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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Disease/Health Effects' Category


02
Jan

Is Your Yoga Mat or Gym Breeding Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria?

(Beyond Pesticides, January 2, 2019) The “indoor microbiome” of yoga studios and other athletic facilities often contain significant levels of antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, which show up in dust and breed antibiotic resistance, according to research published last month in the journal mSystems. Triclosan may be banned from hand soaps, but its continued use in a myriad of other products, from disinfectant sprays to impregnated clothing, yoga mats, and other work-out equipment makes it difficult to avoid this now-ubiquitous chemical. This is a public health concern because these antibacterial or antimicrobial chemicals are link to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance kills over 23,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition to the CDC, the World Health Organization has cited this escalating problem as become one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Many people may suspect their gym or yoga study is not a germ-free location, but attempts to address these germs through antibacterial sprays or impregnated yoga mats and other surfaces, may be exacerbating the issue—doing much more harm than good. The continued detection of triclosan and its impacts at new and unexpected locations are feeding renewed calls for a complete ban on […]

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20
Dec

New Developments in the Link Between Parkinson’s and Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, December 20, 2018) Using low doses of the herbicide paraquat and common proteins found in food called lectins, researchers were able to recreate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in rats. Results of this study, published in the journal Parkinson’s disease, provide scientists with fresh insights into the development of the disease, and a new model to test potential remedies. Paraquat, a neurotoxic herbicide with a well-established body of literature linking it to Parkinson’s disease, is currently undergoing a registration review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and groups like the Michael J Fox Foundation are calling for its ban. Researchers based their study on the Braak Staging hypothesis of Parkinson’s, which posits that the disease is brought on by foreign agents entering the body through the gut or nose and making their way to the brain. Rats were exposed to low doses of paraquat combined with lectin every day for a week. After two weeks, the animals’ motor function was tested and compared to an unexposed control group. Rats exposed to lectin and paraquat exhibited Parkinson-like symptoms. Primary author R. Alberto Travagli, PhD, notes, “After observing that these animals did indeed show symptoms of Parkinsonism, we wanted to […]

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17
Dec

Cardiovascular Disease Linked to Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, December 17, 2018) Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of poor health and mortality across the world. Much is known about congenital and behavioral contributors to the disease, yet to date, little research has focused on potential environmental factors, including the possible contribution to cardiovascular disease (CVD) of exposures to toxic chemicals in the workplace. A recent study of CVD incidence among Hispanic and Latino workers, by Catherine Bulka, PhD, et al., has evaluated associations of self-reported exposures to organic solvents, metals, and pesticides with CVD. The study was published in the journal Heart on December 11, 2018, and is first to evaluate the role of chemical exposures in the workplace in the incidence of CVD in this demographic sector. As do many scientific investigations, this one points to a need for further study of the links that emerged between such exposures and compromised cardiovascular health. In an editorial in that same issue of Heart, commenting on the study, Dr. Karin Broberg of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, noted that “exposure to metals and pesticides is common worldwide, and this study highlights the need to better understand the risks that these exposures cause, and to limit exposure in the […]

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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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06
Dec

Endocrine Disrupting Herbicide, Atrazine, Exceeds Legal Limits in Midwest

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2018) A recent analysis of annual drinking water quality reports has revealed that many community drinking water systems in the Midwest have seasonal exceedances of the allowable limit for the herbicide atrazine. Atrazine, linked to endocrine disruption, neuropathy, and cancer, is the second most widely used pesticide in corn growing areas, with over 73 million pounds applied to agricultural fields each year.  A 2009 study by Paul Winchester, MD, professor of clinical pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and a neonatologist at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis, linked birth defects to time of conception, with the greatest impact on children conceived when concentrations of atrazine and other pesticides are highest in the local drinking water. (See Reproductive Effects Peak with Pesticide Exposure.) During peak use, atrazine levels in drinking water have been recorded at three to seven times above the legal limit. In addition to the well documented impact on the environment, recent  studies have linked prolonged pesticide exposure to not only shortened gestation and preterm birth for women, but also neurodevelopment delays in children. Ultimately, these unreported seasonal peaks may result in persistent adverse health impacts in impacted communities. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), enacted in 1974, […]

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04
Dec

California Criticized for Adopting Inadequate Measures to Restrict the Highly Toxic Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2018) In mid-November, the state whose agricultural operations used more than 900,000 pounds of chlorpyrifos in 2016 (down from two million pounds in 2005) moved to establish some temporary restrictions on its use. Regulators at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) issued interim restrictions on the compound while the agency works on a formal regulatory process to list chlorpyrifos as a “toxic air contaminant” and develop permanent restrictions on its use. A neurological toxicant, chlorpyrifos damages the brains of young children: impacts of exposure, even at very low levels, include decreased cognitive function, lowered IQ, attention deficit disorder, and developmental and learning delays. It was slated to be banned for food uses by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year, but the decision was reversed by the Trump administration. The interim measures in California include: banning aerial application of chlorpyrifos; ending its use on many crops — except for those determined to be “critical” by virtue of there being few, if any, alternatives (as determined by the University of California Cooperative Extension and listed on DPR’s website); establishing a quarter-mile buffer zone for 24 hours after any application of the pesticide; and requiring a 24/7/365, 150-foot […]

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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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20
Nov

Evaluation Used to Support Registration of Neurotoxic Chlorpyrifos Found To Be Fundamentally Flawed

(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2018) Scientific conclusions used to support the registration of the insecticide chlorpyrifos were flawed and omitted key health impacts, according to a fresh analysis of the original data by a team of independent scientists from northern Europe and the U.S. This re-review not only casts further doubt on the safety of the neurotoxic chlorpyrifos, it highlights a major flaw within federal pesticide regulation that allows pesticide producers to submit their own safety evaluations to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency without public oversight. “One conclusion we draw is that there is a risk that the results of industry-funded toxicity tests are not reported correctly,” says co-author Axel Mie, PhD. “This makes it difficult for the authorities to evaluate the pesticides in a safe and valid way.” In both the U.S. and European Union, pesticide producers contract with laboratories to perform required safety tests of active ingredients they hope to register for use. While these studies are generally considered ‘confidential business information’ and not available to the public, using Swedish freedom of information laws, researchers were able to obtain two key studies relating to the developmental neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos. Although not disclosed within the study, it is well […]

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09
Nov

Liver and Kidney Damage Tied to Exposure to the Organophosate Insecticide Malathion

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2018) A Tunisian study (published in January 2018) on the effects in pre-pubertal mice of exposure to malathion — an organophosphate pesticide first registered for use in the U.S. in 1956 — demonstrates significant distortion of liver and kidney biochemistry and function in the animals. Deleterious effects include compromise of feeding ability, metabolism performance, neurologic deficits, reduction of overall body weight, and simultaneous increases in the weights of livers and kidneys, with structural anomalies and lesions in those organs. Organophosphates (OPs) have raised alarm bells for years. Some, such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon, have had their registrations cancelled for household uses because of the extreme health risks to children, but agricultural, golf course, and “public health” (mosquito control) uses remain commercially available and in use. Recently, Beyond Pesticides reported on research whose investigators support — and called publicly for — a worldwide ban on the compounds because of the serious health and environmental risks they pose, particularly for children. Beyond Pesticides has written extensively on OP pesticides, including malathion and chlorpyrifos. Both are used widely in agriculture. Chlorpyrifos has been the subject of quite a ping-pong match in recent years: a scheduled ban by the Environmental Protection […]

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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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07
Nov

Brazilian Researchers Link Rise in Colon Cancer to Increase in Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2018) Brazil’s rapid industrialization of its agricultural sector may be coming at the cost of resident health, according to a new study published in Chemosphere by an international team of scientists. The researchers link the rise in the country’s pesticide use since the turn of the century to significant increases in colon cancer, particularly in the country’s most intensive agricultural southern regions. With the recent election of far right president Jair Bolsonaro, who has supported policies that would loosen Brazil’s pesticide regulations, advocates are concerned the county’s farming industry is moving in an unsustainable direction. Researchers note that as Brazil’s agriculture industry has grown over the last two decades, it has become the world’s leading consumer of pesticides. In the year 2000, roughly 160 million tons of pesticides were used in the country. By 2012, that number reached nearly 500 million tons. Scientists compared pesticides sold to standard mortality rates (SMR) in each Brazilian state. SMR measures mortality by comparing observed mortality to expected mortality when adjusting for age and gender. A rate above one indicates that there is excessive mortality. Despite improvements in detection and treatment, colon cancer deaths recorded in the country increased from […]

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01
Nov

Bumblebees Shown to Suffer Reproductive Failure after Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2018) A new study offers fresh evidence that wild bumblebee pollinators are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides, finding that exposure to these compounds interferes with mating success and population stability. Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, measuring real-world harms of neonicotinoids, indicate that the impacts they found to bumblebee “reproducers,” namely queen and drone (male) bees, does not bode well for the array of plant species that relies on them. Though advocates warn that destabilizing managed pollinators could threaten U.S. food production and exports, with food prices increasing as cost of bringing pollinators to farms increases, the study’s authors and advocates insist that the impacts of such widespread poisoning of wild bees could be felt well beyond agriculture. Researchers in the lab compare behavioral and psychological responses of virgin queens, workers, and male Bombus impatiens from multiple colonies to field-realistic doses of the neonicotinoid clothianidin. While every bee was given a replenishing supply of pollen based on body weight and energy demands, four distinct concentrations of diluted analytical-grade (pure) clothianidin (including a control with no pesticide added) were mixed into a nectar-like solution and fed to the bumblebees orally for 5 […]

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31
Oct

Massachusetts Residents Raise Health Concerns about Creosote Railroad Ties in Their Community

(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2018) Residents in the town of Great Barrington, MA are concerned about the health effects that could result from creosote-coated railroad ties stored in their neighborhood. According to a report in the Berkshire Eagle, soon after the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MDOT) parked a load of railroad ties along tracks that cut through a neighborhood, community members began to complain about the smell. Creosote is a mixture of thousands of different chemical compounds. Derived mainly from coal tar and regulated as a pesticide by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the material represents a significant hazard that puts people and the environment in danger, and can be readily replaced by safer, alternative materials. “I would want to roll up my windows immediately,” Beth Rose told the Berkshire Eagle. Another Great Barrington resident, Jeanne Bachetti, told the paper, “I started to smell them right after they moved [them] in there. Sometimes we get a propane smell from [nearby] AmeriGas, so I couldn’t tell. Then it dawned on me — that’s not gas.” MDOT is currently in the process of a project to upgrade roughly 40 miles of freight line, and is using 60,000 railroad ties as part […]

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22
Oct

Take Action: Tell California Department of Pesticide Regulation to Ban Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, October 22, 2018) The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is accepting comments on its proposal to classify chlorpyrifos as a toxic air pollutant. The classification would require DPR to develop control measures that adequately protect public health. What happens in California affects all of us because products of California agriculture are available all over the country –and the world. In addition, policies set by the state of California are often examples for other states and the federal government. Tell California Department of Pesticide Regulation to ban chlorpyrifos. California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) states: Under the Toxic Air Contaminant Identification and Control Act (AB 1807, Chapter 1047, Statutes of 1983) and its implementing regulations (Title 3, California Code of Regulations, Section 6864), one of the criteria for identifying a pesticide as a TAC is if its concentration in the air exceeds one-tenth of the level that has been determined to be adequately protective of human health. The draft TAC document shows that bystanders can be exposed to modeled air concentrations of chlorpyrifos that exceed one-tenth the protective level, and thus meet the criteria for TAC identification. OEHHA’s findings below serve to reinforce this overall conclusion, and […]

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21
Sep

Bayer’s Monsanto Asks Judge to Reverse $289 Million Glyphosate Decision

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2018) Monsanto, now an integrated unit of Bayer AG, is asking Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos to reverse the verdict, reduce the award, or grant a new trial for the company after a jury determined that a California groundskeeper contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from spraying glyphosate for years. Dewayne Johnson, who maintained the grounds of a California Bay-area school district, was awarded $289 million by a jury, which found that Monsanto acted with “malice or oppression.” Mr. Johnson’s case was the first of its kind to go to trial – fast tracked based on the severity of his illness – but over 8,000 similar lawsuits are pending in U.S. courts. Bayer’s Monsanto claims that the verdict does not reflect the scientific data. “While we are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family, glyphosate is not responsible for his illness, and the verdict in this case should be reversed or set aside,” Bayer said in a September 18 statement. While Bayer contends that glyphosate does not result in individual applicators contracting cancer, this view is at odds with a 2015 designation from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which determined the chemical is a probable carcinogen, […]

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22
Aug

Mothers with High Exposure to DDT More Likely to Have Children with Autism, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2018) Mothers with high levels of DDT’s major metabolite, DDE, are more likely to have their children diagnosed with autism, according to a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry this month. Though this study links autism to long-banned DDT, it raises significant concerns about legacy contamination from this chemical, which remains ubiquitous in the environment and in human bodies. With an increasing number of studies linking autism and other developmental disabilities to pesticides, the need to transition to safer, organic methods of farming is now more important than ever before. The study, Association of Maternal Insecticide Levels With Autism in Offspring From a National Birth Cohort, measured maternal serum levels of Finish women during early pregnancy whose children were born between 1987 and 2005. Specimens were analyzed for DDE as well as PCB contamination. Mothers with DDE at the highest 75% threshold reportedly had a 132% (1.32x odds ratio) increased risk of having a children diagnosed with autism after adjusting for confounders such as age and history of psychiatric disorders. Moms above the 75th percentile had their chances of a child’s autism diagnosis increase by 221% (2.21x odds ratio). The study found no connection […]

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16
Aug

Independent Science Plus Industry Corruption Convince Jury that Monsanto’s Glyphosate/Roundup Causes Cancer; Take Action in Your Community

(Beyond Pesticides, August 16, 2018) The jury verdict last week awarding groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson $289 million in compensatory and punitive damages because of the carcinogenic effect caused by the herbicide glyphosate/Roundup, which he used, brought to the forefront a long standing concern about inadequate regulation of hazardous pesticides and chemical industry corruption. In the case, the jury heard from numerous scientists and medical experts, including Christopher Portier, Ph.D., who has researched the toxicity and carcinogenicity of glyphosate. One of the challenges in the court case was overcoming the lack of regulatory action on glyphosate, despite the overwhelming science indicating its adverse effects, including its connection to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Globally, food safety agencies have spent the past few years insisting that glyphosate is not carcinogenic. Health and environment advocates point to the 2015 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) designation of glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” as the knell to which regulators, pesticide users, and the public should pay attention. The jury listened and considered the scientific facts. Glyphosate has perhaps been the subject of more controversy than any other pesticide in recent memory. Advocates in the scientific and environmental realms note the multiple risks its use represents, while […]

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12
Aug

Groundskeeper Who Used Monsanto’s Herbicide Roundup and Contracted the Cancer non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) Wins $289 Million Jury Verdict

(Beyond Pesticides, August 12, 2018) In a stunning legal victory for a man who contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) after using the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup), groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson won a $289 million jury verdict against the chemical’s manufacturer, Monsanto. The jury on August 10, 2018 awarded the 46-year old Mr. Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages, and $250 million in punitive damages. The jury found that Monsanto acted with “malice or oppression.” “We applaud and thank Mr. Johnson, and his family and attorneys, for persevering in this litigation, which sets a critically important standard for protecting people’s right not be poisoned by pesticides in the marketplace,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. Mr. Feldman continued: “While we know that the jury verdict cannot restore Mr. Johnson’s health, we believe that the verdict is a clarion call to manufacturers that ignore the devastating impact that their products can have on unsuspecting workers, consumers, and families. We look forward to the day in the not-too-distant future when we recognize as a society that products like glyphosate (Roundup) are not necessary, and effective and affordable land and building management can be achieved without toxic chemicals. The case should also signal to all […]

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10
Aug

U.S. Court Tells EPA to Ban Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2018) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must ban a widely used organophosphate pesticide linked to brain damage in children, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday. The appellate court ordered EPA to finalize its proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, produced by DowDupont, based on undisputed findings that the pesticide is unsafe for public health, and particularly harmful to children and farmworkers. The ruling comes in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of labor and health organizations, represented by Earthjustice. In the absence of EPA action, states have started to stand up. In May, the state legislature in  Hawaii passed legislation, which took effect in May, to become the first state to ban the chemical. On July 30, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released its scientific assessment concluding that the organophosphate insecticide, chlorpyrifos, should be listed as a Toxic Air Contaminant (TAC) in the state based on evidence of its neurological effects and exposure risks of concern. Legislation is also pending in Congress to ban chlorpyrifos and similar pesticides nationwide. Chlorpyrifos is a dangerous nerve agent pesticide that can damage the developing brains of children. Prenatal and early life exposure to chlorpyrifos is linked to lower birth weight […]

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27
Jul

Report Urges Lower Children’s Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2018) The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued new guidelines for measures to lower children’s exposures to chemicals in food and food packaging that are tied to health problems such as obesity, metabolic changes, decreased birth weight, and endocrine disrupting effects, including reduced fertility. Exposures to these chemicals–added to food during processing or in food packaging–are disproportionately high among minority and low-income populations, according to the report, especially given inadequate federal regulation and oversight. The guidelines, issued in both a statement and technical report by the AAP entitled, Food Additives and Child Health, came after the group decided to review and highlight emerging child health concerns related to “the use of colorings, flavorings, and chemicals deliberately added to food during processing (direct food additives) as well as substances in food contact materials.” Food additives, in particular, have been documented to be linked to endocrine disruption and other adverse health effects. According to AAP, “regulation and oversight of many food additives is inadequate because of several key problems in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Current requirements for a “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) designation are insufficient to ensure the safety of food additives and do not […]

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14
Jun

Research Suggests Ways to Avoid Exposure to “Obesogens”

(Beyond Pesticides, June 14, 2018) With nearly 40% of Americans diagnosed as clinically obese, leading to health care costs estimated at over $200 billion, researchers are focusing on ways individuals can reduce their exposure to chemicals that contribute to weight gain regardless of diet or exercise. These chemicals, known as “obesogens,” include a range of consumer products, from pesticides to plastics and flame retardants. While diet and exercise remain critically important to fighting the ongoing obesity epidemic, obesogens may be working to increase appetite, fat storage, or make it more difficult for the body to shed fat once it is gained. In a presentation at the European Society for Endocrinology in Barcelona, researchers from the Universities of Aveiro and Beira Interior, Portugal identified ways these chemicals are entering our environment, and good habits to employ in order to reduce obesogen exposure. “Obesogens can be found almost everywhere, and our diet is a main source of exposure, as some pesticides and artificial sweeteners are obesogens. Equally, they are present in plastics and home products, so completely reducing exposure is extremely difficult – but to significantly reduce it is not only feasible, but also very simple”, lead researcher Ana Catarina Sousa, PhD, […]

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31
May

Deforestation Found to Cause Malaria to Spread, in the Face of Harmful and Ineffective Mosquito Insecticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, May 31, 2018) Deforestation in tropical regions helps spread malaria, concludes a recent research study of the Amazon Rainforest. Published in Nature’s open-access journal, Scientific Reports, the study details researchers’ work, from 2009–2015, comparing patterns of deforestation to rates of malaria in nine states in the Brazilian rainforest. Investigators found that the highest malaria incidence concentrated in impacted patches of forest — areas deforested or otherwise degraded from an unmanaged or more-natural state. These medium-sized patches (from .1 to 5 sq. km. in size) seem to be the “sweet spots” at which wood extraction activity (logging, charcoal production, et al.) correlate most strongly with malarial infection rates. The researchers suggest that the finding is perhaps related to the habitat preferences of the primary malaria vector in the region, Anopheles (Nyssorhynchus) darlingi, which breed most happily in shady, watery, edges of forest habitat. Sixty of the 380 mosquitoes in the genus Anopheles can transmit the malaria parasites. Deforestation fragments the forest landscape, creating more forest “edges,” which means more places for mosquitoes to breed. This fragmentation may also help malaria-carrying mosquitoes spread to other areas as adults: “The new [fragmented] landscape delineated by the pattern of deforestation and soil occupation may favor […]

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17
May

Research Shows Greenspace and Biodiversity Protect Kids from Asthma

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2018)  Among the many reports of the salutary effects of nature on human health and well-being comes new research demonstrating that children who live in “green” neighborhoods have reduced risk of developing asthma. Researchers Jeroen Douwes, PhD and Geoffrey H. Donovan, PhD, of New Zealand’s Massey University (Centre for Public Health Research) and the U.S. Forest Service, respectively, conducted the longitudinal study with New Zealand subjects born in 1998, following them until 2016. The authors say the study results “suggest that exposure to greenness and vegetation diversity may be protective of asthma.” Of concern are the pesticides used in green spaces. See Beyond Pesticides’ brochure, Asthma, Children, and Pesticides and El Asma, los Niños y los Pesticidas: Lo que usted debe saber para proteger a su familia. Also, see Children and Pesticides Don’t Mix. In addition to the well-substantiated benefits of exposure to nature — reduction of the experience of stress; reduction in production of cortisol (the “stress” hormone that is linked to weight gain, hypertension, cardiac disease, weakened immune function, and loss of bone density); improved mental health; better cognitive function; and lower  BMI (body mass index) — this latest research evaluates the impact on children’s risk for asthma. […]

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