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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Environmental Justice' Category


25
Sep

Where Do Pesticides Banned in Europe Go? Mostly to Poorer Countries, While Two-Thirds of Those Sent to Richer Counties Head for the U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, September 25, 2020) An investigation has revealed that companies in the United Kingdom (UK), as well as in some European Union (EU) countries, are exporting massive amounts of pesticides — banned in their own jurisdictions — to poorer countries. More than 89,000 (U.S.) tons of such pesticides were exported in 2018, largely to countries where toxic pesticide use poses the greatest risks. The UK has been the largest exporter (15,000+ tons, or 40% of the total in 2018); other significant exporters include the Netherlands, France, Spain, German, Switzerland, and Belgium. Among the countries receiving the bulk of these dangerous pesticides are Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia, and Ukraine. Despite a flurry of attention to this problem in the U.S. in the early 2000s, little has changed, worldwide, to stop this practice of selling domestically banned pesticide products to parts of the world that continue to allow their use. This is an unethical practice that compounds the risks to workers in developing countries, who already endure heighted threats to health and local ecosystems. The investigation was conducted by Unearthed, a Greenpeace UK journalism arm, and Public Eye, a Swiss NGO (non-governmental organization) that investigates human rights abuses by Swiss companies. The collaborators […]

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03
Sep

Work-Related Exposure to Pollutants Increases the Risk of Developing Heart Defects in among Hispanic/Latinx Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2020) Occupational exposure to pollutants including, those from wood burning, pesticides, metals, and vehicle combustion, increases the risk of developing heart abnormalities among Latinx individuals, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Although previous research focuses on the impact of pollutants on human health from occupational or residential exposure, this study highlights the risk chemical exposure can have on communities, especially for those underrepresented in conventional occupational health studies, such as those with Hispanic or Latinx backgrounds. People of color communities are already at greater risk of exposure to environmental and health harms, such as pesticide pollution, which has been identified as environmental racism. Additionally, not only are people of color at risk of developing various, serious health issues associated with additional or cumulative pesticide exposure, they disproportionately face an elevated risk from Covid-19 as essential workers or family members of those workers. According to the researchers, “The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between occupational exposure to hazardous substances and cardiac structure and function in Hispanic/Latino participants in ECHO‐SOL (Echocardiographic Study of Latinos).” It is significant as it highlights the regular/routine exposure to environmental pollutants, including pollution from […]

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22
Jun

Pollinator Week: We Protect People at Greatest Risk When We Protect Pollinators and the Environment from Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2020) In the wake of the national groundswell for equity and justice in the face of rampant inequality and police brutality against people of color, we acknowledge, during Pollinator Week, holistic actions are needed to solve systemic societal problems that cause racial disparities. Those fighting for environmental justice understand that the harms inflicted by toxic chemical production and use cause disproportionate adverse effects on people of color—from fenceline communities near chemical production plants, to the hazardous and inhumane working conditions in agricultural fields, to the elevated risk factors for black and brown people from toxic pesticide exposure patterns.  Pollinator Week reminds us that we must nurture the ecosystem, which we depend on for life, with a fierce commitment to its inhabitants and a focus on those at highest risk. Therefore, this week is a time to renew our commitment to environmental justice and seek the adoption of policies and practices in our communities, and across the nation and the world, that recognize the urgency to address the disproportionate harm inflicted by toxic pesticide use.  TAKE ACTION! Here are three things you can do today. Protect Low-Income and People of Color Communities—As The Black Institute in New […]

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24
Mar

Maryland Legislature Passes Limited Ban on Chlorpyrifos Insecticide

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2020) Last week, Maryland became the latest state to prohibit use of the brain-damaging insecticide chlorpyrifos, after a measure cleared both the state Senate and House. Although the legislation implements a limited ban that sunsets after four years, advocates consider this action a step in the right direction that will protect the health and safety of Maryland residents. “Even amidst our current public health crisis, the Maryland legislature acted to protect all Marylanders’ health for years to come by banning this toxic pesticide, and we are so grateful,” said Ruth Berlin, Executive Director of the Maryland Pesticide Education Network to WBOC. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide known to inhibit the proper nerve functioning by affecting the enzyme acetylcholine esterase. The impacts of this pesticide are particularly concerning for young children, as research finds that children exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos had mental development delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorder problems at three years of age. While Maryland is the fourth state to restrict the use of chlorpyrifos, it is the second to implement these restrictions through legislation. In California, the state Department of Pesticide Regulation is implementing a phase out of […]

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12
Mar

Washington Farmworkers Harmed by Pesticides Walk Out, Demand Justice

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2020) Farmworkers walked out of an orchard in Sunnyside, Washington on Friday, March 6 to demand improved working conditions. Over a dozen individuals cited unacceptable issues, such as toxic pesticide exposure, unfair wages, and lack of paid breaks. Their employer, Evans Fruit, owns and farms over 8,000 acres in the state. These workers represent the ongoing fight against injustice perpetuated by the chemical-intensive agriculture industry. Evans Fruit workers said the company gives insufficient protective gear and training before requiring workers to spray pesticides for most of their 12 to 15-hour workdays. Jorge de los Santos, who has worked for Evans Fruit for five years, told the Yakima Herald, “My eyes (were) constantly irritating me.” “All we’re asking for is for fair wages and fair (working conditions),” said Rene Isidoro, another farmworker. Evans Fruit declined to comment, but worker representatives said the company has been unwilling to negotiate. “The company basically said it was their way or the highway,” said United Farm Workers (UFW) of America Pacific Northwest coordinator Victoria Ruddy. “We are good workers, responsible workers,” Ms. Isidoro said, “We like the work we do. We want to do better in our work. We’re here simply […]

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07
Feb

The Black Institute Shows Higher Pesticide Use in Low-Income Neighborhoods in New York City, Calls for Pesticide Ban in Parks

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2020) Toxic pesticide use in New York City (NYC) parks would get the boot if a bill — Intro 1524 — being considered by the New York City Council passes. The bill “would ban all city agencies from spraying highly toxic pesticides, such as glyphosate (Roundup), and be the most far-reaching legislation to implement pesticide-free land practices in New York City parks,” according to a press release from its sponsors, New York City Council members Ben Kallos and Carlina Rivera. The January 29 hearing on the bill in the council’s Committee on Health was preceded by release of an important report from The Black Institute: Poison Parks, which calls out the NYC Parks Department for, in particular, its continued use of glyphosate-based herbicides. It also notes, “Minority and low-income communities suffer from the use of this chemical and have become victims of environmental racism.” NYC Council members Kallos and Rivera point out, in their joint press release, that Roundup is the pesticide most intensively used by city agencies, and that, “The use of this pesticide poses a health risk for anyone who frequents city parks and playgrounds, as well as, city workers, including city parks employees […]

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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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12
Sep

Youth Ask Public to Join the Global Climate Strike September 20-27

(Beyond Pesticides, September 12, 2019) This September, adults will join in a global climate strike spurred by the Fridays for Future school climate strike movement. Environmentalists around the world are galvanizing the public to participate in youth-led disruption in order to bring attention to the climate crisis. U.S. strike demands include a Green New Deal, respect for indigenous land and sovereignty, environmental justice, protecting biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture. The strike will kick off on Friday, September 20 and actions will continue until the next Friday, September 27. Fridays for Future started when then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg began striking in 2018 in front of the Riksdag – the Swedish parliament. She was inspired by U.S. teens who refused to go back to school and instead organized a massive national protest for gun control after the Parkland, Florida shooting. Ms. Thunberg gained publicity and captured a global audience with her clear voice and piercing castigation of adults in power who, “are sh–ting on my future.” Ms. Thunberg has, among other diagnoses, Asperger Syndrome. She attributes her ability to articulate the climate crisis to her capacity to think differently and see things in “black and white.” In an interview with TIME Magazine, she stated, “The climate crisis […]

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03
Sep

Take Action: Help Save the Amazon Rainforest — #BoycottBrazilianFood

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2019) Brazil’s environment is under siege, as President Jair Bolsonaro has approved hundreds of new toxic pesticides this year and gutted watchdog environment agencies. Among the many dreadful results, news reports indicate that between December 2018 and March 2019, Brazilian beekeepers found more than 500 million dead bees. As the Amazon burns, Indigenous activists are calling on the world to help, and Beyond Pesticides is responding by promoting a boycott started by a Swedish supermarket owner: #BoycottBrazilianFood. Pledge to #BoycottBrazilianFood, and ask major U.S. supermarkets to do the same. The Amazon rainforest is the world’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink, and home both to the planet’s richest biodiversity and approximately 400 indigenous tribes. The country has 2300 pesticides registered for use; a total of 290 new toxic pesticides have been approved as of late August 2019. Swedish supermarket owner Johannes Cullberg started an international boycott in response to Brazil’s approval and use of hazardous pesticides in food production. #BoycottBrazilianFood began in June of 2019 when the total of newly registered pesticides stood at 197. Cullburg declared, “We need to stop (the president) Bolsonaro, he’s a maniac.” The boycott prompted a response from the Brazilian embassy, stating, “…the Embassy wishes to inform […]

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10
Apr

Washington and California to Celebrate First Annual Dolores Huerta Day on April 10

(Beyond Pesticides, April 10, 2019) Last month, the Washington State Senate unanimously passed HB 1906, designating April 10 as Dolores Huerta Day. In July of 2018, a similar California law proclaimed April 10 Dolores Huerta Day in that state. In an interview with Vida del Valle, Ms. Huerta stated, “I’m happy to hear that our young learners will have the opportunity to learn more about social justice and civil rights, because there is still a lot of work to do by the Dolores Huerta Foundation.” Following decades of leadership in the fight for farmworker justice, Ms. Huerta founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation in 2002, with a focus on grassroots organizing in Central Valley. According to its website, the Dolores Huerta Foundation trains low-income Central Valley residents “to advocate for parks, adequate public transportation, infrastructure improvements, the reduction of pesticide use, increased recreational opportunities, and culturally relevant services.” “We build leadership in low-income communities and organize people so that they can have a sense of their own voices and their own power,” Ms. Huerta said of her foundation in an interview with Civil Eats. “Once they understand this process and they have the power to change policy – and politicians – they […]

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05
Mar

Glyphosate Use in Forestry Drifts on Wild, Edible Plants, Leading to Lasting Contamination

(Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2019) Wild, edible plants subject to drift from the herbicide glyphosate during forestry operations can be contaminated with the chemical an entire year after an initial application, according to a new study published in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research. Glyphosate is often used in forestry to knock down unwanted trees, shrubs, and other plants after clear-cutting to provide room for the regrowth of trees deemed valuable. However, this new research shows that “non-target” species, such as raspberries and blueberries, eaten by wildlife and sometimes wild foraged by humans can retain significant levels of glyphosate contamination due to drift and overspray. Forester Lisa Wood, PhD, from the University of Northern British Columbia began this research based on input and requests from Canadian indigenous First Nations communities. Back in 2013, shrubs foraged by traditional berry-pickers in northeastern British Columbia were sampled and found to contain glyphosate residues, leading to the need for a broader investigation. Dr. Wood sampled the roots and shoots of 10 plant species from an area that had been aerially sprayed with glyphosate a year prior as part of forestry operations to clear aspen and make room for coniferous re-plantings. The 10 plants, which […]

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01
Mar

$340 Billion in Annual Disease-Related Costs Associated with Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, March 1, 2019) The costs of pesticide use extend far beyond the invoices farmers pay for purchase of the chemicals to use on their crops. The real costs related to pesticide use and exposure include those of health care, lost productivity and income, and environmental damage (loss of environmental services and biodiversity; compromised air, water, and soil quality). There has been relatively little research focused on those real and extensive costs; this Daily News Blog turns its attention to several that have made the attempt. January 2019 saw the publication of a new book, Sicker Fatter Poorer: The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Future … and What We Can Do About It, by Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, which examines how some chemicals — including organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides — disrupt human endocrine (hormonal) function, and damage health, sometimes irreparably. The book further investigates the economic costs of associated diseases and other health problems to the U.S. economy — on the order of 2.3% of GDP (gross domestic product), or $340 billion, annually. As Dr. Trasande notes, “The reality is that policy predicts exposure, exposure predicts disease and disease ultimately costs our economy.” Dr. Trasande is […]

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24
Jan

Study Reveals Pollinator Conservation Necessitates Social Justice Perspective

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2019) A UK Study has concluded that the expansion of community gardens, identified as “pollinator hotspots” with “high pollinator diversity,” offer an important opportunity for assisting ailing pollinator species and improving community quality of life, particularly in low income neighborhoods. Consequently, researchers suggest towns and cities can be planned and managed more effectively to steward existing urban biodiversity to create essential havens for pollinators and people under stress. The study finds that, “A high level of community robustness to species loss is increasingly recognized as an important goal in restoration ecology, since robust communities are better able to withstand perturbations.” As previous research has shown that organic agriculture boosts local economies, researchers account for and compare a key socioeconomic factor; household income. Affluent neighborhoods have larger, more numerous, and more consistently maintained gardens and green spaces. To increase city-scale robustness, researchers suggest increasing community garden allotments, planting perennial flowering plants in cemeteries, and improving management of public parks. However, researchers explain that increasing the number of community gardens, particularly in communities of low-income, would be the best strategy per unit area, as it would expand viable habitat for pollinators throughout cities while providing much-needed green space […]

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11
Dec

DDT in Glacial Melt Puts Alaskan Communities at Risk

(Beyond Pesticides, December 11, 2018) Meltwater and runoff from Alaskan glaciers contain detectable levels of organochlorine pesticides that bioconcentrate in fish and put individuals at risk, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Maine (UMaine). DDT, lindane, and other organochlorines have been detected throughout the world, even in natural areas thought to be untouched, and pristine. As UMaine scientists show, the atmospheric transport and ubiquitous deposition of these pesticides continues to pose risks to U.S. residents long after regulations banned their use. Although most of the highly toxic class of organochlorine pesticides like DDT were banned in the early 1970s, some chemicals retained certain uses. Lindane, for example, had its pest management uses phased out gradually until 2007, but is still allowed today as a scabies and lice shampoo. While use of these pesticides has declined in the U.S., much of the developing world, including many Asian countries, such as China, India, and North Korea, still report use. This results in atmospheric transport of the pesticides, and relevant to the UMaine research, increases the likelihood that the chemicals will eventually be deposited onto Alaskan glaciers through snow or rain. The UMaine research team investigated the amount of […]

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21
Aug

Take Action: Stop Trump Administration Rollbacks of Disaster Prevention Plans for Chemical Plant Accidents

(Beyond Pesticides, August 21, 2018) Please comment by Thursday, August 23, midnight. The Trump Administration is proposing to weaken or repeal virtually all of the modest improvements to the Risk Management Plan (RMP) adopted in January 2017. While this proposal has broad implications for communities near pesticide manufacturing plants, according to Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, “EPA itself admits that the proposed rollback will disproportionately endanger communities of color and low-income communities. . .” “EPA concludes that there is evidence that risks from RMP facilities fall on minority and low-income populations, to a significantly greater degree than those risks affect other populations. Therefore, EPA believes that this action may have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority populations, low-income populations and/or indigenous peoples, as specified in Executive Order 12898 [Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations].” (EPA, Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act, 83 FR 24881, 40 CFR Part 68 [EPA–HQ–OEM–2015–0725; FRL–9975–20– OLEM], RIN 2050–AG95.) Tell the Trump Administration to reject the proposal to rollback disaster prevention plans for chemical plant accidents (see suggested comment below) As has become more evident with the […]

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24
May

State Agency Criticized for Failing to Protect Highest At-Risk Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, May 24, 2018) California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is falling short of protecting vulnerable communities in the state, especially low-income and communities of color. This, according to a new report by California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), which assesses state agencies on eight environmental justice principles. The poor showing by DPR comes at the forefront of reports that the state’s pesticide use has increased, nearing record highs. The findings are from California Environmental Justice Alliance’s (CEJA) 2017 Environmental Justice Agency Assessment, which provides full assessments of nine key agencies in the state including, California Air Resources Board, Department of Pesticide Regulation, and the Department of Toxic Substances Control, and lists an additional six agencies to monitor. The assessment gave the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) poor grades for its persistent failure to prioritize community health over industry profits. The agencies were judged on eight environmental justice principles, with a score of good, fair or poor for each. DPR’s scores were evenly divided between “fair” and “poor.” Specifically, the report concludes, “Many state agencies are not successfully integrating [environmental justice] into their decision-making. Overall, many state agencies still make decisions that actively harm [environmental justice] communities and fail to […]

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22
Mar

Twenty-Eight Senators Urge EPA Administrator to Retain Farmworker Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2018) Last week Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt received a letter from twenty-eight U.S. Senators urging the preservation of rules that would protect farmworkers and disallow minors to handle highly toxic pesticides. At issue are two proposals from Administrator Scott Pruitt’s EPA that would roll back Agricultural Worker Protection Standards (AWPS) and the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rules put in place during the Obama Administration. In their letter, the Senators stress the impact of any potential changes, noting “the lives of children and families across the country at stake.” During the Obama era, EPA completed rulemaking that revised AWPS for the first time in over 20 years. Key components expanded training, prohibited children under 18 from applying highly toxic restricted use pesticides, created new no-entry application-exclusion zones, improved record keeping, provided farmworkers a designated representative to request pesticide records, and other safety improvements. The final rules put in place long-overdue protections, but still represented a compromise for workers and farmworker advocates. At the time the rules were released, advocacy organization Farmworker Justice released a statement noting, “While we are disappointed that the final rule does not include some significant safety measures, we will […]

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05
Mar

Pesticide Chlorpyrifos Linked to Brain Damage, Advocates Call for Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2018) Even if you don’t live in California, chances are that you eat food that is grown there. Unless all that food is organic, some of it was probably sprayed with chlorpyrifos, exposing not only you, but also the farmworkers responsible for its cultivation and harvest. Farmworker families –especially children—who usually live close to the treated fields, suffer higher impacts than those living further away. Tell Governor Brown to ban chlorpyrifos now, for the sake of the children. Five months after the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) issued its weak and inadequate draft risk assessment for the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos, the state’s Scientific Review Panel (SRP) ordered DPR back to the drawing board to produce a much stronger draft that properly considers the risk of harm to the developing brain. In view of EPA’s retraction of its proposal to revoke food residue tolerances of the highly neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos, despite its own assessment that the chemical is too toxic to children, it is especially important that California take action to ban the chemical. California, the home of the largest agriculture industry in the country, used over one million pounds of chlorpyrifos on over a million acres […]

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05
Feb

Take Action: Tell Congress that EPA Must Not Allow Children To Apply Toxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, February 5, 2018) We are all concerned about the workers who grow and harvest our food. A sustainable food system must protect the land and the people who work the land, including the children and families of farmworkers. In two related actions, EPA is proposing to remove age requirements for application of pesticides. The actions involve changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which went into effect this January and covers farmworkers hired to apply pesticides, and the Certification of Applicators (CA) rule, which will go into effect May 22 and covers those allowed to apply highly toxic restricted use pesticides (RUPs), the most toxic pesticides. The proposals to remove the age requirements present unacceptable risks to teenagers, who “are still developing in critical physical and emotional areas, with particular regard to their brains and reproductive systems,” according to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP). Tell your Congressional delegation that EPA must not eliminate the minimum age requirement. Under the Obama administration, EPA added a minimum age requirement of 18 to both rules. A 16-year-old may apply RUPs under the supervision of a certified applicator under the CA rule. Reportedly, the reason for removing the age requirement is […]

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08
Jan

Protections from Agricultural Pesticide Drift over Schools Take Effect in California

(Beyond Pesticides, January 8, 2018)  With a long-documented history of children’s exposure to pesticides that drift from agricultural fields to school yards, California’s new regulations establishing no-spray buffers took effort January 1, as labor and public health groups acknowledged the progress and inadequacy of the measure. The new rule, DPR 16-004 Pesticide Use Near Schoolsites, adopted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), prohibits many pesticide applications within a quarter mile of public K-12 schools and licensed child day-care facilities during school hours, Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. This includes all applications by aircraft, sprinklers, air-blast sprayers, and all fumigant applications. In addition, most dust and powder pesticide applications, such as sulfur, will also be prohibited during this time. The new rule was announced in November, 2017. Advocates say the new rules fail to address persistent low-level exposures associated with the use of the pesticides near schools, which are in agricultural areas that are disproportionately Latino and from farmworker families. There is continuing concern about children’s exposure to hazardous pesticides because children use school grounds after school hours and on weekends and residues from drift may remain on school grounds. Many pesticides used are persistent and systemic, lingering […]

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09
Nov

Veterans’ Coverage of Agent Orange-Related Diseases Delayed

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2017) Vietnam veterans suffering from certain Agent Orange-related health conditions will continue to wait for compensation. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin announced last week he intends to delay a decision to expand coverage to new illnesses. Despite a robust review by the National Academy of Medicine, which recommended expanding disability compensation for bladder cancer, hyopothyroidism, high blood pressure, and Parkinson’s-like tremors due to past exposure to the toxic herbicide cocktail, the VA decided to take no action. “After thoroughly reviewing the National Academy of Medicine (NAM)’s latest report regarding Veterans and Agent Orange, and associated data and recommendations from the NAM Task Force, I have made a decision to further explore new presumptive conditions for service connection that may ultimately qualify for disability compensation,”  Secretary Shulkin said in a press release last week.  “I appreciate NAM’s work and the commitment and expertise of VA’s NAM Task Force, and look forward to working with the Administration on the next steps in the process.” Given a promise from VA Secretary Shulkin to provide a decision on the new ailments by November 1st, Veterans groups are crying foul, and placing blame on the Trump administration, […]

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31
Aug

Birth Abnormalities Linked to Pesticide Exposures

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2017) Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara report in a new study that exposure to pesticides as a result of living near agricultural areas increases the risk of giving birth to a baby with abnormalities. These results are more significant for those exposed to very high levels of pesticides, underscoring the continued risks faced by farmworkers and farmworker families, especially mothers living near chemically-intensive treated fields. The study, “Agricultural pesticide use and adverse birth outcomes in the San Joaquin Valley of California,” looked at individual birth and demographic characteristics for over 500,000 birth observations between 1997 and 2011 in the agriculturally dominated San Joaquin Valley, California. The researchers, who report their findings as, “the most comprehensive to date, bringing together the largest data file ever compiled on street-address level birth outcomes and fine scale exposure to agricultural pesticides,” analyzed residential agricultural pesticide exposure during gestation, by trimester, and by toxicity influences on birth outcomes: birth weight, gestational length, or birth abnormalities. Adverse birth outcomes increased by 5–9% among those exposed to very high quantities of pesticides (e.g., top 5th percentile, i.e., ~4,200 kg per square mile applied over gestation). According to the results, “ The magnitude of effects were further enlarged […]

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28
Jun

Manslaughter Charges Filed by State AG Against Officials for Flint, MI Water Poisoning

(Beyond Pesticides, June 28, 2017) In a move that could portend broader action in the case of environmental crimes, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed charges of involuntary manslaughter against five state officials in a death resulting from Flint’s water crisis. While most criminal charges resulting from environmental mishaps and disasters are filed against corporations or their CEOs, one law review article notes, “Prosecutors have become aggressive in seeking out responsible parties. The net of criminal liability is no longer limited to those directly involved in causing the disaster, but may now extend to those involved in the response, as well as officials whose derelictions in office helped create the risk.” In announcing the charges, the Attorney General stated, “All defendants charged with involuntary manslaughter are charged in relation to the death of Robert Skidmore, 85, of Mt. Morris, Michigan. Skidmore died of Legionnaires’ disease after many others had been diagnosed with the illness, yet no public outbreak notice had been issued. The charges allege failure to notify and lack of action to stop the outbreak allowed the disease to continue its spread through Flint’s water system.” Involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and/or a $7,500 […]

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