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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Water' Category


31
Mar

Hazardous Pesticide Breakdown Chemicals Found in Streams Nationwide, Raising Health Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2021) Pesticide breakdown products are just as ubiquitous as their parent compounds in urban streams throughout the United States, according to research conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and published in Environmental Science and Technology. The first of its kind findings place an important spotlight on the long-term impacts of pesticide use on health and the environment. As new analytical methods provide evidence of dangers that were until now unable to be recorded, the data point to the need for a wholescale rethinking of the way pesticide products are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and community-based measures to protect local waterways.   USGS researchers subdivided the U.S. into five regions (Pacific NW, Coastal California, Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast) and took 76 to 100 water samples in small streams for each region over the course of five years. Samples were tested for 108 pesticide active ingredients, and 116 transformation products (also known as breakdown products or metabolites) that arise as active ingredients degrade after a pesticide application.   Of the active ingredients sampled, at least one pesticide was detected in 418 of 442 total stream samples conducted, representing a 95% detection rate. Breakdown products […]

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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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04
Mar

Implications for Human Health: Glyphosate-Related Soil Erosion Re-Releases Toxic Pesticides from Soil

(Beyond Pesticides, March 4, 2021) A new study finds glyphosate use stimulates soil erosion responsible for releasing banned, toxic pesticide chlordecone (Kepone), which was used in banana production. For years, an unknown pollution source continuously contaminated water surrounding islands in the French West Indies (Martinique and Guadeloupe). However, researchers from the University of Savoie Mont Blanc in France have found that chlordecone—extensively used on banana farms from 1972 to 1993—is the contamination culprit. Glyphosate is the most popular herbicide in the world, thus ubiquitous in the environment. Therefore, it is vital to understand the implication glyphosate use has on soil health and the potential re-release of soil-bound, toxic contaminants into the surrounding environment to safeguard human health. Researchers note, “[Chlordecone] fluxes drastically increased when glyphosate use began, leading to widespread ecosystem contamination. As glyphosate is used globally, ecotoxicological risk management strategies should consider how its application affects persistent pesticide storage in soils, transfer dynamics, and widespread contamination.” Conventional pesticide use contaminates soil and their respective Critical Zone (CZ) compartments. These CZ compartments interact between the four main spheres (i.e., hydrosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere) of the Earth to support life. Recent decades demonstrate an increase in soil erosion due to sediment changes […]

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11
Feb

Aggressive Cancer in Sea Lions Linked to Ocean Pollution and Herpesvirus Precursor, Implications for Human Health

(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2021) California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are experiencing high rates of urogenital carcinoma (UGC) cancer incidences from the combined effect of toxic “legacy” pesticides like DDT and the viral infection Otarine herpesvirus-1 (OtHV1), according to a new study published in Frontiers in Marine Science. Previous research documents the role herpesvirus infection, genotype, and organochlorine pesticides play in sea lion cancer development. However, synergism (collaboration) between viral infection and toxic chemical exposure increases cancer development odds. Pollution of the oceans with toxic chemicals lacks adequate regulation, is widespread and only getting worse. More than 80 percent of ocean pollution comes from land-based, anthropological activities. A recent study published in Annals of Public Health finds toxic chemicals from pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, and other sources readily contaminate the ocean, especially near coastal regions where chemical inputs occur in higher concentrations. Globally, pollution has major disease implications, causing the deaths of over nine million people annually. Therefore, it is essential to understand the co-effects of ocean pollution and diseases to protect human health. Authors of the study state, “This study has implications for human health, as virally associated cancer occurs in humans, and likelihood of cancer development could similarly be increased by exposure to environmental […]

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15
Jan

Millions of People Drinking Groundwater with Pesticides or Pesticide Degradates

(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2021) A study of groundwater that feeds public drinking water supply finds pesticides in 41% of supply wells (and a handful of freshwater springs). Two-thirds of that 41% contain pesticide compounds per se, and one-third contain pesticide degradates — compounds resulting from biotic (or abiotic) transformation of pesticides into other compounds. There is considerable ink (digital and actual) covering the health and environmental impacts of pesticide exposures, and reporting on the issue of pesticide migration into groundwater and waterways. Beyond Pesticides maintains that organic practices in land management, and especially in agriculture, are the solution to the contamination of our waterways and groundwater. Such practices, widely adopted, would have enormous salutary effects on human health and the health of ecosystems and their inhabitants. Published in Environmental Science & Technology, the study paper reports this research as the “first systematic assessment of raw [untreated] groundwater used for public drinking supply across the United States to include and provide human-health context for a large number of pesticide degradates.” Samples for the research were gathered across 1,204 sites — at or near the wellheads — in 23 principal aquifers whose groundwater is tapped for drinking water supply used by approximately […]

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07
Jan

Pesticides and Road Salt: A Toxic Mixture for Aquatic Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2021) Insecticides and road salts adversely interact to alter aquatic ecosystems, reducing organism abundance and size, according to a study in the journal Environmental Pollution. Pesticide use is ubiquitous, and contamination in rivers and streams is historically commonplace, containing at least one or more different chemicals. Although road salts can prevent hazardous ice formation during the colder months, the study raises critical issues regarding the adverse interaction between road salts and pervasive environmental pollutants that threaten human, animal, and environmental health and safety. Authors of the study note, “Our results highlight the importance of multiple-stressor research under natural conditions. As human activities continue to imperil freshwater systems, it is vital to move beyond single-stressor experiments that exclude potentially interactive effects of chemical contaminants.” To assess the impact of road salts and insecticides on aquatic communities, researchers created a mesocosm (controlled outdoor experimental area) to examines the natural environment under controlled conditions. These communities include zooplankton, phytoplankton, periphyton, and leopard frog (Rana pipiens) tadpoles. Researchers performed a toxicity evaluation of six insecticides from three chemical classes (neonicotinoids: thiamethoxam, imidacloprid; organophosphates: chlorpyrifos, malathion; pyrethroids: cypermethrin, permethrin). Additionally, researchers note the potentially interactive effects of these insecticides with three concentrations of […]

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06
Jan

Long-Term Roundup Exposure Found to Harm Keystone Wildlife Species

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2021) Long-term exposure to formulated Roundup and glyphosate results in significant harm to wildlife species that form the bottom of aquatic food chains, according to a study published in Microbiome by researchers at University of Birmingham, UK. The water flea Daphnia spp. often functions as a keystone species in lakes and ponds, and because of its ecological importance is frequently used as an indicator species in toxicity tests performed by pesticide regulators. Lead author Luisa Orsini, PhD, notes that most of this testing is flawed by limitations in its scope. “The problem is that much of the evidence is rooted in outdated toxicity tests which only look at the number of animals that die on exposure to extremely high concentrations of these chemicals,” Dr. Orsini said. “These tests also overlook the pathological effects arising from long-term exposure to low doses. What we’re proposing is that toxicity is measured by looking at what happens to the animal at a molecular and fitness level following long-term exposure, which encompasses the entire animal life cycle.” Dr. Orsini and her research team exposed populations of Daphnia magna to the maximum contaminant level (1 mg/L) of both the formulated product Roundup, […]

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27
Oct

Ecosystem-Killer Fipronil More Toxic Than Previously Thought, Found in Waterways Throughout the U.S.

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2020) The insecticide fipronil is more toxic to aquatic insects than previously thought, often present in U.S. waterways, and can trigger trophic cascades that disrupt entire aquatic ecosystems, finds new research published by the U.S. Geological  Survey (USGS). The data have important implications for waterways throughout the country, but particularly in the Southeast U.S. where the chemical was found at hazardous levels in over half of sampled steams. Despite the high quality of the findings by a U.S. government agency, pesticide regulators at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do not adequately consider ecosystem-level effects when determining whether to register a pesticide. As a result, without public pressure on the agency, it is unlikely it will follow the science and take the action necessary to rein in use and safeguard the environment. Fipronil is a systemic pesticide that can travel through plant tissues and be expressed in its pollen, nectar, and dew droplets. Due to its systemic properties and similar toxicity profile, it is often targeted for restriction alongside the notorious neonicotinoid class of insecticides. Although fipronil is equally concerning, there is less data on the range of harm the chemical may cause. To better understand […]

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24
Sep

U.S. Geological Survey Finds Mixtures of Pesticides Are Widespread in U.S. Rivers and Streams

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2020) A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project, reveals the presence of pesticides is widespread in U.S. rivers and streams, with over almost 90 percent of water samples containing at least five or more different pesticides. Pesticide contamination in waterways is historically commonplace as a 1998 USGS analysis revealed pesticides are commonly found in all U.S. waterways, with at least one pesticide detectable. Thousands of tons of pesticides enter rivers and streams around the U.S. from agricultural and nonagricultural sources, which contaminate essential drinking water sources, such as surface water and groundwater. As the number of pesticides in waterways increases, it has detrimental impacts on aquatic ecosystem health, especially as some pesticides work synergistically with others to increase the severity of the effect. Reports like these are a significant tool in determining appropriate regulatory action to protect human, animal, and environmental health. USGS concludes, “Identification of primary contributors to toxicity could aid efforts to improve the quality of rivers and streams to support aquatic life.” Water is the most abundant and important chemical compound on earth, essential to survival and the main component of all living things. Less than three percent of that water […]

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17
Sep

Fashion Killer: Report Finds that the Apparel Industry is a Major Contributor to Biodiversity Loss

(Beyond Pesticides, September 17, 2020) The apparel industry becomes the latest contributor to global biodiversity loss, directly linking soil degradation, natural ecosystems destruction, and environmental pollution with apparel supply chains, according to the report, “Biodiversity: The next frontier in sustainable fashion,” by McKinsey & Company. Although there are many studies on the fashion industry’s impact on climate change, much less research discusses the impact the industry has on biodiversity. The globe is currently going through the Holocene Extinction, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, with one million species of plants and animals at risk of extinction. With the increasing rate of biodiversity loss, advocates say it is essential for government agencies to hold the fashion industry accountable for the direct (i.e., excessive agrochemical use, water consumption) and indirect (i.e., water pollution from run-off) impacts on the environment, not only to protect the well-being of animals, but humans, as well. Researchers in the study note, “We expect biodiversity to become an even greater concern for consumers and investors in the coming years. Covid-19, instead of slowing the trend, has accelerated it—perhaps because people now understand more deeply that human and animal ecosystems are interdependent. It’s time for the apparel industry, which to date has contributed heavily […]

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20
Aug

Arctic Glaciers Entrap Pesticides and Other Environmental Pollutants from Global Drift and Release Hazardous Chemicals as They Melt from Global Warming

(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2020) Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including banned and current-use pesticides are present in snow and ice on top of Arctic glaciers, according to the study, “Atmospheric Deposition of Organochlorine Pesticides and Industrial Compounds to Seasonal Surface Snow at Four Glacier Sites on Svalbard, 2013–2014,” published in Environmental Science & Technology. Past research finds that air contaminated with these environmentally bioaccumulative, toxic chemicals drift toward the poles, becoming entrapped in ice under the accumulating snowfall. As the global climate continues to rise and the climate crisis worsens, studies like this become significant, as glaciers encapsulating these toxic chemicals are melting. Upon melting, some chemicals can volatize back into the atmosphere releasing toxicants into air and aquatic systems, with the ensuing consequences. Although this research demonstrates that specific computer programs can track the trajectory of chemically contaminated air parcels with practical precision, it falls to global leaders to curtail the continued manufacturing of these chemical pollutants. [For related pieces, see Silent Snow: The unimaginable impact of toxic chemical use and DDT in Glacial Melt Puts Alaskan Communities at Risk.] Countless scientists consider Arctic environments to be “pristine,” void of direct chemical inputs from pesticides and other POPs. However, the Arctic has become a sink 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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27
Jul

TAKE ACTION! Tell Evian to Protect the Integrity of Its Purity Claim by Supporting a Worldwide Shift to Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2020) Evian bottled water, produced by the French company Danone, is supposed to be so pure that scientists will calibrate their measuring devices with it. But new data from Swiss researchers finds it to be contaminated with a toxic fungicide. “The fact that even the Evian springs in the French Alps, which are hardly affected by humans, contain pesticide residues is alarming and shows the far too careless handling of these substances,” Roman Wiget, president of the international drinking water association AWBR told the German-language Swiss weekly. The answer is not to simply ban another toxic pesticide, only to be followed by another toxic pesticide, but foundational changes to agriculture and land management with a shift to organic practices.  Tell Evian to protect water quality and the integrity of its purity claim by prominently supporting a worldwide shift to organic agriculture and land management. Danone claims that the purity of Evian bottled water comes from its source in Cachat Spring at the base of the French Alps in the town of Évian-les-Bains, France, where it is “[p]rotected under a fortress of geological layers built by glaciers 30,000 years ago, it slowly travels through natural snowy, glacial […]

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21
Jul

Combined Effects of Pesticide Exposure and Climate Change Significantly Harm Coral Reef Fish

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2020) Climate change and pesticide pollution are known to put coral reef fish at significant risk, but research published in Nature Communications shows how these risks can be both overlapping and synergistic. “Fish face a variety of human-induced stressors including increasing water temperatures and pollution from agricultural pesticides,” says study coauthor William Feeney, PhD from Griffith University. According to researchers, both of these stressors alone harm the endocrine (hormone) system and are subsequently exacerbated in combination with each other. To study the impact of climate change and pesticide pollution, researchers exposed convict surgeon fish (Acanthurus triostegus) to varying levels of water temperature increases, as well as varying levels of the insecticide chlorpyrifos. The scientists then observed how these changes affected the level of hormones the fish were expressing, and how they acted in the presence of predators. “Both a three-degree temperature increase and exposure to pesticide led to a decrease in the amount of thyroid hormones in exposed fish,” said Marc Besson, PhD, lead author, from PSL Research University, Paris. “These hormones control the development of sensory structures such as the retina, the nostrils and the lateral line, which enables fish to detect nearby water movement.” […]

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17
Jul

Unregulated, “Shocking” and Destructive Levels of Pesticide Mixtures Found in Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2020) Researchers have discovered that the rivers and creeks that discharge into the lagoon of the Great Barrier Reef are riddled with mixtures of pesticides. The University of Queensland team expected to find some such mixtures in their sampling, but was shocked to find that 99.8% of their samples contained up to 20 different pesticides. Michael Warne, PhD, lead researcher and associate professor at the University of Queensland’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, says, “The issue with having mixtures of pesticides is that as the number of pesticides increases the impact to aquatic ecosystems generally increases.” Beyond Pesticides has covered waterway pesticide contamination in Europe and the U.S. The organization has long advocated for protective federal regulation that considers potential synergistic and additive threats, to ecosystems and organisms, from admixtures of pesticides — whether in formulated products, or “de facto” in the environment, as this study addresses. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Lagoon is the open water of the Coral sea that lies between the reef and the Queensland, Australia coast. The GBR is the world’s largest coral reef system, comprising more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands, and extending across an area of approximately 133,000 square miles. It […]

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15
Jul

Evian Bottled Water, Touted for Its Purity, Tainted With Toxic Fungicide Pervasive in the Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, July 15, 2020) Evian bottled water is supposed to be so pure that scientists will calibrate their measuring devices with it. But new data from Swiss researchers finds it to be contaminated with a toxic fungicide.  “The fact that even the Evian springs in the French Alps, which are hardly affected by humans, contain pesticide residues is alarming and shows the far too careless handling of these substances,” Roman Wiget, president of the international drinking water association AWBR told the German-language Swiss weekly. Researchers looked specifically at the levels of the fungicide chlorothalonil in Swiss waterways, as Switzerland and the European Union took steps last year to ban use of the pesticide. In banning the chemical, regulators at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) noted, “Great concerns are raised in relation to contamination of groundwater by metabolites of the substance.” EFSA designated the fungicide as a 1B carcinogen, meaning that it “may cause cancer.” Chlorothalonil has been in production and use since the 1960s, but it is only now that regulators are starting to take a closer look at its health and environmental impacts. In addition to cancer, chlorothalonil is neurotoxic, can harm the human reproductive system, damage kidneys, […]

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02
Jul

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Including Pesticides, Have a Multi-Generational Impact on Commercially Beneficial Inland Silverside Fish

(Beyond Pesticides, July 2, 2020) Exposure to low levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly in waterways, including pesticides, can impact future generations of major commercial fish, despite no direct exposure to the chemicals, according to research published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science by Oregon State University (OSU) researchers. Many studies assess the acute or chronic health implications associated with endocrine disruptors on a single generation but lack information on multi-generational impacts that can provide vital information on the fundamental survivability or fitness of many species. This study highlights the significance of understanding the implications of endocrine disruptors, even at low levels of exposure, as parental exposure can have adverse epigenetic consequences for future generations. Kaley Major, a Ph.D. fellow at Oregon State University (OSU) and lead research author, explains, “What t[his] gets at is something your grandparents may have come into contact within their environment can still be affecting the overall structure of your DNA in your life today.” Endocrine disruptors are xenobiotics (i.e., chemical substances like toxic pesticides foreign to an organism or ecosystem). Past research shows exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can adversely impact human, animal—and thus environmental—health, by altering the natural hormones in the body responsible for […]

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15
Jun

Take Action: Tell Congress to Save Our Oceans from Trump’s Executive Order

(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2020)  On May 7, President Trump issued an executive order (EO) purporting to “promote American seafood competitiveness and economic growth,” while, in fact, permitting offshore aquaculture in federal waters with reduced environmental safeguards. Instead, we need stronger federal regulation in order to protect the environment and public health. This EO adds to the Trump Administration’s shameful record of dismantling environmental protections, failing to enforce those that do exist, undermining science, and weighing agrochemical and other industry interests over those of the public and the environment. The EO will further erode regulations that have governed the operation of so-called “fish farms” and open enormous marine areas to exploitation by this industry. Tell Congress to save our oceans. U.S. aquaculture is a $1.5 billion industry, with almost 3,000 operations. Regulation of aquaculture is shared by a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Much of the regulation is at the state and local level because each state and locality may regulate permitting based on zoning, water use, waste discharge, wildlife management, processing, and other aspects of aquaculture operations.  Trump’s EO reduces federal regulation by designating the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as the lead agency in the […]

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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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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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06
May

Trump EPA Waives Requirement to Monitor Waterways for Hazardous Weedkiller

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2020) The Trump Administration announced late last month that it is waiving a requirement that multinational chemical company Syngenta-Chemchina continue to monitor Midwest waterways for the presence of the weedkiller atrazine throughout 2020. While rationalized by the Administration as “due to the unanticipated impact of Covid-19,” the move will instead put residents health at increased risk. Atrazine is one of 78 pesticides that has been linked to the development of respiratory ailments like wheeze. “The public will now have no idea whether dangerous levels of atrazine are reaching rivers and streams throughout the Midwest. That’s absurd and reckless,” said Nathan Donley, PhD a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Syngenta should suspend the sale and use of this extremely toxic pesticide until it can safely ensure it’s not polluting Corn Belt waterways.” Syngenta, which merged with state-owned China Nation Chemical Corporation (Chemchina) in 2016, has been bound by EPA to monitor Midwestern waterways since a 2004 review by the agency. This is because atrazine is a potent groundwater contaminant. Just two years ago, an analysis by the Environmental Working Group found atrazine to be exceeding legal limits in drinking water for many Midwestern states. […]

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18
Mar

Infectious Human Disease, Snail Fever, Worsened by Pesticide Run-Off into Fresh Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2020) Freshwater habitats are threatened now—more than ever—by the adverse effects of pesticide pollution, according to a report published in Scientific Reports by a collaborative research team from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Pesticide pollution, attributed to runoff from agricultural farms, indirectly increased the rate of the tropical disease schistosomiasis, which infects over 280 million people (2018). This research underlines the range of uncertainties that exist as a result of pesticide contamination, making it critically important that subtropical areas where this disease threat exists move toward organic and pesticide-free approaches.  Increased prevalence of this disease is devastating to socioeconomic development in affected regions, as life expectancy, employment rate, and gross domestic product (GDP) decreases. Schistosomiasis (snail fever), or bilharzia, is a tropical disease caused by parasitic flatworms (trematodes) in the genus Schistosoma and transmitted via freshwater snail (genus Biomphalaria) to its definitive human host. Freshwater snails act as a vector for schistosomiasis as they play a vital role in the lifecycle of the parasitic flatworm. Professor Matthias Liess (Ph.D.), Head of the Department of System Ecotoxicology at the UFZ, and his research team investigated pesticide pollution’s […]

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05
Mar

Glyphosate Causes Biodiversity Loss in Freshwater Ecosystems, According to Study

Experimental ponds in Gault Nature Reserve. Photo credit: Vincent Fugère (Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2020) A new study conducted by researchers at McGill University investigated phytoplankton (microscopic algae) response and resilience to Roundup exposure. “Community rescue in experimental phytoplankton communities facing severe herbicide pollution” was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Researchers found that algae can develop resistance to contamination, but surviving phytoplankton communities are much less diverse. Diversity loss is cause for concern as it could hinder adaptation to other potential stressors, such as climate change.  Using experimental ponds, researchers first exposed some phytoplankton communities to low levels of Roundup over time, then dosed the ponds with a lethal amount.  Groups that had been given low doses survived the lethal phase whereas unpolluted, control ponds did not. Researchers observed “community rescue,” where genetic changes avert population collapse in a lethal environment. In fact, glyphosate eventually became a fertilizer in resistant ponds as it is a significant source of phosphorus. Other studies, too, have noted that phosphorous loading is an overlooked impact of glyphosate contamination. Phytoplankton matter because their disruption can cause a trophic cascade and impact other organisms. “These tiny species at the bottom of the food chain play […]

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