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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'State/Local' Category


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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03
Jun

Face Masks that Contain Toxic Pesticide Distributed in Tennessee for Coronavirus then Recalled

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2020) While wearing a mask is an important practice to help reduce the chance of Covid-19 infection, a mask produced with pesticide-laden material for Tennessee residents has been identified as elevating the virus’ health risks. The state of Tennessee began last week and then stopped this week providing residents with free face masks made from sock fabric incorporated with antimicrobial silver pesticide. The investigative unit of NewsChannel 5 Nashville uncovered that the masks contain a toxic antimicrobial pesticide. Because of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) interpretation of federal pesticide law, textiles and other materials, typically plastics, infused with toxic antimicrobial substances are not evaluated by the agency for the wide range of exposure patterns associated with the use of these toxic products. In addition, the silver product in the sock material, Silvadur 930 Flex, states on its label that over 99% of product ingredients are “other ingredients” and provides no disclosure on their potential hazards. Beyond Pesticides’ board member Warren Porter, PhD, environmental toxicology professor at University of Wisconsin at Madison, in an interview with NewsChannel 5, assessed the situation bluntly. Dr. Porter told reporters over a Zoom interview, “I wouldn’t wear one,” after explaining […]

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19
May

California Proposes “Comparable-to-Organic” Marijuana Certification

(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2020) The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is taking public comments on a proposal to establish statewide comparable-to-organic standards for cannabis production. Although cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, and thus cannot be labeled with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic seal, there is no prohibition on a state-specific program that follows federal organic requirements, but does not use the word “organic.” While such a program has the potential to provide another level of protection for medical patients, questions and concerns remain over the allowance of certain products, and the impact the certifying scheme may have on the future trajectory of the cannabis production industry. Under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation Safety Act, passed in 2017 after the success of Proposition 64 by California voters, state agencies were tasked with establishing a state-level program to certify cannabis to the standards set out by USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). CDFA is required to finalize this program for cannabis production by the start of 2021, while the California Department of Public Health will create a separate program to certify manufactured cannabis products. As outlined by CFDA, cannabis would be certified through third-party […]

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14
May

DDT Metabolite (DDE) and Other Banned Pesticides Found in Blood Sample of African American Women in Detroit

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2020) Four banned organochlorine pesticides (OCP) are present in over 60% of a cohort of reproductive-age, black women in Detroit, according to a study published in Environmental Research by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH). OCPs are lipophilic (fat combining/dissolving), environmentally steadfast chemicals linked to harmful health effects. This study stresses the importance of monitoring pesticide accumulation, particularly regarding environmentally persistent chemicals and their metabolization via indirect exposure routes. Lead author Olivia Orta, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Epidemiology at BUSPH, highlights the significance of water monitoring—especially in light of historically disproportionately high hazards for people of color (e.g., Flint, Michigan)—and testing sources prone to OCP contamination. She remarks, “The sources that we identified as potential OCP correlates should be tested for pesticide contamination,[…] especially drinking water.” Environmental contaminants, like organochlorine pesticides (OCP), can persist in the environment decades after use stops, as OCPs have greater chemical stability and gradual attenuation. Minority populations are at higher exposure risk of environmental contaminants (i.e., pesticide) exposure that can catalyze adverse health and birth effects, especially in metropolitan areas. Although black women endure higher body burdens than other U.S. populations, there remains a lack of research surrounding the association. Boston University researchers enrolled […]

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12
May

California Governor Emphasizes Pesticide Enforcement During Coronavirus Outbreak

(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2020) California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) is issuing new enforcement guidelines intended to protect children and residents from toxic pesticides during the Covid-19 pandemic. With schoolchildren spending their time at home while in quarantine, many, particularly those in agricultural communities, are at increased risk of pesticide exposure. “During this public health crisis, it is important to ensure the strict enforcement and oversight of regulations that protect children from pesticide exposure,” Governor Newsom wrote in a letter to the state Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA). While much of the guidance simply reinforces current legal requirements, it places an emphasis on strict enforcement. County Agricultural Commissioners (CACs), the state’s primary enforcement officers for pesticide laws, must “strictly enforce all applicable health protections around homes and schools” during the pandemic, seven days a week. Further, it stresses that pesticide applications “are expressly prohibited,” when there is, “reasonable possibility of contamination of the bodies or clothing of persons not involved in the application.” The state will prioritize the investigation of any violations made in residential areas. The state will also “take a strict approach to assessing penalties.” Violations of pesticide law that occur near homes or schools during coronavirus quarantine will […]

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08
May

Proposed Legislation To Allow Massachusetts to Blanket State with Mosquito Pesticides that Attack the Immune and Respiratory Systems, During a Pandemic that Attacks the Same Systems

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2020) At the height of Covid-19 impacts in the Northeast U.S., Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito (R) filed emergency legislation at the Boston State House that would, according to their April 16 press release, “help the Commonwealth more effectively combat diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, including arboviruses like Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV), by authorizing a coordinated, proactive, statewide approach to mosquito control activities.” Protecting the public from such diseases is an important public health mission. However, the Governor’s bill, H.4650, represents an alarming “over-reach” that would give unitary authority to the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board (SRMCB) to conduct mosquito control activities, including ineffective and toxic spraying, with virtually no effective oversight or transparency. Beyond Pesticides opposes this bill, whose passage would enable use of pesticides that can have respiratory and immune impacts — increasing health risks for everyone, but especially for the many people already at higher risk from Covid-19, despite the availability of ecological management approaches that eliminate the need for toxic chemicals. H.4650, An Act to mitigate arbovirus in the Commonwealth — was promulgated in response to a Massachusetts Department of Public Health […]

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27
Apr

Tell Your Governor that Lawn Care Pesticides Are Not Essential and Increase Risk of COVID-19

(Beyond Pesticides, April 27, 2020) Federal guidance and orders by most Governors have identified “landscaping” as an essential activity that is permitted in spite of stay at home or shelter in place requirements. Tell Your Governor that Lawn Care Pesticides are Not Essential and Increase Risk of COVID-19. Most states follow some variation of guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security, Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response, in determining which industries are “essential” and can therefore remain in operation. DHS guidance identifies as essential, “Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC Technicians, landscapers, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses and buildings such as hospitals, senior living facilities, any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response.” While some of the services provided by landscapers and exterminators may be necessary to maintaining safety, sanitation, and essential operations, pesticide application for cosmetic lawn care purposes is not. The hazards of pesticides may be amplified during this pandemic. Threats to the immune and respiratory systems posed by pesticides are likely to make those exposed more susceptible to the coronavirus. Governors should designate as essential outdoor maintenance, including vegetation, only when necessary to […]

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21
Apr

California Fish and Game Commission Grants Mountain Lions Temporary Protective Status

P-22 is being treated for mange; blood tests found anti-coagulant rodenticides, commonly known as rat poison. (Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2020) Last week, the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to give mountain lion populations in certain parts of the state temporary protective status, and initiate a year-long study to consider permanent safeguards. Mountain lions in California are under considerable threat from a range of issues, including inbreeding, human developments, and the use of hazardous rodenticides. “There’s an extraordinary urgency for action to preserve this population,” said Commissioner Samantha Murray prior to the unanimous vote, according to the OC Register. According to a study published last year in the journal Ecological Applications, mountain lion populations in Southern California’s Santa Ana and Santa Monica Mountains are at risk of local extinction within 50 years without intervention. Highways and other man-made structures have hemmed in the cougars, resulting in inbreeding that threatens genetic diversity and can result in sterile offspring.  Although specific actions under the new status are not guaranteed, it will force changes within California executive agencies. “For Caltrans, this could include building wildlife crossings over or under existing freeways or as part of freeway expansion projects,” J.P. Rose, staff […]

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24
Mar

Maryland Legislature Passes Limited Ban on Chlorpyrifos Insecticide

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

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19
Mar

As COVID-19 Disrupts Maui Community, Organizers Take Action for Local Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2020) As communities across the U.S. brace for an unimaginable health crisis and difficult economic times in the wake of COVID-19, the Beyond Pesticides Hawai’i team has linked arms with Maui’s small farms and community organizations to make sure local farms have the support they need to feed communities and stay in business. The virus is causing shutdowns of everything from farmers markets to restaurants, but community organizers in Maui are making an effort to transform COVID-19 related challenges into a spring board for long-term increase in locally produced, organic food—a sorely needed commodity in Hawai’i.  Hawai’i is the most isolated island chain on the planet. Its fertile soil and climatic conditions coalesce to make Hawai’i potentially a major producer of nutritious food for its residents and for export. However, a complicated plantation history and off-island investment influence has skewed the economy toward tourism and development. The current stark reality is that 85-90% of Hawai’i’s food is imported, making the islands particularly vulnerable to disasters and global events that might disrupt the economy or infrastructure.  COVID-19 is now disrupting the economy and local infrastructure of Maui. Farmers markets and other public gatherings have closed. Tourism is […]

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10
Mar

As the World Bans Highly Toxic Wood Preservative, Pentachlorophenol, a Low-Income U.S. Community May Be Home to the Last Production Plant

UPDATE: The same day Beyond Pesticides published this piece, Gulbrandsen Chemicals announced it would drop its effort to produce pentachlorophenol in Orangeburg, SC, according to The State newspaper. (Beyond Pesticides, March 10, 2020) Orangeburg, South Carolina may be the last place in the world to produce one of the most toxic pesticides known to humanity, pentachlorphenol. Despite a global ban on “penta” in 2016, in force in 186 countries, the United States has continued to import and use this hazardous wood preservative on telephone poles and railroad ties throughout the country. Now, with Mexico set to close one of the last production plants in the world, Gulbrandsen Chemicals Inc. wants to make Orangeburg, a majority black community with a population three times the U.S. poverty rate, the new epicenter for penta manufacturing. Overview and History Penta is used to pressure treat wood, with the aim of prolonging its use in utility poles and railroad ties. Beyond Pesticides has sounded the alarm on penta and other wood preservatives for over 20 years, starting with the reports Pole Pollution and Poison Poles, which outlined the science on the hazards and and alternatives to preservative-coated utility poles. Penta is a particularly concerning wood […]

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