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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Maryland' Category


Montgomery MD Councilmembers Ask County Hospitals to Ban Landscape Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2015) In a letter sent this week, two Montgomery County Councilmembers are requesting that hospitals in the county assume a leading role in increasing awareness of the health concerns regarding pesticides by voluntarily agreeing to eliminate their use on hospital grounds. The letter states that this step  would help to reduce pesticide exposure for some of the county’s most vulnerable residents, and would increase awareness in the  community of pesticides’  potential harmful effects. Currently, Montgomery County is considering a bill that would limit the non-essential pesticide use on county property. On Monday, Council President George Leventhal, who chairs the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, and Councilmember Roger Berliner, who chairs the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, wrote to the leaders of the five organizations that operate hospitals in Montgomery County and asked them to voluntarily stop using pesticides on the grounds of their respective facilities. The text of the letter can be found here. In Monday’s press releases from the their’ offices,  Councilmembers Leventhal and Berliner said, “We are writing today to ask that hospitals in our County assume a leading role in increasing awareness of the health concerns regarding pesticides by voluntarily […]



Ordinance to Outlaw County-wide Landscape Pesticide Use Introduced in Maryland

(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2014) A landmark ordinance to protect children, pets, wildlife, and the wider environment from the hazards of unnecessary lawn and landscape pesticide use was introduced yesterday in Montgomery County, Maryland by County Council Vice President George Leventhal, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. Bill 52-14 is based upon growing concerns in the community of the health risks associated with exposure to pesticides, and creates a safe space for residents in Montgomery County by prohibiting the use of non-essential land care pesticides on both public and private property. Introduction of this ordinance follows successful lawn pesticide regulations on private and public property in the City of Takoma Park in Montgomery County, and provides equal safeguards for human health and the environment. Similar cosmetic pesticide policies have been in place in Canadian provinces for many years. Unfortunately, most U.S. jurisdictions are unable to enact these same basic safeguards for their citizens.  Maryland is one of seven states that does not prohibit local governments from enacting protections from pesticides that are stricter than state laws. The role of local government in imposing pesticide use requirements is important to the protection of public health and the environment. This […]



Study Finds Majority of “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold at Garden Stores Contaminated with Bee-Killing Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2014) Over half of the “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at garden supply centers such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart have been pre-treated with pesticides shown to harm and kill bees, according to a study released yesterday by Friends of the Earth, Beyond Pesticides and allies. The study, Gardeners Beware 2014, shows that 36 out of 71 (51 percent) of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides — a key contributor to recent bee declines. Some of the flowers contained neonic levels high enough to kill bees outright and concentrations in the flowers’ pollen and nectar are assumed to be comparable. Further, 40% of the positive samples contained two or more neonics. Gardeners Beware 2014 is a larger follow up to a first-of-its-kind pilot study co-released by Friends of the Earth, Beyond Pesticides, and other groups last August. The new study expanded the number of samples and number of locations where plants were purchased, and also assessed the distribution of neonic pesticides between flowers and the rest of the plant. “Our data indicate that many plants sold in nurseries and garden […]



Cosmetic Lawn Pesticide Use Outlawed In Takoma Park, MD, First Local Ban Of Its Type in U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, July 25, 2013) In a sweeping victory for the protection of human health and the environment, the Takoma Park, Maryland  City Council on July 22, 2013  unanimously passed the Safe Grow Act of 2013, which generally restricts the use of cosmetic lawn pesticides on both private and public property throughout the Maryland city. This is the first time that a local jurisdiction of this size has used its authority to restrict pesticide use broadly on private property, exercising it responsibility to protect the health and welfare of its residents through its local government. This landmark legislation stops involuntary poisoning and non-target contamination from pesticide drift and volatility that occurs as these toxic chemicals move off of treated  private yards. The new law fits into the city’s strategic plan to lead community efforts in environmental sustainability, protection and restoration, and secures Takoma Park’s role as a leader in sustainability in the state of Maryland and the nation.  The action in Takoma Park brings to the U.S. an approach to outlawing cosmetic pesticide use on lawns and landscapes that has been in place in Canadian provinces for many years. The role of local government in imposing pesticide use requirements is […]



Hospital Ends Toxic Lawn Pesticide Use and Supports Local Bill To Do the Same

(July 16, 2013 update) On July 15, the Takoma Park City Council unanimously passed the first reading of the Safe Grow Zone ordinance, which could enact important protections for the health of Takoma Park residents and the environment. The ordinance is expected to get a second and final vote at the council’s meeting next Monday. Help us ensure that it passes on July 22! We urge Takoma Park residents to  call or write your Councilmember and tell them you support their efforts to curtail toxic pesticide drift and exposure within the town limits. If you are in the area, please also consider attending the July 22nd meeting to show your support. The meeting will be at 7:30pm Monday at the Takoma Park Community Center, 7500 Maple Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912. See the current agenda here. (Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2013) In a show of support for a local initiative that would restrict the use of cosmetic pesticide use on lawns and gardens within the city limits of Takoma Park, MD, the Washington Adventist Hospital announced that as of June 17, 2013 it will no longer use insecticides or herbicides for its grounds maintenance program. The Safe Grow Zone Ordinance […]



New Report Details Mounting Bee Losses

(Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2013) According to preliminary results of a survey by the Bee Informed Partnership, 31.1 percent of managed honey bee colonies in the U.S. were lost during the 2012/2013 winter.   Though these preliminary loss reports are similar to the past six year average of 30.5 percent, the new loss numbers represent a 42 percent increase compared to the previous winter. Survey participants indicate that they consider a loss rate of 15 percent as “acceptable,” but 70 percent of participants suffered losses greater than this. With continued winter bee losses of over 30%, and concern whether there will be enough bees to pollinate U.S. crops this year, beekeepers and environmentalists say it is imperative  that regulators act by banning the neonicotiniod pesticides that have been implicated in the global decline of honey bee populations. In addition to this national report, several state level incidents of large scale honey bee colony losses have been reported. In a recent incident in Florida, citrus groves experienced an acute foliar poisoning that resulted in severely damaged colonies. Oranges had an early bloom this year, and were still blooming near the end of April. One beekeeper’s colonies suffered immense losses due to […]



Activists File Petition to Stop Pesticide Spraying in D.C.-Area National Park

(Beyond Pesticides, March 15, 2013) A group of Washington D.C. area activist led by Alan Cohen, the president of Safe Lawns for DC Kids and Critters, and Beyond Pesticides delivered a petition to the National Park Service (NPS) that urges officials to stop the seasonal spraying of Rodeo, a glyphosat-based herbicide, to control for fig buttercup in Rock Creek Park in the DC metropolitan area. The group is asking the park to adopt an alternative weed management strategy. According to Mr. Cohen, “We are not saying they should do nothing. We should do something to manage this invasive plant, but it shouldn’t be this treatment with Rodeo.” The activist group gathered over 250 signatures to a petition that asks the park service to stop the spraying of Rodeo by canvassing in the park over several weekends and through their online petition. The group argues that spraying within 25 feet of waterways violates DC’s Pesticide Education and Revisions Act of 2012.  The group says that through this process of petitioning that they want to start a dialog between community members and the NPS on how to best manage fig butter cup. However, NPS has not been responsive to this request. The […]



Toxic Contamination Remains Widespread In the Chesapeake Bay

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2013) A new federal report finds toxic contamination remains widespread in the Chesapeake Bay, with severe impacts in some places, which health and environmental advocates say lends support to their push in Maryland for legislative action on pesticides and other hazardous chemicals. In spite of some cleanup, the health of the Bay has not significantly improved. The report, “Technical Report on Toxic Contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay and its Watershed: Extent and Severity of Occurrence and Potential Biological Effects” is based on a review of integrated water-quality assessment reports from the jurisdictions in the Bay watershed (Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.), Federal and State reports, and articles in scientific journals. It notes that nearly three-fourths of the Bay’s tidal waters are “fully or partially impaired” by toxic chemicals, with people warned to limit fish consumption from certain areas. Contamination is severe in a handful of “hot spots” around the Bay, including Baltimore’s harbor, largely a legacy of past industrial and shipping activity. Previous reports have called on federal, state and local government to accelerate research into what threats chemical contamination may pose to the Bay, and to step up efforts […]



Maryland Continues Pesticide Study Despite Warnings from Environmental Groups

(Beyond Pesticides, May 31, 2012) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have enrolled Maryland households in a study that involves spraying the controversial pesticide bifenthrinon their property to determine the efficacy of this approach in controlling Lyme disease. Now in the beginning of its second year, the study found no evidence in the first year that the spraying works to reduce the transmission of Lyme disease. Beyond Pesticides is concerned that study participants have not been provided complete information about bifenthrin’s potential health risks to people. According to the Baltimore Sun, the study is an effort to find new ways to combat the disease, which infected 1,600 people in Maryland in 2010. Half of the 185 families that have volunteered for the study will have water sprayed on their lawns to serve as a control group, while the other half will receive the bifenthrin treatment. The 185 families that have signed up so far this year get a $25 gift card, lowered from $40 given to the 440 participants last year. Last year, while the pesticide reduced the amount of ticks on treated lawns compared to the control group, […]



Report Puts Potomac River as “Most Endangered,” Highlights Why Clean Water Protections Critical

(Beyond Pesticides, May 16, 2012) With Congress considering drastic cuts to national clean water protections, and rivers nationwide facing threats from natural gas drilling, chemical pollution, and new dams, American Rivers yesterday released its annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. ® It names the Potomac River, known as ”˜the nation’s river’ as it flows through the capital, the most endangered in the country. While the Potomac is cleaner than it used to be, the river is still threatened by urban and agricultural pollution —and it could get much worse if Congress rolls back critical clean water safeguards. As the country commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year, the Potomac is emblematic of what is at stake for rivers nationwide. American Rivers launched a national call to action, giving citizens the opportunity to contact members of Congress and speak up for clean water. The report, “America’s Most Endangered Rivers,” notes that urban development is funneling tons of polluted rainwater to the river, that chemical fertilizer and manure from farms make matters worse, and that wastewater overflowing from sewers, along with pharmaceuticals flushed down toilets, contribute to dead zones in which marine life dies and might cause […]



Maryland Announces Pesticide Drift Database

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2011) The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced a new online tool under development designed to protect sensitive crops from unintended herbicide exposure as a result of pesticide spray drift. Called the Sensitive Crop Locator Database, the tool would enable growers of grapes, tomatoes, tobacco, fruit trees, ornamentals and other specialty vegetable crops to register their crops and field locations with the Maryland Department of Agriculture to let farmers who may be spraying pesticides on nearby fields know where there are sensitive crops. This will hopefully encourage applicators to take steps to minimize potential drift from their applications onto nearby fields. “Controlling pesticide drift is an important issue for pesticide applicators,” said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance. “The innovative Sensitive Crop Locator database will be a valuable tool to help protect sensitive crops from unintended herbicide exposure. We encourage farmers to register their sensitive crops and field locations with MDA to ensure they are included in the voluntary database.” Crop and field location information will be included in the new voluntary statewide Sensitive Crop Locator database to assist pesticide applicators in identifying locations where sensitive crops are grown in order to take extra precautions […]



Limits to Lawn Fetilizers to Protect Chesapeake Bay Passes Maryland House

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2011) The Maryland House of Delegates passed the Fertilizer Use Act of 2011 (HB 573) on March 23 to limit ferilizer use on lawns, while a new report published by Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center finds that turf grass management, not agriculture, is the leading cause of fertilizer-based nitrogen runoff that pollutes the Chesapeake Bay. The report recommends an additional 30 percent reduction in nutrient levels in order to achieve a clean, sustainable Bay. The Maryland legislation would set limits on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen in lawn-fertilizers and prohibit the application of lawn fertilizers within 15 feet of a waterway, when the ground is frozen, or between November 15 and March 1. the Maryland Senate version, SB 487, is now under consideration. Pollution in the Chesapeake Bay – which supports over 3,600 species of plants, fish, and other animals – increases when nutrients wash into its waters from snow and rainfall. And many synthetic lawn fertilizers, including ”˜weed and feed’ products, have an excess of two problematic nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorous. Maryland requires cities and farms to keep a close eye on nutrient runoff in the Chesapeake Bay, but the report, “Urban Fertilizers […]



Report Implicates Pesticides in Chesapeake Bay’s Decline

(Beyond Pesticides, July 31, 2009) A group of advocates and experts is warning that pesticide pollution from farm fields and households is contributing to the Chesapeake Bay’s decline, and may well be linked to declines in frogs across the region and intersex fish seen in the Potomac River. In a report released yesterday, the group calls on federal, state and local government to accelerate research into what threats pesticide contamination may pose to the bay, and to step up efforts to reduce such toxic pollution. “The thing that alarms us the most are the endocrine disruptors and the findings that have come out about intersex fish and frogs with reproductive problems,” said Robert SanGeorge, director of the Pesticides and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Project. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mimic the natural hormones in humans or animals and can disrupt their growth and reproduction. The project is a partnership between the Maryland Pesticides Network and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. The group’s warning and recommendations are the product of a two-year study, in consultation with scientists, public health experts, government officials, watermen, environmentalists, farmers and pest management industries. The report comes as federal and state governments attempt […]



Goats Replace Toxic Pesticides and Mowing Nationwide

(Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2009) Many believe that nature’s best weed control is goats and that is why the Maryland Department of Transportation, town of Heampstead, New York, Google Corporate office campus in Mountain View, California, Mesa, Arizona Utilities Department and City of Cheyenne, Wyoming are putting goats to work this spring. Whether its 5 or 700 goats managing weeds, brush and grasses along highways, on a nature preserve, on a corporate campus or on a water reclamation plant property, goats are doing the work in an environmentally-friendly way. Goats eat unwanted plants, add fertilizer to the area and aerate the soil with their hooves, all at the same time. They show up every day to work, never complain, and they are tireless in performing their job. Maryland Department of Transportation The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) had a major dilemma — how to mow the turf amid the meadows and bogs that protect the threatened Bog Turtle around a major highway bypass in the state. The best solution — use goats as lawn mowers. In late May, SHA enlisted a herd of 40 goats from a local farmer to begin a conservation grazing project on approximately […]



EPA Leading Efforts to Reduce Contamination of Chesapeake Bay

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2009) President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Tuesday creating a Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake Bay to be chaired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The executive order calls for EPA and six other federal agencies to coordinate and expand federal tools and resources to help speed cleanup of the nation’s largest estuary. At the meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Program Executive Council at Mount Vernon, Virginia, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson presented the executive order, which creates the Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake Bay. The Executive Council confirmed at a 2007 meeting that the Bay Program would not meet its commitment to clean up the Bay by 2010 as per the 2000 Chesapeake Bay Agreement. At that meeting, short-term two-year deadlines were set. However, since measures to improve the Bay’s heath have not been successful in the nine years since stakeholders were tasked with its clean-up, it is unclear how these milestones will be met by the two-year deadline in 2011. Chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council, Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine, stated at the 2007 meeting that shorter term goals create the pressure to produce results. Many states are now tasked […]



Maryland Health and Elder Care Facilities Lead Way In Cutting Toxic Chemical Use

(Beyond Pesticides, October 24, 2008) A report to be released October 27 by public health groups and leading Maryland health and elder care facilities documents new practices and policies to eliminate toxic pesticide use. The changes reflect a heightened awareness of the need to protect particularly vulnerable populations from serious health risks associated with toxic chemical exposure. A growing body of scientific research links pesticides to Parkinson’s disease, asthma, cancer and other illnesses. “The Maryland health care institutions in the report are to be commended for showing national leadership in adopting non-toxic pest management techniques that protect the health of patients, visitors and staff,” said Jay Feldman, the report’s co-author and executive director of Beyond Pesticides. The report, “Taking Toxics out of Maryland’s Health Care Sector: Transition to Green Pest Management Practices to Protect Health and the Environment,” was co-written by the Maryland Pesticide Network, a statewide coalition advocating safe pest management practices, and Beyond Pesticides, a national environmental and public health group, under their joint “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Health Care Facilities Project,” and in collaboration with Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. IPM is an approach to pest management […]



USDA Study Finds Weeds Flourish with Climate Change

(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2008) A recent New York Times report on current U.S. Department of Agriculture research shows weeds flourishing from increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Lewis Ziska, PhD, and his team of researchers, have found “noxious” weeds to be more adaptable to changing conditions than crops, predicting further growth of their productivity and range in urban and rural areas. Dr. Ziska’s latest research focuses on weeds uniformly grown at three sites in Maryland: an organic farm in the western side of the state, a park in a Baltimore suburb, and a reclaimed industrial area in Baltimore’s inner harbor. The last was chosen because the city acts as a “heat island,” with temperatures averaging three or four degrees above those outside the city. Dr. Ziska’s team took soil from the organic farm, which already contained seeds from 35 weed species, and transplanted them into identical plots at the three locations, beginning the experiment in 2002. The resulting plants tended to grow much larger closer to the city. Lambs-quarters grew six to eight feet on the farm and ten to 12 feet in Baltimore. Ailanthus grew five feet tall on the farm, compared to one in the […]



Pesticide Poisonings Show Toxicity of Common Pesticides

*July 14, 2008 Update: Officials have reported that the cause for poisoning of these Maryland residents was jimsonweed, not pesticides. Jimsonweed was found in the garden of the home where the stew had been prepared. Symptoms are similar to organophosphate pesticide poisonings. (Source: NBC4) (Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2008) Showing just how toxic common pesticides can be, six people in Gaithersburg, Maryland who ate potentially contaminated stew have been hospitalized with probable pesticide poisoning. Reports say that mint leaves from a backyard garden that were in a potato stew are suspected to have contained organophosphate pesticide residues. Unfortunately, the media is reporting this as a case of failing to wash produce properly, which does not address the root of the pesticide poisoning problem””that pesticides are hazardous and their uses cause harm. In fact, when EPA registers pesticides for use in food production, whether in the garden or commercial agriculture, it does not disclose or warn the public about pesticide residues or require the washing of treated food commodities, and it does not point to the availability of nontoxic alternatives. The Washington Post reports, “In a textbook illustration of the importance of thoroughly washing plants and vegetables before eating them, authorities […]



Fed Launches Organic Lawn Management in Capitol Region

(Beyond Pesticides, June 9, 2008) The General Services Administration (GSA) has begun using organic fertilizer on the grounds of all its federal buildings in the National Capital Region. The region, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, includes the District of Columbia, as well parts of Virginia and Maryland. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), GSA is using 100-percent organic pelletized chicken manure at 64 sites, covering 84 acres. The poultry litter is being collected by a private company and converted to usable organic fertilizer, then transported by truck to the region, and applied at the GSA properties. “Use of organic fertilizer is but one of many sustainable practices that GSA employs in our landscaping program,” commented GSA Regional Administrator Tony Reed. “In this first year of utilizing this approach for all of our buildings in the National Capital Region, we have applied 80 tons, enriching our landscapes at the same time we are helping to clean up Chesapeake Bay.” Chemical fertilizer, pesticides, animal manure, and poultry litter are major sources of excess nitrogen and phosphorus that cause water quality problems in the Chesapeake Bay. These pollutants get washed into local rivers, streams, and groundwater and eventually […]



Chesapeake Bay Continues To Get A Failing Grade

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2007) According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s annual State of the Bay 2007 report, the health of the bay declined this year, and it received a failing “D” grade after dropping one point on the health index to 28 out of a total of 100 points. The aim of attaining 40 points by 2010 and removing the bay from the nation’s dirtiest waters list now seems to be unattainable. The health of the bay has been evaluated every year since 1998, focusing on 13 indicators: oysters, shad, crabs, striped bass (rockfish), underwater grasses, wetlands, forested buffers, resource lands, toxics, water clarity, dissolved oxygen, and phosphorus and nitrogen pollution. Once examined, each indicator is assigned an index score and a letter grade, which when taken together gives an overall rating for the bay. This year phosphorus pollution and water clarity worsened and blue crab populations declined. Blue crab harvests are expected to be the lowest since the 1940s. There were no significant improvements in the other indicators. The bay states: Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, as well as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the mayor of Washington D.C. pledged to reduce pollution in the bay […]



Maryland Farming Subsidies Mitigate Fertilizer Damage

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2007) The state of Maryland, in an effort to stem the extensive pollution of the Chesapeake Bay, has developed a cost-share program that pays farmers to plant winter cover crops, beginning with a pilot program in 1992. Farmers plant a variety of crops, wheat being the most popular, which in turn absorb excess nutrients in the soil and reduce the amount that is washed into the bay. In spring, famers will harvest the cover crops (sometimes with an herbicide) and plant for the regular growing season. According to a 2005 report by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), “Excess nutrients and sediments entering the Chesapeake Bay from urban, agricultural, and forested nonpoint sources [NPS] within the Bay region have been shown to cause degradation of both water quality and living resources.” The report continued by acknowledging, “Excess loading of nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay region has been attributed to runoff and potential nitrate leaching from agricultural practices . . . agriculture has been its most frequent cause.” Cropland in Maryland accounts for 1.7 million acres of 6.3 million total acres in the state. The MDA report states, “As in other agricultural areas nationwide, crop yields are […]