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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Groundwater' Category


27
Jun

Biosolid Biohazard: EPA Sued for Failing to Protect Farmers and Public from PFAS-Contaminated Biosolids

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2024) Earlier this month, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of a group of ranchers and farmers in Texas harmed by biosolids contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The plaintiffs charge that their health and livelihoods were severely damaged due to contaminated biosolids leaching from neighboring properties onto their land. Despite EPA’s responsibility under the Clean Water Act (Section 405(d) and 40 CFR Part 503) to identify toxic pollutants in biosolids and regulate them to protect human health and the environment, the agency has not effectively addressed the dangers posed by PFAS in biosolid fertilizers. EPA’s failure has dramatic impacts on farmers as well as the public, who are eating or drinking PFAS-contaminated crops, dairy milk, beef, or other meat products. The shortcomings of federal regulations underscore the urgent need for a shift in how federal and state agencies approach these issues, prioritizing precaution to prevent future harm. The persistence of these legacy or “forever” chemicals in the environment illustrates the severe consequences of a historically lax regulatory framework in the U.S.  The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has identified […]

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04
Jun

Presence of Weed Killer Glyphosate in Human Sperm Elevates Debate on Pesticide Threats to Human Survival 

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2024) A study published in the most recent edition of the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety documents for the first time the presence of the herbicide glyphosate in human sperm. The study looked at 128 French men with an average age of 36 years who tested positive for glyphosate in their blood. Seventy-three out of the 128 men were found to also have glyphosate in their seminal plasma. Not only that, the amount of glyphosate in seminal plasma was nearly four times higher than what was detected in the blood.   Methods  The study involved a population of 128 infertile French men from whom seminal and blood plasma samples were collected. The study was conducted at the “Pole SantĂŠ LĂŠonard de Vinci” medical center, located centrally near Tours, France. This region is recognized for its urban characteristics as well as being a major agricultural hub, particularly for grain and wine production. The study authors note, “This area reflects the common herbicide exposure in France” and the district ranks third highest in terms of pesticide purchases. While additional qualitative data was collected, only 47 of 128 participants fully completed a questionnaire about their profession, diet (organic or […]

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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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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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12
Mar

Study Shows the Prevalence of Toxic Pesticide Leaching into Groundwater Reserves Is an International Concern

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2024) A study released in Science of the Total Environment unpacks the threat of emerging chemicals of concern (CECs), including toxic pesticides, in the groundwater of Tunisia. Researchers highlight that the impact of pesticide drift and leaching into groundwater reserves is not siloed to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, but a key concern for most industrialized countries, including the United States. Authors of this study build on literature of CECs already conducted in the region that have broader implications for the spillover effects of pesticide regulation in broader contexts. This descriptive study and accompanying Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) demonstrate the urgency of Beyond Pesticides’ mission to ban toxic petrochemical pesticides by 2032 because of the pervasiveness of toxic residues, be it pesticides, antibiotics, or other substances, from groundwater systems to human bodies. The researchers performed the tests in thirteen wells in the Grombalia shallow aquifer, an area of northeast Tunisia that feeds into the Wadi El Bay watershed, which is defined as a “high population density [with] intensive agricultural activity [in ‘one of the most polluted areas in Tunisia’].” The researchers gathered data “during two seasons and were analyzed with two high resolution […]

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06
Mar

Inspector General Finds Widely Used Flea Collars Still Not Fully Evaluated by EPA 

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2024) With over 2,500 pet deaths and 900 reports of adverse effects to people, an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report, published on February 29, 2024, reveals multiple systemic failures by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), citing inadequate safety reviews of Seresto pet collars. The report, The EPA Needs to Determine Whether Seresto Pet Collars Pose an Unreasonable Risk to Pet Health, concludes, “The EPA’s response to reported pesticide incidents involving Seresto pet collars has not provided assurance that they can be used without posing unreasonable adverse effects to the environment, including pets.” At the time the animal effects made headlines in 2021, the agency defended the product’s registration, telling the media that, despite these incidents, EPA deemed Seresto collars “‘eligible for continued registration’ based on best available science, including incident data… No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk.” Despite the scathing criticism, EPA maintains the position that it conducted an adequate review of the two active insecticide ingredients in the pet collars—the neurotoxic insecticide flumethrin, and the notorious neonicotinoid imidacloprid—proven to have adverse effects on the endocrine system as […]

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19
Dec

Groups Petition EPA to Remove from the Market the Weed Killer Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2023) Last week, farmworker organizations and Beyond Pesticides, represented by the Center for Food Safety, filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging that the weed killer glyphosate be removed from the market. The petition cites 200 studies, which represent a fraction of the independent scientific literature on the hazards of glyphosate and formulation ingredients of glyphosate products. This action follows previous litigation in 2022 in which a federal court of appeals struck down EPA’s human health assessment, finding that the agency wrongfully dismissed glyphosate’s cancer risk. The farmworker groups petitioning include Farmworker Association of Florida, OrganizaciĂłn en California de Lideres Campesinas, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, and the Rural Coalition.   Meanwhile, verdicts against glyphosate’s manufacturer, Bayer, continue to pile up with a December jury verdict in Pennsylvania awarding $3.5 million and a November jury in Missouri ordering $1.56 billion to be paid to four plaintiffs. All link their cancer to use of the Roundup. Bayer has lost almost all of the cases filed against it for compensation and punitive damages associated with plaintiffs’ charge that its product (previously manufactured by Monsanto) caused them harm.  The petition summarizes its purpose and justification as […]

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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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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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01
May

Take Action: U.S. Geological Survey Critical to Pesticide Monitoring and Regulatory Action

(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2023) The sheer number of different chemicals in the nation’s waterways and thus potential for toxic mixtures presents significant risks to health and the environment. However, the range of pesticides and the widespread contamination across the country would not be as fully uncovered without the work of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Research conducted by USGS and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on urban runoff across the country in 2019 found 215 of 438 sampled toxic compounds present in the water. The toxic soup in many U.S. waterways is unsustainable and threatens the foundation of many food chains. Imbalances in aquatic environments can ripple throughout the food web, creating trophic cascades that further exacerbate health and environmental damage. The data on water contamination has become one of the compelling reasons to abandon reliance on toxic chemicals in favor of organic land management to eliminate these threats. Tell Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland to expand USGS mapping of pesticide use and monitoring of waterways. Tell EPA Administrator Michael Regan that pesticides shown to contaminate rivers and streams must be banned. The USGS Water Resources Mission Area (WMA) researches pesticide use, trends in pesticide occurrence in streams, concentrations […]

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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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