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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'State/Local' Category


09
Apr

Chemical-Intensive Land Management Contributes to Toxic Lagoons Overflowing with Synthetic Fertilizer Waste

(Beyond Pesticides, April 9, 2021) In early April, the leaking, open-air, Piney Point storage pond near Tampa, Florida necessitated hundreds of resident evacuations over concerns that the “reservoir” would breach and flood a three-county area with what was described as a potential “20-foot wall of water.” Ultimately, controlled releases from the 480-million-gallon “pond” (into Tampa Bay) avoided such a flood, but the event underscores the “ticking bomb” nature of such open-air, toxic-liquid-waste facilities, which are used by multiple industries in the U.S. Among those are, as in this case, the phosphate mining sector, and the synthetic fertilizer industry. The latter is tied directly to the chemical-intensive agriculture crisis, and to the exact kind of waste storage facility at issue in the Florida event. This “double whammy” related to synthetic fertilizers further validates Beyond Pesticides’ advocacy for a global transition to organic land management — which rejects the use of synthetic fertilizers for the myriad harms they cause. As reported by The New York Times, that Florida storage pond contains “legacy processed water” — code for wastewater with traces of heavy metals and other toxicants — contained by walls of phosphogypsum tailings at least 70 feet high. Phosphygypsum tailings are the […]

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30
Mar

Endangered Florida Manatees Contaminated with Glyphosate/Roundup Due to Widespread Use

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2021) Florida manatees are experiencing chronic glyphosate exposure that is likely to impact their immune system and make them more susceptible to other environmental stressors such as red tide and cold stress, according to a study published recently in Environment International by a Florida-based team of researchers, led by University of Florida PhD candidate Maite De Maria. Florida manatees, a subpopulation of the West Indian manatee, are listed as threatened under the endangered species act, as populations are under constant threat from human activity in the freshwater ecosystems they rely on. The findings are a call for Florida regulators and lawmakers, particularly communities along the coast, to implement changes in land care practices that eliminate reliance on toxic pesticides like glyphosate. Researchers collect plasma samples from Florida manatees over the course of a decade, from 2009 to 2019, looking at populations from both sides of the state’s coast. In addition, eight water bodies in Florida were sampled for the presence of glyphosate three times per year in both 2019 and 2020. Results found glyphosate in the bodies of 55.8% of Florida manatee samples. Most concerning, the amount of pesticide increased in a straight line over the […]

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23
Mar

Arkansas Plant Board Takes First Step to Roll Back Crop Damage Protections from Dicamba/Herbicide Drift

(Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2021) Earlier this month, the Arkansas State Plant Board (ASPB) voted to loosen regulations curtailing use of the highly drift-prone herbicide dicamba. With an 8-7 vote, ASPB eliminated measures advanced in 2016 that protect growers from dicamba drifting off of genetically engineered (GE) soybean fields. Farmer, health, and environmental advocates are encouraging groups and individuals to submit testimony in opposition to the changes should the state’s Governor continue the proposal to a 30-day comment period. Dicamba has been the subject of intense debate and scrutiny over the last several years—most prominently in Southern and Midwestern states where extensive cotton and soybean monocultures are grown. Due to rampant weed resistance to glyphosate herbicides in GE crop fields, Bayer/Monsanto developed new seeds capable of growing into plants that can withstand repeated sprayings of both glyphosate and dicamba. The company released these new seeds in the mid-2010s without waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve a corresponding herbicide formulation Bayer/Monsanto claimed would reduce drift problems. Farmers began using older, unapproved dicamba formulations, but ultimately even after receiving approval, new formulations proved too drift-prone and problematic to be used without incident. In response, ASPB instituted changes that […]

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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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10
Mar

Minnesota Deer Threatened by Ubiquitous Neonicotinoid Contamination, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2021) Deer populations throughout the state of Minnesota are contaminated with neonicotinoid insecticides, according to preliminary results published earlier this month by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Although neonicotinoids are mostly known for contributing to the decline of pollinator populations, like most pesticides brought to market with approval of an inadequate U.S. regulatory review process, there are considerable uncertainties on its impacts after it is released into the environment. As scientists continue to discover novel harms from the use of these systemic insecticides, advocates say it becomes increasingly important to eliminate their use, and take preventive, precautionary measures to ensure similar patterns do not emerge in the future. MDNR launched its testing project on the state’s deer population in Fall 2019, after a study published by researchers at South Dakota State University found harmful impacts on white-tail deer. The neonicotinoid imidacloprid was found to reduce the body weight and metabolism of white tailed deer and increase the rate of birth defects and mortality in fawns. The state asked deer hunters to send them the spleens they harvested from wild deer. “We wanted to know if wild deer in natural settings are being exposed to neonics and […]

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11
Feb

New Mexico Bill Will Protect Children from Toxic Pesticides Where They Learn and Play

(Santa Fe, New Mexico, February 11, 2021)—New Mexico State Senator Brenda McKenna  introduced the Public Schools Pesticide Management Act (PSPMA) (SB 326) in order to protect school children from exposure to toxic pesticides where they learn and play. The legislation advances ecological pest management, an environmentally healthy way to protect children and the public from weeds and pests, within all schools, classrooms, community parks, and playgrounds in the state. Under PSPMA, only organic and minimum risk pesticides, the least toxic, yet still-effective products on the market will be allowed. Toxic pesticide use will be permitted only under a defined public health emergency, as determined by a public health official. The law does not address the use of pesticides in farming or agriculture.  “All children in New Mexico have the right to a safe environment where they learn and play,” said State Senator Brenda McKenna. “This legislation embraces an environmentally healthy approach to pest management, so families do not have to worry about the use of toxic pesticides in schools and communities.” Pesticide exposure presents unique dangers to children’s health. Children’s developing organ systems are less able to detoxify harmful chemicals, and they often come into closer contact with pesticides than adults in […]

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13
Jan

Ethanol Plant Processing Pesticide Coated Seeds Contaminates Nebraska Town

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2021) An ethanol processing plant located in the small village of Mead, Nebraska has been using seeds coated in bee-toxic chemicals as part of its production process, according to reporting published in The Guardian earlier this week. The plant, owned by a company called AltEn, may be the only plant in the U.S. producing biofuels with toxic seeds. There is a reason for that, and Mead residents are experiencing the adverse effects of EPA not regulating treated seeds. The prevalence of the use of seed coatings in chemical agriculture has increased over the last several decades, as the pesticide industry works to increase product sales by exploiting a loophole in federal pesticide law. Under FIFRA (the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act), a clause known as the “treated article exemption” permits seeds to be coated with highly toxic pesticides without any requirement for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess environmental or public health effects of their use. This allows hazardous pesticides (primarily insecticides and fungicides) to be used indiscriminately with no effective oversight. Research finds that over 150 million acres of farmland are planted with toxic seeds, including nearly four tons of bee-killing neonicotinoids […]

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12
Jan

New York State Bans Glyphosate/Roundup on State Land, While Advocates Push for Organic Land Management

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2021) New York State is set to prohibit on December 31, 2021 the use of glyphosate on all state property after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed bill S6502A/A732b late last year. The state legislature passed the legislation in July, 2020. The move is an important recognition by the nation’s fourth most populous state that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequately protecting people and the environment from hazardous pesticides (pesticide is an umbrella term that includes insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc). However, the law’s ability to improve these protections will depend significantly upon the management approach that replaces glyphosate use.  “A transition away from Roundup and other glyphosate-based pesticides must reject the use of regrettable substitutes, and embrace sound organic principles and practices,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. In pest and weed management, regrettable substitutions occur when one toxic chemical is banned or restricted, and another hazardous pesticide is simply used in its place. The substitution may have a different chemical formulation, mode of action, and set of health and environmental impacts, but nonetheless fills the same role as Roundup/glyphosate when it comes to weed management. When the answer to eliminating glyphosate is to […]

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21
Dec

Stop EPA from Limiting State Pesticide Restrictions as Corporate Deception on Hazards Continues

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2020) The toxic herbicide dicamba is once again at the center of a larger story about states’ authority to regulate pesticides more stringently federal dictates and a response to corporate corruption in the marketing of pesticide products. The Trump EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has just made it much harder for state regulations to be more protective than federal rules. It did so via a footnote embedded in dozens of pages of regulatory documents related to EPA’s registration of three new dicamba products.  Tell the Biden transition team that EPA must respect states’ rights to protect people and property in their states. Meanwhile, a report by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found Monsanto and BASF, a German chemical company that worked with Monsanto to launch the system coupling dicamba with resistant crops, knew their dicamba herbicides would cause large-scale damage to fields across the U.S., but decided to push them on unsuspecting farmers anyway, in a bid to corner the soybean and cotton markets with their dicamba-resistant seeds. For nearly 30 years, state regulators have used Section 24 (“Special Local Needs” section) of FIFRA, the Federal, Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act—the law that gives EPA […]

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15
Dec

Migrant Farmworkers Repeatedly Doused with Toxic Pesticides, Lawsuit Documents

(Beyond Pesticides, December 15, 2020) Over two dozen Texan farmworkers working in Illinois fell ill after toxic pesticides were repeatedly sprayed over them via aircraft, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court this month. As the suit details, indiscriminate pesticide spray brought harm to several minors, elderly workers, and a pregnant mother. Plaintiffs are seeking numerous claims against Pioneer Hi-Bred, a subsidiary of Corteva (formerly DowDupont), as well as the aerial spray company and applicator that contaminated workers. These include violations of federal law and other tort, wage, contract, and damage claims. “No farmworker should be exposed to poisonous chemicals when doing their job, let alone multiple times in two weeks,” said Lisa Palumbo, Director of Legal Aid Chicago’s Immigrants and Workers’ Rights project, which filed the suit alongside several other legal advocacy groups. “Migrant farmworkers are some of our most vulnerable workers, who grow and harvest the food we eat. Their employer is obligated to ensure they are safe from pesticide exposure, and that they are properly cared for and provided truthful information if exposure occurs. This did not happen here.”   Two incidents are detailed in the complaint. With the first, occurring in July 2019, all […]

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07
Oct

Baltimore Becomes Latest Maryland Locality to Restrict Toxic Pesticides on Public and Private Property

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2020) This week the Baltimore, Maryland City Council passed an ordinance restricting the use of toxic pesticides on public and private property—including lawns, playing fields, playgrounds, children’s facility (except school system property [golf courses are exempt]—following an approach similar to legislation first spearheaded by Montgomery County, MD in 2015. While the legislation, 20-0495, An Ordinance Concerning Pesticide Control and Regulation, generally limits inputs to the allowed materials under federal organic law, it provides for allowances for glyphosate by the Department of  Recreation and Parks. If signed by the Mayor, as expected, Baltimore City will become the most recent Maryland jurisdiction to exercise its authority to regulate pesticide use on private property, after a ruling of the state’s highest court. Language in the Baltimore ordinance tracks a similar framework to the Healthy Lawns Act passed in Montgomery County, Maryland. Any pesticide that is not compatible with organic land care—allowed under certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or considered minimum risk by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—is subject to the bill’s restrictions. Use can only occur under limited exceptions, such as to manage particularly invasive species, as well as health or economic threats. Bee-toxic […]

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09
Sep

California Legislature Votes to Ban Highly Hazardous Rodenticides

(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2020) Late last month the California legislature voted to ban, with limited exceptions, the use of highly toxic rat poisons. The California Ecosystems Protection Act of 2020, AB 1788, was passed after over a year of advocacy by groups and individuals concerned about the impact of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGAR) on state and local wildlife. Proponents of the legislation are advocating that lawmakers in other states follow California’s lead by passing similar legislation. The bill must be signed by Governor Gavin Newsom or allow the bill to become a law without his signature by September 30, 2020. The legislation hones in on the use of SGARs, specifically the chemicals brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone, which present significant hazards to non-target wildlife. Unlike the first generation of blood thinning rodenticides on the market (such as chlorophacinone, warfarin, and diphacinone, which present their own hazards), SGARs cannot be quickly excreted by the body and can deal a lethal dose to rodents in a single feeding. However, SGAR-poisoned rodents do not die immediately, and are often left lethargic and exposed to the elements. This makes them easy prey for birds and mammals. In California, SGARs gained considerable attention for […]

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02
Sep

Monarch Massacre: Hundreds of Monarch Butterflies Die After Aerial Mosquito Spraying in North Dakota

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2020) It’s being called the Monarch Massacre—hundreds of monarch butterflies found dead after the Vector Control Department of Cass County, North Dakota aerially sprayed the county for mosquito control. This incident occurred during a moment in history that is seeing monarchs at the edge of extinction, with the number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico having declined 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. This tragedy happened as the nation and the world are experiencing an insect apocalypse and severe biodiversity decline, threatening the web of life. (See Study Predicts Demise of Insects within Decades if Pesticide Dependence Continues.) While it is critical that steps be taken by communities nationwide to protect their local ecology, the incident generated a response from Cass County that claims that the insecticides used are “the lowest toxicity products on the market for mosquito control,” and points to the “monarch migration [that] is a sporadic event that unfortunately occurred during the latest adult mosquito control application.”  The County justifies the spraying because of nuisance mosquitoes and a finding in the “surrounding communities” of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus (WNv). In its Facebook statement, the County […]

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31
Aug

Act by Sept. 3—Help Keep Toxic Herbicides Out of Lake Tahoe, Protect this Treasured and Sacred Ecosystem; Advance Alternatives 

(Beyond Pesticides, August 31, 2020) We don’t need to use toxic weed killers to manage unwanted vegetation in Lake Tahoe, given the havoc they will wreak on a treasured and sacred ecosystem. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board (TRPA/LRWQCB) are accepting comments on a draft environmental impact report/ environmental impact statement (EIR/EIS) analyzing environmental impacts of a proposed Tahoe Keys Lagoons Aquatic Weed Control Methods Test (“Project”). Unless we all speak up, the Project could involve the application of herbicides to Lake Tahoe. The Action Alternative 1: Testing of Non-Herbicidal Methods Only is the environmentally best choice and should be selected for the proposed weed control test program. Protect Lake Tahoe from toxic weed killers—take action by Sept. 3, 11:59 pm. Located on the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is treasured for its scenic and ecological values not just by residents of those states, but by many others. The Washoe Tribe considers the lake to be a sacred life-sustaining water, the center of the world. The lake is designated an “Outstanding National Resource Water” under the Clean Water Act, and is recognized nationally and globally as a natural resource of special significance.  The […]

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28
Aug

EPA Threatens Public Health, Waiving Safety Review of Disinfectants To Be Used by American Airlines and Health Care Facilities; Need Questioned while More Uses Expected

(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2020) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted “emergency” permission to the State of Texas to allow the use of SurfaceWise®2, an unregistered pesticide, as an anti-viral surface coating. The manufacturer, Allied Bioscience, says the compound can kill coronaviruses (including SARS-CoV-2) starting at two hours post application and for up to seven days, but it is not included on EPA’s List N, of disinfectants effective against SARS-CoV-2. EPA has permitted this use via the authority of Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which allows for “emergency” use of non-registered pesticides, typically to deal with extreme threats to agricultural activities. It is rarely used for public health emergencies. Beyond Pesticides recognizes the need for protection from transmission of the novel coronavirus, and maintains that it ought to and can be done without exposing people to toxic synthetic pesticides that have not undergone evaluation for safety. See Beyond Pesticides’ guidance on effective and safe precautions against the novel coronavirus. The Texas Department of Agriculture secured the EPA exemption, making the state the first to do so; Allied BioScience is pursuing this emergency waiver across all 50 states. The exemption grants American Airlines and two health […]

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25
Aug

Maryland Community Opts-In to Healthy Lawns Act, Restricting Toxic Pesticide Use on Public and Private Property

(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2020) The City of Gaithersburg, MD has chosen to opt-in to Montgomery County’s Healthy Lawns Act, restricting toxic pesticide use on public and private property. According to the local Patch, the mayor and City Council voted to adopt the law in mid-August, and it will take effect for all residents and businesses in city on December 1. Although Montgomery County passed the Healthy Lawns Act approximately five years ago, incorporated cities within the county are required to proactively opt-in to the law for it to apply within their jurisdiction. Gaithersburg is the latest, and largest city to opt-in to the county’s law, which encourages organic practices by limiting pesticide use on lawns and landscapes to products that are certified organic or considered minimum risk by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In mid-June, the Town of Garrett Park also opted in to the law, according to reports. Advocates are advocating that all cities within Montgomery County adopt the law. The same group of grassroots advocates that pushed Montgomery County leaders to adopt its Healthy Lawns Act years ago is also leading the push for opt-ins. Safe Grow Montgomery, a group of concerned mothers and fathers working for […]

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19
Aug

Dolphins Stranded Along Eastern Seaboard Are Diseased, Contaminated with Pesticides, Plastics, Disinfectants, and Heavy Metals

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2020) Stranded dolphins and whales along the United States Eastern Seaboard contain herbicides, disinfectants, plastics, and heavy metals, research published in Frontiers of Marine Science finds. The witches brew of toxins is likely contributing to ill health among these ecologically important, intelligent, and charismatic species, and may be playing a role in the occurrence of strandings. “It’s really hard to judge, when an animal strands, if the toxins in the animal were related to why it stranded,” said James Sullivan, PhD, executive director of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Florida, which participated in the study, to UPI. “But these health problems do stack up. The animal is much more susceptible to succumbing to natural disease and environmental problems, just like humans are more likely to get ill from coronavirus if they have underlying conditions.” Dr. Sullivan’s statement rings true across a range of impacts resulting from chemical exposure or other stressors – while an individual may not be killed outright, weakening that occurs after exposure can significantly affect long term fitness in the wild. Eventually, these effects can add up to significant population declines. Unfortunately, this phenomenon in the natural world is often presented as “mysterious” […]

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04
Aug

Massachusetts Enacts New Measures for Mosquito Management with Pros and Cons

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2020) Last month Massachusetts lawmakers finalized, and the Governor subsequently signed, emergency legislation S.2757, aimed at revamping the state’s approach to mosquito management. The final version of this mosquito reform bill continues to include certain problematic provisions, but nonetheless represents a significant shift from an initial proposal that would have allowed the blanket spraying of mosquito adulticides throughout the Commonwealth with little oversight, notification, or transparency. “Though many cooks had a hand in the process, the resulting final bill was strengthened by advocates,” said state Senator Jo Comerford, Chair of the state’s Joint Committee on Public Health, in an emailed statement to supporters. “I’m pleased that we were able to build in strong protections for both the environment and human health.” The original bill was filed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) under emergency legislative provisions, requiring state lawmakers to act within a set period of time. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) had indicated that this year would bring higher risks of mosquito-borne disease, particularly Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), for which outbreaks generally last two or three years. The state saw 12 human cases of EEE and four deaths from the disease in 2019; […]

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31
Jul

New York State Legislature Bans Glyphosate (Roundup) in Public Parks, Bill Goes to Governor for Signature

(Beyond Pesticides, July 31, 2020) On July 22, the New York State Legislature passed Senate 6502 / Assembly 732-B — a bill that would ban the use of all glyphosate-based herbicides on state properties. The bill now awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature, which would make it law effective December 31, 2021. Beyond Pesticides considers this a hopeful development in the glyphosate “saga” and has urged the governor ought to sign it. Nevertheless, such piecemeal, locality-by-locality initiatives represent mere “drops” of protection in an ocean of toxic chemical pesticides to which the U.S. public is exposed. A far more effective, protective solution is the much-needed transition from chemical-intensive agriculture and other kinds of land management to organic systems that do not use toxic pesticides. The bill — titled “An Act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to prohibiting the use of glyphosate on state property” — was introduced in 2019 and sponsored by New York State Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-New York) and State Senator JosĂ© Serrano. It would add a new subdivision to section 12 of the state’s environmental conservation law, proscribing “any state department, agency, public benefit corporation or any pesticide applicator employed thereby as a contractor […]

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26
Jun

Bayer-Monsanto Chalks Up Court Victory that Takes Cancer Warning Off Roundup™-Glyphosate in California, Makes Case for Fundamental Overhaul of Pesticide Law

(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2020) A court decision in California, challenging a cancer warning on products containing the weed killer glyphosate, highlights the distinct  ways in which scientific findings are applied under regulatory standards, in toxic tort cases evaluated by juries, and by consumers in the marketplace. These differences came into focus as a U.S. court quashed California’s decision to require cancer warning labels on glyphosate products on June 22. The ruling, by Judge William Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, bars the state from requiring labeling that warns of potential carcinogenicity on such herbicides. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015 classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. At this point, Monsanto began a worldwide campaign to challenge glyphosate’s cancer classification. The IARC finding spurred the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, in the same year, to announce that glyphosate would be listed as a probable cancer-causing chemical under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). With that announcement came another: the state would mandate that cancer warning labels be applied to glyphosate-based products in the state when any of four […]

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24
Jun

Communities Ban Biosolid (Sewage Sludge) Use As Researchers Investigate Whether It Can Contain Covid-19

(Beyond Pesticides, June 24, 2020) Communities across the U.S. are restricting the use of biosolids (sewage sludge) in their jurisdictions, as researchers at Michigan Tech plan to study whether Covid-19 can persist in wastewater and sewage sludge. While relatively unknown to many city-dwellers, the use of recycled human waste on farm fields is a common practice in many rural communities throughout the country. Issues associated with smell, runoff, and contamination are often the impetus for local leaders to investigate and consider banning their spread, but the potential for the waste to vector coronavirus gives the issue a new sense of urgency.    In Oklahoma, the small town of Luther earlier this month voted to ban the use of biosolids on farmland. The issue was brought to town leaders after a report from FOX 25 found that a local sewer plant was spreading the waste on area farmlands. “Our goal with the biosolids program is to get beneficial reuse rather than just taking it to a landfill and filling up a landfill with this…And [the farmers] get it for free and of course, the farmers line up for this,” Kris Neifing, Director of Water Resources for Edmond, OK, told FOX 25. […]

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05
Jun

Massachusetts Struggles for Safe, Effective Mosquito  Management; Governor’s Arbovirus Proposal Much Improved but Big Questions Remain

(Beyond Pesticides, June 5, 2020) Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts is wrestling with solutions for mosquito-borne illnesses such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV). A coalition consisting of national, state and local nonprofits, with the assistance of 75 legislators, won major amendments to emergency legislation sponsored by Governor Charles Baker, but the coalition seeks further refinements. As originally introduced, Gov. Baker’s bill (H.4650 – see original legislation and amended version) would have given state agencies overly broad authority to eradicate mosquitoes through unlimited pesticide applications, without local input or notification to communities and residents prior to aerial spraying.  It would have suspended all environmental safeguards whenever state officials determine that an elevated risk of arbovirus “may exist” in the future.  In response to input from 75 legislators, the Joint Committee on Public Health made significant improvements to the bill, including– Giving property owners 48-hour notification before a spray event; Providing public notice as to what chemical agents will be sprayed; and Sunset emergency powers within two years, and authorization of a comprehensive stakeholder-driven evaluation of how the Commonwealth deals with mosquito control. “We applaud lawmakers for significantly improving accountability and transparency, but more work is needed,” […]

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04
Jun

The Pesticide Atrazine and 200 Other Toxic Chemicals Found in Fracking Wastewater; Contamination Goes Unregulated

  (Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2020) A new, simultaneous chemical identification method has found the presence of the weed killer atrazine and 200+ other hazardous chemicals in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) wastewater or produced water, according to collaborative research published in the Journal of Separation Science by scientists at the University of Toledo (UToledo) and the University of Texas at Arlington. Although produced water is a waste product of fracking, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows many states to reuse produced water in agriculture and other industries or dispose of it into waterways. There is serious concern about the safety of produced water and it being a widespread source of pollution. Current disposal and purification practices do not guarantee environmental pollutant’s removal from produced water. This research, “Optimization of thin film solid phase microextraction and data deconvolution methods for accurate characterization of organic compounds in produced water,” highlights the need for comprehensive chemical composition assessment of produced water, whether for reuse or disposal. Currently, EPA waives requirements that chemical companies (e.g., Syngenta in the case of atrazine) monitor for the presence of pesticides in waterways, endangering public health of the environment. Because produced water, whether treated or not, is typically not void of toxic […]

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