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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Drinking Water' Category


17
Apr

“Forever Chemical” PFAS Drinking Water Rules Issued, Urgency to Shift from Petrochemicals Pesticides

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

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09
Apr

Industry Stops PFAS Restrictions, Reverses EPA in Court, as Plastic Leaches Contaminants

(Beyond Pesticides, April 9, 2024) The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in an opinion authored by Circuit Judge Cory T. Wilson, has vacated an action by the U.S. Environmental Protection  Agency (EPA) that had ordered the Texas-based manufacturer Inhance Technologies, L.L.C. to stop producing plastic containers that leach toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into pesticides, household cleaners, condiments, and additional products. EPA has taken action after the agency determined that the PFAS created during the fluorination process “are highly toxic and present unreasonable risks that cannot be prevented other than through prohibition of manufacture.” While the court is not challenging EPA’s authority to determine the hazards associated with PFAS exposure to be unacceptable, on a technicality, it is finding that the agency used the wrong section of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Section 5, which the court says is focused on new uses. According to the Court, “The EPA is just not allowed to skirt the framework set by Congress by arbitrarily deeming Inhance’s decades-old fluorination process a “significant new use,” even though EPA’s awareness of the PFAS contamination was “new” to the agency and not disclosed by the manufacturer. Even if EPA were […]

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27
Mar

Synthetic Turf Fields, Forever Chemicals and the Safer Alternative: Organic Grass

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2024) A preliminary experiment conducted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) reveals concerning levels of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on the skin of soccer players and coaches after playing on artificial turf fields. The Washington Post reported on March 12 on the PEER test results, which found PFAS levels increased on the skin in three out of four participants following soccer matches on artificial turf. In contrast, no similar increase was observed after games on natural grass fields. The presence of PFAS is alarming due to their association with several serious health issues, including cancer, birth defects, and developmental and immune deficiencies, among others. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) writes that PFAS exposure risks are particularly concerning for young children, who are more susceptible due to their developing bodies and at risk for higher levels of exposure than adults. Known as “forever chemicals” for their persistence in the environment, PFAS continue to accumulate in the human body, posing long-term health risks. Kyla Bennett, PhD, science policy director at PEER and a former scientist and lawyer with EPA, emphasized the need for further research. “Although this study is preliminary, it highlights the potential […]

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14
Mar

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

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

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25
Jan

Bill to Protect Birds and Bees in New York Raises Political Challenges to Addressing Ecosystem Collapse

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2024) Legislative efforts to curtail some life-threatening pesticides associated with birds and bees (and other pollinators) decline were weakened in New York State at the end of December 2023 as the governor negotiated and stripped elements of a bill relating to agriculture that had passed the legislature—again illustrating the grip of the agrichemical industry on public policy intended to begin to address the crisis in ecosystem collapse. (See “Study Cites Insect Extinction and Ecological Collapse.”) In passing the Birds and Bees Protection Act, New York joined New Jersey, Nevada, and Maine in banning most nonagricultural uses of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides, but, in last-minute changes to avoid the governor’s veto, failed to phase out corn, soybean, and wheat seeds coated with these chemicals. [Pointing to an exemption in federal law that has been challenged by advocates, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate treated or coated seeds as pesticides despite their toxic pesticidal properties.] In New York State, the governor can, in consultation with the leadership of the legislative branch, negotiate language changes (called Chapter Amendments) in legislature-passed legislation (originally enacted) before deciding to sign it into law or can simply choose to veto the legislation. […]

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05
Dec

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

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

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07
Nov

Pesticide-Intensive Agricultural Practices Lead to Elevated Childhood Cancer Rates in Brazil

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2023) Two decades after the introduction of genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant crops and the consequential exponential growth in weed killers, Brazil is seeing an increase in childhood cancer. This is the conclusion reached in a comprehensive study spanning 15 years (2004-2019), “Agriculture Intensification and Childhood Cancer in Brazil,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in October. For the past 20 years, soybean herbicides have been killing and sickening children in the Cerrado and Amazon regions–where soybean cultivation is concentrated. The study reveals a link between an increase in soy cultivation and a spike in cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer affecting children, among indirectly exposed populations. Researchers identify pesticide-contaminated drinking water as the driving force behind the increased cancer rates occurring downstream from soybean sites.  In 2003, Brazil legalized its first official genetically modified (GM) crop, welcoming the era of GM soybeans and sparking a radical transformation in its agricultural landscape–for better or worse. The introduction of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybean seed promised farmers an efficient and herbicide-resistant alternative to traditional crops. A significant shift occurred in the areas dedicated to soy cultivation in the Cerrado region, tripling from […]

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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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19
Jul

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

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

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29
Jun

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

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

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15
Jun

Recent Supreme Court Ruling on Clean Water Act “will take our country backwards”

(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2023) The Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction dramatically limits the EPA’s ability to protect critical wetland ecosystems. On May 25, in a 5-4 majority decision, the Supreme Court ruled that EPA has authority to protect only “wetlands with a continuous surface connection to bodies that are ‘waters of the United States’ in their own right.” Wetlands must appear “indistinguishable” from larger waterways at a surface-level perspective. Wetlands next to a large waterway are no longer protected if they are separated by a manmade or terrestrial barrier. Water flows underground from upstream to downstream sources and exits the confines of its customary boundaries during periods of flooding, so to declare waterways distinct based merely on a surface-level perspective defies scientific understanding of ecosystem health.  Critical Nature of Wetland Ecology  The conservation of wetland ecology is critical to the health of our environment. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) states, “Wetlands are among the most productive habitats on earth” given their role in flood resilience, improvement in water quality, and coastal erosion control. Wetlands are essential nursery grounds for many species of fish and oases for […]

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18
Apr

France’s Drinking Water Contaminated with Toxic Fungicide Chlorothalonil, Banned in EU but Widely Used in U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2023) Health officials in France are alerting the public that a majority of drinking water samples tested by the government contain the presence of the highly toxic fungicide chlorothalonil. The findings highlight a stark divide between regulations and public health management in the European Union and United States. While EU member states have banned this chemical and are working to understand and address lingering effects, tens of millions of pounds of chlorothalonil continue to be sprayed throughout the U.S. annually. French officials say they conducted this research after researchers in Switzerland found evidence of the fungicide in drinking water. A few years ago, Swiss scientists released a report showing Evian bottled water, touted for its claims of purity, was found to contain measurable levels of chlorthalonil.  “The fact that even the Evian springs in the French Alps, which are hardly affected by humans, contain pesticide residues is alarming and shows the far too careless handling of these substances,” Roman Wiget, president of the international drinking water association AWBR told the German-language Swiss weekly at the time. The EU banned uses of chlorothalonil in 2019, due to concerns over water contamination, the effects of such contamination on fish […]

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07
Oct

Water Contamination with Pesticides Goes Unmonitored as Problem Escalates

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2021) The Arizona State Auditor General reports a lack of groundwater monitoring for pesticides and other contaminants by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). For over six years, the agency failed to monitor groundwater and soil for agricultural pesticide contamination. Furthermore, the agency did not implement key groundwater monitoring processes over four years, despite law requirements. This lack of waterway monitoring resulted in an increased number of impaired surface waters across the state.   Pesticide contamination in waterways is historically commonplace and widespread throughout U.S. rivers and streams, with at least five or more different pesticides present in 90 percent of water samples. Thousands of tons of pesticides enter waterways (e.g., rivers, streams, lakes, oceans) around the U.S. from agricultural and nonagricultural sources, contaminating essential drinking water sources, such as surface water and groundwater. Reports like these are essential in determining appropriate regulatory action to protect human, animal, and environmental health from chemical toxicant contamination. The report states, “[The] Department has not developed all required aquifer water quality standards, conducted key ongoing groundwater monitoring of the State’s aquifers, monitored for agricultural pesticides in groundwater and surrounding soil, or reduced the number of impaired surface waters in the State, limiting its […]

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11
Mar

Ecosystem Health: Pesticide Use from Forest Management Practices Threatens Essential West Coast Marine Organisms

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2021) A Portland State University (PSU) study finds that pesticides from the forestry industry threaten clams, mussels, oysters (bivalves) along the Oregon state coast. Bivalves are excellent indicator species, signaling environmental contamination through their sedimentary, filter-feeding diet. However, continuous pesticide inputs—from various forestry management regimes—into watersheds along Oregon’s coastal zone endanger these species in downstream rivers and estuaries (river mouths). Although research demonstrates many forestry practices (e.g.., road building, planting, clearcutting, thinning) have cumulative effects on the ecosystem, there is a lack of studies addressing the overall impact of multiple chemical mixtures and application on watersheds and subsequent aquatic transport. Like agriculture, conventional forest management across the U.S. depends on the use of toxic pesticides to control pest populations. However, pesticide residues from application drift, runoff, and contamination continuously jeopardize the health and fitness of various non-target species, including humans. Marine ecosystem pollution is difficult to track and measure, and forestry pesticide regulations can invoke variations in water quality requirements through discrepancies in buffer zones and application concentrations. Therefore, studies like this can help guide future forest management practices to reduce the number of chemicals entering aquatic ecosystems. Researchers in the study note, “These findings highlight the need to […]

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15
Jan

Millions of People Drinking Groundwater with Pesticides or Pesticide Degradates

(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2021) A study of groundwater that feeds public drinking water supply finds pesticides in 41% of supply wells (and a handful of freshwater springs). Two-thirds of that 41% contain pesticide compounds per se, and one-third contain pesticide degradates — compounds resulting from biotic (or abiotic) transformation of pesticides into other compounds. There is considerable ink (digital and actual) covering the health and environmental impacts of pesticide exposures, and reporting on the issue of pesticide migration into groundwater and waterways. Beyond Pesticides maintains that organic practices in land management, and especially in agriculture, are the solution to the contamination of our waterways and groundwater. Such practices, widely adopted, would have enormous salutary effects on human health and the health of ecosystems and their inhabitants. Published in Environmental Science & Technology, the study paper reports this research as the “first systematic assessment of raw [untreated] groundwater used for public drinking supply across the United States to include and provide human-health context for a large number of pesticide degradates.” Samples for the research were gathered across 1,204 sites — at or near the wellheads — in 23 principal aquifers whose groundwater is tapped for drinking water supply used by approximately […]

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