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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Farmworkers' Category


07
Feb

Pesticide Reform Bill Reintroduced in U.S. Senate, Advocates Call Changes Major But Not Systemic Ones Needed

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2023) U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced legislation last week to increase protections against exposure to toxic pesticides. The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2023 (PACTPA) addresses many of the controversial issues with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which governs the registration and use of pesticides in the U.S. This major reform legislation tackles some of the documented deficiencies in the regulation of pesticides and removes a number of loopholes in the law. The legislation, introduced with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), also includes a ban on all organophosphate and neonicotinoid insecticides, as well as  the weed killer paraquat, which is known to cause Parkinson’s disease and lung fibrosis. Despite these reform provisions, the legislation does not touch the core of FIFRA’s pesticide registration process and chart a path for the systemic, transformative change that Beyond Pesticides says is essential to meet the existential challenges of current times—devastating health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate crisis. FIFRA, which is under the jurisdiction of the agriculture committees of Congress, has long been criticized for failing to protect the public and workers because […]

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16
Jan

Building Collective Action with a Call for Justice, Equity, and Safety on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2023) Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about individual greatness on February 4, 1968 to his congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta two months before he was assassinated. We take this day—Monday, January 16— to commemorate the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. as an inspiration for taking on the challenges of justice, equity, and safety as a central part of all our work for a sustainable future. It will take the recognition of the greatness that all individuals have within to raise our voices in our communities to stop the toxic petrochemical assault and advance viable solutions that effect a transformation to organic practices and products. In so doing, we will address those who suffer the most harm from petrochemicals—in their production, transportation, use, and disposal. Whether determining our community’s management of public lands, playing fields, and parks, or choosing food grown without toxic chemicals, or creating habitat for biodiversity, we as individuals and collectively are the instruments for effecting meaningful change. This is true whether focused on an individual chemical exposure or in taking on the existential health, biodiversity, and climate crises of our day. Dr. King’s complete quote from which the […]

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09
Jan

Calling for Reform of Pesticide Regulation to Address Health, Biodiversity, and Climate Crises

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2023) The Biden EPA still needs a new vision in order to meet the existential crises in public health, climate change, and biodiversity. The Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed in four years much of the progress made by the EPA in decades. Despite a broad new perspective embodied in President Biden’s Executive Memorandum (EM) Modernizing Regulatory Review issued on his first day in office, the Biden EPA has not adopted a new direction for regulating pesticides. Tell President Biden, EPA, and Congress to adopt a new direction for pesticide regulation. Immediately following his inauguration, President Joe Biden issued the EM, which directs the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This EM could reverse the historical trend of status-quo regulatory reviews required by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that typically support vested economic interests of polluters (e.g., petroleum-based pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers). The President’s EM sets the stage for the adoption of agency policy across government to […]

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03
Jan

Hazardous Fumigant in Food Production Harmful to Farmworkers, Groups Call for Ban

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2023) The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced new rules that remove existing limits on the use of 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D or Telone), allowing Californians to breathe much more 1,3-D than state toxicologists in the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) say is safe and highlighting the dangers to which farmworkers are routinely exposed. It is outrageous that the state of California and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would allow farmworkers—whose labor was judged “essential” during the pandemic—to be routinely exposed to highly toxic pesticides, which could be replaced by organic practices. While the state of California describes its action as increasing protection, advocates point to continued use, unacceptable harm, and the availability of alternative organic agricultural production methods that eliminate the use of 1,3-D. Since over a third of the country’s vegetables and three-quarters of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California, most people who buy their food in a grocery store have a stake in how food is grown in the state and the impact that it has on those who live and work there. Tell the state of California, U.S. EPA, an the U.S. Congress to cancel the registration […]

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04
Nov

Life On or Near Chemical-Intensive Farms Associated with Increase in Respiratory Diseases

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2022) Rural populations in the U.S., a new study finds, are particularly at risk for agriculture-related exposures associated with respiratory diseases and other kinds of airway inflammation. The exposures include those to pesticides, livestock facilities, smoke from biomass burning, agricultural dust, and endotoxin. The study paper also looked at potential protective roles for dietary DHA, and for raw milk consumption (early in life). Beyond Pesticides has regularly covered the relationships between pesticide exposures and asthma (including the outsized risks for children), COPD (chronic, obstructive pulmonary disease), and other respiratory anomalies. See our webpage on Pesticide-Induced Diseases: Asthma/Respiratory Effects for more information. Published in Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America [please note: this research paper is behind a paywall], and authored by a team from the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the study used data from the past five years plus literature reviews of research on asthma and respiratory issues in rural populations. The team notes that multiple studies have suggested that “farming-related exposures as an adult increase the risk of asthma or asthma-like symptoms development,” adding that agricultural workers are exposed to “a complex working environment […]

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17
Oct

Systemic Racism Exposed that New EPA Office of Environmental Justice May Not Address

(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2022)  A recent report, Exposed and At Risk: Opportunities to Strengthen Enforcement of Pesticide Regulations for Farmworker Safety, by the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law and Graduate School, in partnership with the nonprofit advocacy group, Farmworker Justice, again highlights the systemic racism of our country’s pesticide policies. Our nation depends on farmworkers, declared “essential workers” during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure sustenance for the nation and world. Yet the occupational exposure to toxic pesticides by farmworkers is discounted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while study after study documents the disproportionate level of illness among farmworkers. While we are encouraged to see the formation of EPA’s new Office of Environmental Justice and Civil Rights, the agency has a historical bias against preventive action to ensure the protection of those disproportionately poisoned by toxic chemicals. While critically important to clean up contaminated communities, EPA must stop the flow of toxic pesticides at the front end because of the disproportionate poisoning effects of use, handling, transportation, and disposal. We live in an age of practices and products that make toxic pesticides unnecessary and their use unconscionable. Yet, EPA insists on the acceptability of harm […]

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22
Sep

Pesticide Exposure Associated with Anemia and Blood Disorders in Farmworkers

(Beyond Pesticides, September 22, 2022) A study published in the International Journal of English, Literature, and Social Science (IJELS) finds an association between pesticide exposure and anemia among female farmers in Indonesia. Anemia is an autoimmune blood disorder negatively affecting the number of red blood cells (RBCs) and subsequent oxygen distribution via available hemoglobin proteins in RBCs. Types of anemia include iron deficiency, pernicious (lack of vitamin B-12 absorption), aplastic (lack of RBC production), and hemolytic (RBC destruction). Although risk factors for anemia consist of age, genetics, lifestyle, and gender, environmental factors such as pesticide use and exposure contribute to disorder development. Pesticides can interfere with cells in the body, causing blood profile abnormalities that affect blood cell formation and immune system function. Anemia disproportionately impacts women and children across the globe, prevalent in over half a billion women. The disorder was more prevalent among pregnant individuals because of blood loss and iron deficiency, causing adverse reproductive outcomes among children. These outcomes include preterm delivery, low birth weight, and decreased iron stores, impairing cognitive and motor development. Considering research already demonstrates many chemicals (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals) can enter the bloodstream through ingestion, absorption through the eyes and skin, or inhalation, studies like […]

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16
Sep

Farmworkers Still Inadequately Protected from Pesticides, Report Finds

(Beyond Pesticides, September 16, 2022) A report issued on September 7 analyzes the U.S. regulatory structure that is supposed to protect agricultural workers from the harms of pesticide use. Its conclusion? The current, “complex system of enforcement . . . lacks the capacity to effectively protect farmworkers. . . . [and] the cooperative agreement[s] between federal and state agencies makes it nearly impossible to ensure implementation of the federal Worker Protection Standard.” The report, Exposed and At Risk: Opportunities to Strengthen Enforcement of Pesticide Regulations for Farmworker Safety, was developed by the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law and Graduate School, in partnership with the nonprofit advocacy group, Farmworker Justice. Beyond Pesticides’ coverage of farmworker exposure to pesticides and resultant harms began in the late 1970s; it continues today, most recently with attention to incidence of kidney damage, systemic racism in the farmworker policies of EPA (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), and extra risks endured by farmworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Exposed and At Risk is issued as part of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) Food System Workers Law and Policy Project. Previously, CAFS issued a report in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Center […]

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11
Aug

Acute Kidney Failure Higher Among Farmers: High-Middle-Low Income Countries Suffer Disparities

(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2022) A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health finds that Brazilian agricultural workers are more likely to die from acute kidney failure (AKF) than other acute illnesses. Among the agricultural workers, the prevalence of AKF is higher for individuals at younger ages, who are female, and located in regions south of chemical use, particularly rural areas. However, the AKF mortality rate in urban areas is also increasing, but not as fast as in rural areas. Over six million people in the U.S. have kidney disease (i.e., nephritis [kidney inflammation], nephrotic syndrome (improper protein filtration), and nephrosis). Although many studies find an association between exposure to environmental contaminants like pesticides and chronic kidney disease (CKD), the association between pesticides and acute kidney failure remains unclear. CKD is a risk factor for AKF, and other environmental factors can increase the risk of AKF mortality. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need for comprehensive information regarding co-occurring exposure patterns and disease prevalence that can have global implications. The study notes, “Our findings reinforce the need for more robust epidemiological studies that account for co-exposures and conditions of agricultural work in the relationship between pesticide exposure and kidney […]

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15
Apr

Beyond Pesticides Makes Science-based Case that It Is Imperative to Phase Out Pesticides in a Decade

The organic solutions to problems highlighted in the latest issue of Pesticides and You—based on the importance of healthy ecosystems and public health protection—are within reach, and the data creates an imperative for action now that phases out pesticides within a decade, while ensuring food productivity, resilient land management, and safe food, air, and water. (Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2022) The current issue of Pesticides and You, RETROSPECTIVE 2021: A Call to Urgent Action, is a look at a year of science, policy, and advocacy that informs both the existential problems that the U.S. and the world are facing due to toxic pesticide dependency, and solutions that can be adopted now. The information in this issue captures the body of science that empowers action at the local, state, and federal level, and provides a framework for challenging toxic pesticide use and putting alternatives in place. The issue finds that 2021 was a pivotal year in both defining the problem and advancing the solution. This year in review is divided into nine sections that provide an accounting of scientific findings documenting serious pesticide-induced health and environmental effects, disproportionate risk to people of color and those with preexisting conditions, regulatory failures, at the same time […]

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10
Feb

Higher Disease Prevalence Among Farmers Highlights the Need Organic Practices and Compatible Materials

(Beyond Pesticides, February 10, 2022) A National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)-funded study finds that patterns of pesticide exposure among farmers have geographical and temporal significance. Specific use of and exposure to organophosphate and carbamate chemicals decrease enzyme activity within the body, resulting in greater health anomalies among farmers, especially during agricultural seasons. The use of xenobiotic (foreign chemical compounds) substances like pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture are increasing. Thus, those working with and around these toxicants must have protection. Considering that agricultural workers often experience pesticide exposure at higher rates due to occupation, long-term research must identify potential health concerns surrounding common pesticides. The study author, Dana Barr, Ph.D., states, “The majority of farmers in this study reported that they had at least one health symptom associated with pesticide intoxication. This investigation can be used to promote safer use of pesticides among farmers and mitigate exposure among residents living near a rice field. The findings will be critical for establishing and launching several preventive programs in the future.” Researchers evaluated the health effects of pesticide exposure among a cohort of farmers in Thailand during inactive and active rice farming periods. Using geographic information system (GIS) mapping, researchers compared […]

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30
Nov

CA Supreme Court Upholds $87M Award in Glyphosate Damage Lawsuit, Bayer/Monsanto Challenge Fails

(Beyond Pesticides, November 30, 2021) The chronicle of developments in the glyphosate saga has just grown longer: the California Supreme Court has rejected a request by Bayer AG for review of the August 2021 First District Court of Appeal (San Francisco) ruling, for the plaintiffs, that Monsanto knowingly marketed a product — Roundup — whose active ingredient (glyphosate) could be dangerous. The $87 million in damages awarded to the plaintiffs in the litigation, Alberta and Alva Pilliod, has thus survived Bayer’s challenge. This highest state court decision racks up another loss for Bayer (which now owns the Monsanto “Roundup” brand) — despite its dogged insistence, throughout multiple lawsuits (with many more still in the pipeline), that glyphosate is safe. Beyond Pesticides has covered the glyphosate saga extensively; see its litigation archives for multiple articles on glyphosate lawsuits. Glyphosate has been the subject of a great deal of public, advocacy, and regulatory attention, as well as the target of thousands of lawsuits — particularly since the 2015 declaration by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) that the compound is a likely human carcinogen. In June 2020, facing approximately 125,000 suits for Roundup’s role in cancer outcomes, Bayer announced a $10 billion […]

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19
Nov

Go Organic this Thanksgiving and Keep the Toxic Turkey and Fixings Off Your Plate

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2021) Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for people to come together and give thanks for the bounty of an organic harvest. Unfortunately, many Thanksgiving meals are produced by chemical farming practices that utilize hazardous pesticides, genetically engineered (GE) crops, and petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers. These inputs, apart from being unnecessary, degrade ecosystems and affect the health of consumers and agricultural workers alike. It’s never too late to start a new tradition – for this year and into the future, make your Thanksgiving feast sustainable by going organic. Now, more than ever, it’s important to go organic: For Our Own Health Going organic drastically reduces the amount of pesticide in a person’s body. Although Thanksgiving is generally no time to think about dieting, we’ll aim to make it instructive: recent research finds that one of the biggest health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet comes when you go organic. Compared to individuals on a Mediterranean diet filled with chemically farmed foods, those that ate organic had 91% lower pesticide residue. This finding is backed up by a considerable body of prior research. A 2015 study based on self-reported food intake found that those who eat organic generally have much lower […]

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04
Nov

45 Different Cancers Associated with Work-Related Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticide, November 4, 2021) A scientific literature analysis by the Federal University of Goias, Brazil, finds occupational (work-related) exposure to agricultural pesticides increases the risk for 45 different types of cancer. This analysis assesses studies from the last decade—2011 to 2020—to identify cancer risk associated with occupational exposure by country, pesticide type, and methods used to diagnose disease. Many pesticides are “known or probable” carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), and widespread uses only amplify chemical hazards, adversely affecting human health. However, research on cancer and pesticides lacks comprehensive information regarding human health effects associated with long-term chemical use. This study highlights the significant role that long-term research plays in identifying potential health concerns surrounding registered pesticides. The use of these xenobiotics (foreign chemical compounds) substances in agriculture are increasing. Thus, it is important those working with and around these toxicants have protection. The analysis notes, “Overall, then, the results of the present study emphasize the need to evaluate overuse of pesticides and the concomitant increase in the number of cancer cases. Future research should thus include active intervention in the correct use of pesticides by farmworkers and encourage adequate training and the use of PPEs [personal protective equipment], as well as routine periodic medical […]

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21
Oct

Women in Agricultural Work at Increased Risk for Skin and Blood Cancers from Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, October 21, 2021) A study published in Environment International finds higher rates of various cancers among agricultural workers, with multiple myeloma (blood cancer) and melanoma (skin cancer) disproportionately impacting female farmers. Although research studies link cancer risk to genetic and external factors (e.g., cigarette smoke), there are increasing reports and scientific studies that pesticide exposure augments the risk of developing common cancers like melanoma and less common cancers like multiple myeloma. This study highlights the importance of understanding how pesticide use can increase the risk of latent diseases, which do not immediately develop upon initial exposure. The researchers note, “Given the large size of the agricultural population worldwide and the presence of various potential hazards in its working environment, such epidemiological data are important in improving occupational health measures and ensuring better workers’ health.” To investigate the cancer incidence patterns, researchers evaluated data from the AGRICOH database involving various international studies. The studies assessed pesticide exposure scenarios, which researchers use to determine the etiological (causal) agent of cancer incidences among farmers relative to the general population. Researchers analyzed data from eight different AGRICOH groups in various countries: France (AGRICAN), the U.S. (AHS, MESA), Norway (CNAP), Republic of Korea (KMCC), Denmark […]

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23
Sep

Study Adds to 40 Year Analysis Linking Brain Cancer to Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2021) A study by Claremont Graduate University finds exposure to agricultural pesticides increases brain cancer risk up to 20 percent. This study expands on a 1998 study evaluating brain cancer risk among the farm population using epidemiologic studies. The etiology (cause) of brain cancer is inconclusive for many forms, including glioma and meningioma. Brain cancer risk factors include family history and exposure to radiation. However, geographical variance in brain cancer incidents suggests environmental pollutants like pesticides contribute to risk. Various research studies already note the adverse effects pesticide exposure has on the brain. These effects range from headaches and tumors to learning and developmental disabilities among children and adults. Although general cancer incidents are decreasing, brain and nervous system cancers are rising. Therefore, studies like this highlight the need to reevaluate pesticide exposure limits for those working with or around agricultural chemicals to prevent chronic, deadly diseases. The study researchers note, “This comprehensive review and meta-analysis encompassing 42 years of the epidemiologic literature and updating two previous meta-analyses by 20 years supports an association between farming and brain cancer incidence and mortality.[…]Our analyses suggest that the elevated risk has been consistent over time, and the addition of newer studies […]

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19
Aug

Commentary: Are Children, Agricultural Workers, and the Food Supply Safe with EPA’s Chlorpyrifos Decision?

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2021) Does a science-based, public health-oriented, occupational safety focused, children-concerned, ecologically protective society allow the use of toxic pesticides that are unnecessary to achieve land management, quality of life, and food productivity goals? Should victims of poisoning have to plead with regulators to protect them? Should organizations have to fight chemical-by-chemical to achieve basic levels of protection from individual neurotoxic, cancer causing, endocrine disrupting pesticides? Of course not. But, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that it is stopping food uses of the insecticide chlorpyrifos after being registered 65 years ago provides us with an important opportunity for reflection, not just celebration. The collective effort to remove this one chemical is a tremendous feat in eliminating one exposure to a hazardous material for children. That is the point. The action we’re celebrating required an amazingly resource-intensive effort at a time in history when we are running against the clock in an urgent race to transition our society and global community away from the use of petroleum-based, toxic pesticides—to move to meaningful practices that sustain, nurture, and regenerate life. In this context, let’s put chlorpyrifos in perspective. EPA was forced into its decision by a court […]

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14
Jul

Parents of Harmed Children Sue Manufacturer of Brain-Damaging Insecticide Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2021) Corteva (formerly DowDupont) is facing a potential class-action lawsuit after several California families filed suit claiming that the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos around their homes resulted in birth defects, brain damage, and developmental problems in their children. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that has been linked to a range of health ailments, posing significant hazards particularly for pregnant mothers and their children. The lawsuits come as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approaches a court-imposed 60-day deadline to decide the fate of the pesticide’s registration. Attorneys for the court cases, filed on behalf of individuals located in four California communities (Fresno, Kings, Medera, and Tulare counties), indicate they intend to pursue class-action status, which would allow additional injured parties to join the lawsuit. The plaintiffs argue that the effects of chlorpyrifos exposure lingers in the agricultural communities where they reside. “We have found it in the houses, we have found it in carpet, in upholstered furniture, we found it in a teddy bear, and we found it on the walls and surfaces,” said Stuart Calwell, lead attorney for the plantiffs. “Then a little child picks up a teddy bear and holds on to it.” […]

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01
Jun

Tell EPA to Protect Farmworkers Now; Hear Directly from Farmworker Community Members

(Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2021) Farmworkers are at greatest risk from pesticides. EPA’s policies toward farmworkers comprise a blatant example of systemic racism. Although everyone suffers from pesticide poisoning, farmworkers and their families shoulder a disproportionate burden of the hazards.  Agricultural justice demands that we ensure a workplace with fair wages and benefits, no discrimination or coercion, and protection from hazards, such as harmful chemicals, including pesticides. Acknowledging, respecting, and sustaining the workers who plant, cultivate, and harvest our food is central to the basic values and principles that advance sustainable practices. Agricultural justice demands that we ensure a workplace with fair wages and benefits, no discrimination or coercion, and protection from hazards, such as harmful chemicals, including pesticides. Acknowledging, respecting, and sustaining the workers who plant, cultivate, and harvest our food is central to the basic values and principles that advance sustainable practices. Tell EPA to protect farmworkers from pesticides. Worker Protection Standards Are Inadequate to Protect Farmworkers Worker protection standards are set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The original standard was developed after field hearings in which EPA heard from growers, but not farmworkers. With the threat […]

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17
May

Stop EPA’s Racist Policies that Disproportionately Harm Farmworker Children’s Brains: Ban Chlorpyrifos

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has less than two months to decide whether to cancel or modify its registration of the brain-damaging organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos, following a decision from a federal appeals court. The ruling comes after more than a decade of delay from the federal agency tasked with protecting public health and the environment from the hazards of chemicals like chlorpyrifos. The decision now falls to the Biden Administration’s EPA Administrator Michael Regan, after the previous administration reversed a proposal to ban agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos in 2017. Most residential uses of the chemical were banned in 2000.  Tell EPA to ban chlorpyrifos and other neurotoxic pesticides. The target of action by which chlorpyrifos and many other pesticides kill is the nervous system. It is not surprising, then, that pesticides also target the nervous system in humans. They are particularly hazardous to children, who take in greater amounts of pesticides relative to their body weight than adults, and whose developing organ systems are typically more sensitive to toxic exposures. The body of evidence in the scientific literature shows that pesticide exposure can adversely affect a child’s neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems, even at […]

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16
Mar

Pesticide Exposure, Agricultural Work Associated with Chronic Lung Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, March, 16, 2021) Occupational and environmental exposure to pesticides and other contaminants in the environment increase the risk of developing a lung condition known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), according to a meta-analysis published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. IPF is a chronic, degenerative disease with no certain cause or cure. It is estimated to affect roughly 13 women and 20 men in 100,000 adults worldwide annually, with onset averaging age 66. With scientific literature continuously findings new connections between pesticide use and diseases that are all too common in today’s world, advocates say it’s critical for residents and officials at all levels to embrace safer, alternative organic methods of addressing weed and pest issues. To determine risk factors for IPF, researchers narrowed down relevant research in the available literature from thousands of studies to eight relevant for their meta-analysis. These eight studies looked at IPF risk factors for a number of different populations with different life histories. Overall, roughly 1,000 IPF patients, ranged in ages 50 to 75, were compared to a control group of approximately 2,500 non-IPF patients. The studies covered risk factors based on the environmental contaminant in question, as well as an individual’s […]

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29
Jan

GAO Report Identifies Need for Improving EPA Protection of Farmworkers

(Beyond Pesticides, January 29, 2021) More oversight is needed to ensure farmworkers are protected from toxic pesticides, according to a report published this month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) (the federal agency that provides auditing, evaluation, and investigative services for Congress). Revisions to the Worker Protection Standards (WPS) governing farmworker safety were updated by the Obama administration in 2015, but GAO identified a number of shortfalls in EPA’s administration of the changes. GAO focused its review on the implementation of the ‘designated representative’ provision, which grants farmworkers the ability to task an individual they designate to request information on toxic pesticides from their employers. Providing farmworkers with a designated representative allows for the access of pesticide application and hazard information, so that they may take proper precautions or seek medical care. A farmworker may use this provision when they are no longer near the farm they worked on, or if there are language barriers. Without this provision, the information farmworkers receive would be at the whim of employers, and past incidents show that lack of information can lead to hazardous, abusive conditions for workers. EPA officials, state officials, and stakeholders told GAO there was no evidence of such […]

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05
Jan

Federal Court Blocks EPA from Weakening Farmworker Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2021) In the waning days of 2020, a federal court provided a hint of hope that farmworkers will retain basic buffer zone protections from toxic pesticides. The District Court for the Southern District of New York  issued in late December a temporary restraining order against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prohibiting the agency from implementing industry-friendly rules that weaken application exclusion zones (AEZs) for farmworkers. The ruling, a result of a lawsuit brought by groups Farmworker Justice and Earthjustice, is likely to put the onus on the next administration to determine the fate of the rule. Application Exclusion Zones (AEZs) are buffer zones where individuals are not permitted to enter during a pesticide application, as doing so would put one at risk of dangerous exposure. EPA’s proposal,  pushed forward by Administrator Andrew Wheeler and finalized in October 2020, included a number of changes to the way AEZs would be managed. Chemical intensive farms would no longer be required to keep bystanders out of off-site spray areas, and pesticide applications could be restarted when an individual leaves an AEZ. Current rules require farms to keep individuals out of areas where pesticides are applied, both on and […]

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