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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Virginia' Category


Two New Local Policies Showcase the Good and the Bad of IPM

(Beyond Pesticides, April 23, 2015) Just in time for Earth Day, two localities took action this week to advance their own pesticide policies. The city of Evanston, IL improved upon its  previous IPM policy by announcing a new pilot organic land care program on five city parks, however, Charlottesville, VA put in place an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy which codifies existing efforts by city officials, yet lacks clear and concise efforts to reduce dependency on toxic chemicals. Disappointment in Charlottesville, VA Despite pressure from local advocates, including over 1,000 signatures from community members, the city of Charlottesville, VA merely adopted a pest management policy that  makes official practices that were already in place for the past ten years. Though one could argue that enacting a formal policy is a step in the right direction, the new policy does not address recommendations advanced by local environmentalists, which called for an increase in organic-compatible products while reducing harmful synthetic pesticides. The local advocates, part of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, were pushing for pesticide-free parks and school grounds throughout the city of Charlottesville. According to John Cruickshank, chairman of the local chapter, at the very least, there should be […]



Virginia County Stops Pesticide Spraying in Favor of Alternatives to Combat Lyme Disease

(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2014) After years of struggling to combat the rise of Lyme disease in the region, Loudoun County, Virginia has decided to forgo the spraying of a hazardous pesticide in public parks in favor of public education and continued surveillance of park lands. Controversy over spraying arose back in 2012 when Loudoun began ramping its spray program to manage ticks, often the carrier of the disease. Loudon County used the pesticide Talstar, which contains the active ingredient bifenthrin, a neurotoxic chemical whose use raises public health and product efficacy concerns, as documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Beekeepers expressed concern that spraying would greatly damage their bee colonies, as bifenthrin is highly toxic to bees, while conservationists were concerned with the chemicals leaching into waterways and killing aquatic life. At the same time, some researchers point out that there was no evidence that spraying the chemical would reduce the number of Lyme disease infections. After years of debate and data analysis,  David Goodfriend, M.D., M.P.H, director of the Loudoun County Health Department, said that the county’s Lyme Disease Commission’s recommendation was to not spray any of the properties. The recommendation was based on two […]



Elevated Levels of Glyphosate in U.S. Mothers’ Breast Milk

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2014) – Two citizen groups have taken the initial step toward debunking chemical-industry claims that glyphosate, the world’s most widely-used herbicide, does not bioaccumulate or metabolize in humans. The pilot study, conducted by Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse, looked at ten breast-milk samples and 35 urine samples from across America and 21 drinking water samples. The groups commissioned Microbe Inotech Labs to conduct the analysis, and what they found raises some serious questions about the prevalence and persistence of glyphosate. In breast milk, three of the ten samples tested reveal high levels of glyphosate, meaning that the amount of glyphosate found  is between 76 ug/l to 166 ug/l. The highest glyphosate level detected in a mother is from Florida (166 ug/l) and the other two mothers with “positive” results are from Virginia (76 ug/l) and Oregon (99 ug/l). While these levels fall under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 700 ug/l, across the pond in Europe this range of exposure is 1,000 higher than what is deemed safe. From the 35 urine samples received from across the U.S., 13 samples are above the minimum detectable level. The three […]



Judge Halts GE Crops on Southeastern Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, October 25, 2012) In stark contrast with last week’s decision in the midwest, a federal court ruled in favor of halting cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in all national wildlife refuges in the Southeastern U.S. on Tuesday. The suit, filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Center for Food Safety (CFS), and Beyond Pesticides, is a part of a series of legal actions taken against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (FWS) for entering into cooperative farming agreements for GE crops on wildlife refuge sites without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and refuge management laws. This latest ruling bars FWS from entering into cooperative farming agreements for GE crops on the 128 refuges across eight states, including the 25 refuges currently growing GE crops. The requirement of environmental reviews will likely prevent the planting of crops in 2013 and 2014, and may result in a permanent end to the practice, as native successional grasses reclaim fallow refuge tracts. This ruling is the third in a series of victories against FWS. In March 2009, the same groups won a similar lawsuit against GE plantings on Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. In […]



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 […]



13-year Old Takes to the Web to Just Say “No” to Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2010) A thirteen-year old girl in a Northern Virginia suburb has recently launched her own campaign to urge her neighbors to stop spraying pesticides, and we want you to do the same! With a growing body of scientific evidence proving that pesticides threaten the public’s health by increasing the risk of cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, reproductive problems and more, there is an urgent need for pesticide reform at all levels, and everyone can do their part! The message: “Never fear, it’s not too late to change our ways and go organic! There are millions of ways to keep your yards looking great without using pesticides.” The young girl’s campaign began as a school project that focused on cleaning up her local environment. However, she became increasingly concerned about the amount of lawn chemicals and mosquito sprays that were being used in her community and turned into a full blown effort to reduce toxic pesticide use. As part of this effort, she distributed 200 of Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide Free Lawn Door Hangers in her neighborhood and learned everything she could about the dangers of toxic pesticides and how easy it is go “go organic.” The […]



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 […]



Virginia Legislature Passes Voluntary School Pest Management Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2009) In the waning days of the 2009 legislative session, the Virginia General Assembly unanimously passed a weakened school Integrated Pest Management (IPM) bill that creates a statewide, voluntary school pest management program. While the law will increase public awareness of the antiquated practice of routine pesticide applications at school facilities, it does not mandate a change in practices. The legislation provides information to school districts on IPM that “minimizes the use of pesticides and the risk to human health and the environment associated with pesticide applications.” Beyond Pesticides advocates pesticide use reduction and elimination strategies and only the use of “least-toxic” pesticides as a last resort. Experience shows that school pest management must emphasize pest prevention and management strategies that exclude pests from the school facility through habitat modification, entry way closures, structural repairs, sanitation practices, natural organic management of playing fields and landscapes, other non-chemical, mechanical and biological methods, and the use of the least-toxic pesticides only as a last resort. School is a place where children need a healthy body and a clear head in order to learn. Children are especially sensitive to pesticide exposures as they take in more pesticides relative to […]



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 […]



Children Sprayed at Day Care with Railroad Herbicides

(Beyond Pesticides, July 26, 2007) A company with previous pesticide violations will likely face a significant fine after accidentally spraying children at a day care in Virginia last week with herbicides. Several children were directly sprayed and at least three experienced symptoms of acute pesticide poisoning. The company, NaturChem, was hired by Norfolk Southern to spray a section of railroad tracks, which they do every three years to suppress unwanted plants along the tracks. Sixteen children were playing outside at the day care, adjacent to the tracks as the NaturChem tanker went by. Four children, who were playing along the fence, were directly sprayed. While day care staff took them inside, washed them and changed their clothes immediately, at least three children had acute symptoms following their exposure, including a bloody nose, diarrhea, eye irritation, and blistering. The chemicals’ labels prohibit application methods that result in drift to other property or people, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture, and it is illegal to use pesticides in a manner inconsistent with their labeling. This is NaturChem’s second violation in Virginia, following a $2,000 fine in 2005 for causing property damage in Giles County. The company also reached a $194,200 settlement […]