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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Plastic' 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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17
Apr

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

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

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09
Apr

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

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

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25
Mar

Data Supports Need to Transition Away from Plastics and Pesticides with Holistic Strategy

(Beyond Pesticides, March 25, 2024) Because of their widespread infiltration into the environment and the bodies of all organisms, including humans, plastics contamination requires a holistic strategy to protect life— with consideration given to practices and chemical use that reduce or eliminate harm. Pesticides and other toxic chemicals are adsorbed (adhered) to microplastics, resulting in bioaccumulation and widespread contamination. This adds to the complexity of the problem, which is largely ignored by federal regulatory agencies. While most environmental policies attempt to clean up or mitigate health threats, new data reinforces the need to stop the pipeline of hazardous chemicals, wherever possible. With new data on the harm associated with plastics and related contamination, it becomes urgently necessary for all government agencies to participate in a comprehensive strategy to eliminate plastics and pesticides. Beyond Pesticides points to the evolving science on plastics contamination and their interaction with pesticides as yet another reason to transition to holistic land management systems that take on the challenge of eliminating hazardous chemical use. Organic land management policy creates the holistic systems framework through which plastics can be eliminated. >> Tell USDA, EPA, and FDA to create strong restrictions on plastics in farming, water, and food. […]

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22
Mar

Plastics in Agriculture and Packaging Clog Arteries Raising Rate of Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2024) With long-running efforts to keep organic land management in the forefront of public health and environmental measures to eliminate petrochemical synthetic substances, including pesticides and fertilizers, plastic again emerges as an increasing threat in a study linking microplastics to cardiovascular disease. The study by Italian researchers, published in the March 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, finds an elevated risk factor for heart attack and stroke associated with plastics found in the plaque of the majority of patients’ carotid arteries. A holistic approach to agriculture that embraces principles and values to enhance biodiversity and protect health, the organic system requires that synthetic substances are compatible with that system. In this context, the environmental and public health effects of plastics are increasingly subject to scrutiny as they permeate nearly every aspect of food production, including fields, crops, foods, and food packaging. Plastics also migrate from other sectors into agriculture via wind and water and are now ubiquitous in every environment. Removing plastics from any ecosystem is extremely problematic, so getting them out of agriculture will be difficult – but necessary, given the accumulating evidence of their toxicity. Beyond Pesticides continues to push for […]

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19
Mar

UNEP Initiative Aims to Tackle Petrochemical Pesticide Infiltration in Global Majority Nations

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2024) This month the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) announced the creation of a new initiative to combat the health and environmental impacts of toxic petrochemical pesticides in agriculture. Launched by seven countries—Ecuador, India, Kenya, Laos, Philippines, Uruguay, and Vietnam—the Financing Agrochemical Reduction and Management (FARM) Programme is a $379 million initiative that “will realign financial incentives to prevent the use of harmful inputs in food production.” This international cohort aims to phase out the use of “toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs)—chemicals which don’t break down in the environment and contaminate air, water, and food.” The work of FARM echoes Beyond Pesticides call for the banning of toxic petrochemical pesticides by 2032. The program will help countries implement their commitment to eliminate POPs and plastics in agriculture. As it is described, “FARM…will support government regulation to phase out POPs-containing agrochemicals and agri-plastics and adopt better management standards, while strengthening banking, insurance and investment criteria to improve the availability of effective pest control, production alternatives and trade in sustainable produce.” The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants requires signatories to adopt a range of measures to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate the release of POPs. All […]

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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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18
Jan

Researchers Raise Alarm about Ingested Nanoscale Microplastic Particles Not Previously Evaluated

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2024) Research continues to raise alarms about the hazards associated with the use of plastic, including the microplastic particles that are distributed in alarming amounts throughout the environment and taken up by organisms, including humans. A study published by researchers at Columbia and Rutgers universities (see article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 2024) reports that the average liter of three brands of bottled water in the U.S. contains almost a quarter of a million tiny plastic pieces, of which 90 percent are at the nanoscale. The other ten percent are slightly larger, at microscale. Last December, researchers at Norway’s MicroLEACH project published a study that analyzes the components of 50 items in common use—plastic bags, disposable cups, dishwashing gloves, car tire granules, children’s toys and balloons. (See summary.) The researchers found, like in previous studies, that many hazardous chemicals in the plastics as well as many that could not be identified because they were not listed in the major chemical substance databases. Only 30 percent of the chemical compounds identified in the study were present in two or more products. This suggests that most plastics contain many unidentified chemicals, far beyond […]

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