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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Drift' Category


13
Jun

Study Confirms Serious Flaws in EPA’s Ecological Risk Assessments, Threatening Bees and Other Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, June 13, 2024) A study published in Conservation Letters, a journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, exposes critical shortcomings in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ecological risk assessment (ERA) process for modeling the risks that pesticides pose to bees and other pollinators. For the study, “Risk assessments underestimate threat of pesticides to wild bees,” researchers conducted a meta-analysis of toxicity data in EPA’s ECOTOX knowledgebase (ECOTOX), an EPA-hosted, publicly available resource with information on adverse effects of single chemical stressors to certain aquatic and terrestrial species. The meta-analysis found that the agency’s approach, which relies heavily on honey bee data from controlled laboratory studies, drastically underestimates the real-world threats from neonicotinoid insecticides (and likely other pesticides) to native bees and other pollinators. The study “challenges the reliability of surrogate species as predictors when extrapolating pesticide toxicity data to wild pollinators and recommends solutions to address the (a)biotic interactions occurring in nature that make such extrapolations unreliable in the ERA process.” Beyond Pesticides executive director Jay Feldman remarked, “EPA’s ecological risk assessment process is fundamentally flawed and puts thousands of bee species at risk of pesticide-caused population declines and extinctions.” Mr. Feldman continued, “This underscores the urgent […]

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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 “high risk” 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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24
Apr

EPA Draft Herbicide Strategy Update Further Weakens Plan to Protect Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2024) On April 16, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an “update” to the Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework (Draft Herbicide Strategy Framework to Reduce Exposure of Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Species and Designated Critical Habitats from the Use of Conventional Agricultural Herbicides) that was released last summer, weakening aspects of the agency’s efforts to “protect” endangered species from herbicide use. The update outlines three types of modifications to the Draft Strategy, including “simplifying” its approach, increasing growers’ “flexibility” when applying mitigation measures, and reducing the mitigation measures required in certain situations. By reducing the stringency of the Strategy, advocates are again questioning EPA’s commitment to fulfilling legal requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or protecting endangered species and their habitats in the midst of an unprecedented rate of global extinction. ESA is celebrated as one of the most far-reaching conservation laws globally, credited with preventing the extinction of 99 percent of those species the government targets for protection, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). ESA establishes a framework to categorize species as “endangered” or “threatened,” granting them specific protections. Under ESA, EPA is required to consult with relevant agencies […]

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26
Mar

Study Finds Copper Sulfate and Glyphosate in Waterways, Linked to Human and Environmental Hazards

(Beyond Pesticides, March 26, 2024) The authors of a case study in Canale D’Aiedda, Taranto, Italy, published in Scientific Reports, conclude that, “[T]he results of monitoring and modeling activities revealed a chronic risk associated with the presence of Cu [copper] from November to April in several river reaches and acute risk associated to the presence of glyphosate in several reaches mainly in the wet season.”  According to the authors, “The most important factor influencing the chronic risk for Cu were the combination of two factors: the high surface runoff and the Cu applications. The most important factor influencing the glyphosate peaks of concentration is the streamflow.” The authors of the study measure the flow of pesticide concentrations through the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT). The ecotoxicological data was collected at two stations in Germany that flow into Italy, within the Canale d’Aiedda basin. The streamflow was monitored between August 2017 and December 2019. Out of hundreds of pesticides and six metabolities investigated in this study, “only traces of copper and glyphosate were found.” The authors continue, “The banks and the bed of the river system are almost all covered by concrete. The hydrological regime is natural and intermittent in […]

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05
Mar

EPA and Court Allow Violations and Hazards of Weed Killer Dicamba Under Existing Stock Order

(Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2024) Buried in a court decision in February that determined that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the law in allowing harm associated with the herbicide dicamba’s registration is language that permits the damages to continue through this year’s growing season. The judge’s ruling, deferring to EPA’s interpretation of the existing stock provision in the federal pesticide law, continues a pattern of “existing stock” allowances that permit hazards to continue well after a finding of harm or noncompliance. This process contrasts with the issuance of a product recall, which is typically done when pharmaceuticals are found to violate safety standards. Despite the finding of dicamba’s harm and EPA’s failure to comply with standards, the continued use of the weed killer through the 2024 growing season is effectively authorized in a decision of the U.S. District Court of Arizona, which vacates the EPA’s 2021 authorization of the use of three over-the-top (OTT) uses of dicamba-based herbicide products. In response, EPA issued an existing stocks order. EPA’s pattern of allowing the use of existing stocks has long been a concern for public health and environmental advocates, who have called for the discontinuance of use upon findings of […]

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29
Feb

Oregon Is the Latest State to Step In and Ban Widely Used Neurotoxic Pesticide, Chlorpyrifos, as EPA Stalls

(Beyond Pesticides, February 29, 2024)  In the face of federal inaction, an Oregon regulation banning the agricultural uses of the highly toxic chlorpyrifos took effect on January 1, 2024. Chlorpyrifos was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2000 for most residential uses by its manufacturer, Dow Chemical, and has been the subject of extensive litigation. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed most agricultural uses to continue. Oregon joins four other states that have acted to ban chlorpyrifos, including Hawai’i, New York, California, and Maryland.   Central to state action are nervous system and brain effects in children, especially farmworker children. Chlorpyrifos is banned in 39 countries, including the European Union (see here for more Beyond Pesticides coverage). State action has become important since the November 2023 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which overturned the EPA rule revoking all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos, an effective ban on chlorpyrifos use. The final EPA rule, issued in August 2021, came in response to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found the agency’s inaction on chlorpyrifos unlawful. The case was filed by Earthjustice, on behalf of public health, labor, and disability organizations.  The […]

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18
Dec

Take Action: Tell California You Care about Transparency in How Your Food Is Grown

(Beyond Pesticides, December 18, 2023) Since nearly three-quarters of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California, new regulations being proposed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), governing public disclosure of pesticide use, concern all food eaters. Food consumers are increasingly concerned about not only the residues of pesticides and other toxic materials in their food, but the impact of the production practices to the workers, the communities, and the environment where their food is grown. While the precedent-setting DPR proposal is an important step in providing the public with information on the chemicals used in California food production, advocates are asking that the regulations include information on the exact location of planned pesticide applications so that people in the toxic chemical application area can take protective action. Tell DPR to require exact field locations for dangerous pesticide applications and commit to improvements based on community input. The DPR proposal, while precedent-setting in providing Californians with the basic right-to-know about planned use of toxic chemicals in their neighborhoods, will not provide the exact location of planned pesticide applications. Under the DPR proposal, the public would be provided with an application location of one square mile—even though the […]

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04
Dec

Protection of Pregnant Farmworkers Under Civil Rights Protection; Will There Be Enforcement.

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2023) With a history of neglect of farmworker protection in the workplace, advocates are pointing to the need for ensuring stringent enforcement of regulations that are expected to take effect under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) this month. In addition to weak laws and protections that typically exempt farmworkers, enforcement for farmworker protections that do exist has been lacking. A report on enforcement of wage and hour law under Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has documented diminished capacity to detect and enforce against violations. A report by the Economic Policy Institute (2020) shows the dramatic failures of DOL, which is underfunded and understaffed to enforce the law. As the agency charged with operationalizing the new law to protect farmworkers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will be up against a federal pesticide law enforcement system that is dependent by agreements with state agencies, mostly departments of agriculture, that have a history of failing to enforce the limited protections provided for farmworkers. The EEOC is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and operates 53 field offices in every part of the country. Farmworkers have endured a long history of discrimination in the United […]

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02
Nov

Childhood Leukemia Linked to Pesticides Used in Vineyards

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2023) A study published in Environmental Health Perspective finds the risk of acute childhood leukemia (AL), specifically acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), slightly increases with exposure to pesticides (i.e., insecticides and herbicides) from uses on vines, a crop subject to intensive pesticide use. Within 1 kilometer [km] of vineyards, the risk of ALL among children increases in areas with a higher density of vines. Although medical advancements in disease survival are more common nowadays, childhood AL remains the secondary cause of child mortality following physical injury. Furthermore, childhood leukemia survivors can suffer from chronic or long-term health complications that may be life-threatening. The etiology or cause of childhood AL involves the interaction of multiple components, including lifestyle and genetics; emerging evidence indicates that environmental contaminants (e.g., pesticides, air pollution, solvents, diet, etc.) play a role in disease. Pesticide contamination is widespread in all ecosystems, and chemical compounds can accumulate in human tissues, resulting in chronic health effects. Children are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of pesticide exposure as their developing bodies cannot adequately combat exposure effects. Already, studies find low levels of pesticide exposure during pregnancy or childhood cause adverse health effects, from metabolic disorders to mental and physical disabilities. Moreover, […]

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05
Sep

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

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

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11
Apr

Soils in Urban and Natural Lands Equally Contaminated, Study Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, April 11, 2023) Natural areas are often considered more pristine than urbanized locations, but a new study published in Nature Communications shows that the soils in natural lands can be just as polluted as those in more densely populated cities. The findings underscore the broad impacts that human activity is having on the health and stability of natural systems around the globe. In order to address widespread contamination, advocates urge government regulators to consider the full cradle to grave life cycle of toxic materials before releasing them into the environment. An international contingent of scientists came together to conduct this research on a global scale, looking at soils on every continent. Soil samples were collected from urban greenspaces and nearby natural areas and paired together. Sampling was conducted in 56 cities in 17 countries, representing six continents. These data were also compared to soil samples taken from remote ecosystems in Antarctica. Scientists tested soils for eight heavy metals, 46 pesticide residues, microplastics, and antibiotic resistance genes. Results reveal a wide distribution of tested contaminants in all samples taken. “Although the level of individual contaminants varied greatly across locations, we detected significant correlations among each type of soil contaminants […]

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27
May

Drift-Prone Weed Killer Out of Control with the Chemical Industry at the Wheel

(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2022) In a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) court document filed on May 16, the agency signaled potential changes to the labeling it requires for “over the top” (OTT, or post-emergent) herbicides containing dicamba, a very problematic pesticide. The filing — in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, where EPA currently faces litigation about its 2020 dicamba registrations — comes as a result of Bayer, Inc.’s March 2022 proposed amendments to EPA registration for its XtendiMax herbicide, which contains dicamba and glyphosate. Beyond Pesticides has covered the dicamba saga for years, including the EPA Office of the Inspector General’s critical 2021 report citing an abandonment of science and assault on agency integrity for EPA’s dicamba decisions during the Trump years. Dicamba has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, birth defects, and kidney and liver damage. It is toxic to birds, fish, and other aquatic organisms, and is known to leach into waterways after application. Dicamba also causes serious damage to non-GE (genetically engineered), non-target plants, damaging habitat and food sources for various organisms, especially for birds and insects. According to Progressive Farmer, EPA is currently considering some dicamba use restrictions after Bayer submitted them to […]

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18
Mar

Pesticide Drift or Chemical Trespass Continue Uncontrolled, Despite Successful Litigation

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2022) A 2020 lawsuit related to pesticide drift was resolved on March 8, 2022 in San Joaquin (California) Superior Court with the finding that Alpine Helicopter Services, which specializes in pesticide applications for government and tourism entities, had violated pesticide drift laws and endangered public health and safety. The court further found Alpine liable for damage related to its actions, though penalties in the case, brought by California state prosecutors and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), have yet to be determined. The case exposes a handful of the many instances of pesticide drift, also known as “chemical trespass,” that occur every year in the U.S. In 2004, Beyond Pesticides covered the issue with Getting the Drift on Chemical Trespass; its monitoring of drift issues is ongoing, as can be seen in its “Pesticide Drift” archives. The long history of nontarget exposure, contamination, and poisoning teaches that drift is a function of pesticide use, but not considered adequately by regulators who allow the marketing of poisons that are known to move through the environment uncontrolled. Cases like the Alpine case highlight a relentless problem associated with the daily use of pesticides. Pesticide drift is any airborne […]

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29
Jun

Maine Aerial Forestry Spray Ban of Glyphosate and Other Herbicides Vetoed by Governor, Override Effort Begins

(Beyond Pesticides, June 29, 2021) Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) last week vetoed legislation prohibiting the aerial use of glyphosate and other dangerous herbicides in forestry practices. LD125, An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture, was supported by a wide range of health and conservation groups, and aimed to bring the state in line with best practices for public health and the environment. With Maine recently passing one of the strongest consumer bans on pollinator-toxic neonicotinoids, advocates are dismayed by the setback from the Governor’s office. In a statement to Maine Public Radio, Senate President Troy Jackson said that Governor Mills should stop referring to herself as an environmentalist. “The science across the country, across the world, says that this stuff kills people, kills wildlife,” Mr. Jackson says. “And all that it is, is a giveaway to the large landowners so they can maximize their profits off the lives of the people in Maine and the wildlife in Maine.” Senator Jackson’s words are stern yet factual. Glyphosate has been identified by the World Health Organization as a probable human carcinogen. Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, has been the subject […]

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06
Apr

Living Within 2.5 Miles of Chemical Farming Increases Risk of Childhood Brain Tumors

(Beyond Pesticides, April 6, 2021) Pregnant women living within 2.5 miles of agricultural pesticide applications have an increased risk that their child will develop central nervous system (CNS) tumors, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research by a team at University of California, Los Angeles. The results are particularly concerning as it reveals that individuals do not have to be in close contact with pesticides for risky, health-harming exposures to occur. “This transition from farmland to residential neighborhoods is abrupt across California, and, of course, constantly changing as farmland is developed,” said study co-author Myles Cockburn, PhD. “The simplest way to mitigate these risks is by reductions in exposure to pesticides, through restrictions to aerial spraying and air blast that lead to increased drift, and by farming methods that decrease reliance on pesticides.” Researchers note that the present study is unique in that it was able to pinpoint the specific pesticides related to the development specific types of tumors. To make these determinations, scientists made use of California’s Cancer Registry records. Diagnosed children aged 0-5 were matched to maternal residences where pesticide applications were made within 4000 meters (~2.5 miles). Pesticide application records were obtained from data […]

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