restrict pesticides by appealing to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to intervene. At issue are new EU maximum residue levels (MRLs) on food for the following pesticides: buprofezin, diflubenzuron, ethoxysulfurom, ioxynil, molinate, picoxystrobin and tepraloxydim. Advocates are concerned that a U.S. challenge to stronger EU standards could cause the WTO to force a weakening of standards internationally. Most significantly, EU proposed lowering its MRLs on imports. The EU said lower MRLs are needed to protect consumers, as research shows pesticides are shown to be carcinogenic, and that, contrary to chemical-industry claims, no level of allowable exposures can be assumed. Taking issue with the new MRLs – as with all other STCs mentioned above – the U.S. said new MRLs would cause barriers to trade, and therefore, must be rejected by the WTO. Advocates point to the introduction of GMOs as an example of the U.S. using the WTO to block standards that restrict potentially hazardous products. Recently, the U.S. has been involved in four of five new specific trade concerns (STCs) raised before WTO. As part of reviewing the current agreement of the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary […]

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30
Nov

Multiple Pesticide Residues in Soil Raise Alarm

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2018) A study published this month in Science of the Total Environment reveals numerous pesticide residues persisting in soil, harming the viability of agricultural lands and increasing risk of off-site contamination. Funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission, researchers from the European Diverfarming project at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands suggest nations urgently reevaluate conventional land use and inputs including water, energy, fertilizers, machinery and pesticides. Researchers decrying the lack of soil protection policies endeavored to determine which pesticides had the highest soil persistence and toxicity to non-target species. Three hundred seventeen surface soil samples were analyzed from 11 European countries. Selected countries were those with the largest amounts of active agricultural land, characterizing six distinct cropping systems. Sampled soils purposefully represented different soil properties and were taken from crops with the highest pesticide use per hectare. Samples were then analyzed for the concentration of 76 pesticide residues. These 76 pesticides were selected as being most often applied on conventional crops. Eighty-three percent of samples contained varying degrees of pesticide residues, with 25 percent showing one pesticide residue and 58 percent showing mixtures of two or more. Only 17 percent of […]

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21
Nov

Beekeepers at Risk of Losing Hives after Mosquito Insecticide Spraying

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2018) A study published last month in the Journal of Apicultural Research finds significant numbers of U.S. honey bees at risk after exposure to hazardous synthetic pesticides intended to control mosquitoes. With many beekeepers rarely given warning of insecticide spraying, researchers say the risk of losing colonies could increase. Advocates say fear of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses could result in counterproductive and reactionary insecticide spraying that will add further stress to managed and native pollinators already undergoing significant declines. Researchers aimed to determine whether neighboring honey bee colonies could be similarly affected by aerial insecticide spraying. To calculate the percentage of colonies that could be affected, density of honey bee colonies by county was compared with projections of conditions thought to be prone to regional Zika virus outbreaks. Researchers found 13 percent of U.S. beekeepers at risk of losing colonies from Zika spraying. In addition, it was determined that many regions of the U.S. best suited for beekeeping are also those with favorable conditions for Zika-prone mosquitoes to proliferate. These regions include the southeast, the Gulf Coast, and California’s Central Valley. “[Considering] all the threats facing bees,” says study lead author Lewis Bartlett of the […]

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08
Nov

Study Confirms Chemical-Intensive Production Contaminates Organic with Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, November 8, 2018) Two months after publishing its first series of tests, part two of an Environmental Working Group (EWG) study finds residues of Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, in all General Mills’ Cheerios and PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats products sampled. Health advocates are expressing concern about the consequences of chronic glyphosate exposure, and say U.S. federal agencies must limit the herbicide’s use on oat-based breakfast foods regularly marketed to children. In addition, organic itself is under threat, as chemical-intensive management practices undermine the future of the growing organic movement. In this second round of testing, EWG scientists purchased products around San Francisco and Washington DC. 28 samples of conventional and 16 samples of organic oat products were collected. Approximately 300 grams of each General Mills and PepsiCo product were packaged and shipped to Anresco Laboratories, in San Francisco. Detected glyphosate residues were compared to EWG’s own health benchmark of 160 parts per billion (ppb). This benchmark is based on risks of lifetime exposure and what EWG scientists consider allowable and protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.  EWG’s results detected glyphosate residues in all 28 samples of conventionally grown oat products. The vast majority (all but two) […]

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