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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Wood Preservatives' Category


Utility Company Sued Over Pollution from Toxic Wood Poles

(Beyond Pesticides, September 21, 2009) In a federal lawsuit filed in San Francisco earlier this month, the environmental watchdog group Ecological Rights Foundation (ERF) claims that dioxin is being discharged from Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) utility poles into the San Francisco Bay, violating both the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Dioxin is a contaminant in the wood preservative pesticide pentachlorophenol (penta), the chemical used to treat more than one million PG&E utility poles in Northern California. Dioxin is a known human carcinogen. It also causes birth defects at extremely low levels. The ERF suit asks the court to stop PG&E from discharging dioxin from its utility poles, a move that could eventually lead to wide scale replacement of the ubiquitous penta-treated wood poles. “These are the common, I guess you could say ‘classic,’ brown wood poles you see holding up wires on practically every street,” says ERF attorney Bill Verick. Pentachlorophenol (penta) is a chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbon, closely related to other chlorophenols, hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans, all of which are found in commercial grade penta, along with secret “inert” ingredients. It was 1978 when EPA began its review of wood preservatives, including […]



Study Shows Hexavalent Chromium Is Carcinogenic Via Chronic Oral Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, January 5, 2009) According to a new study published December 2008 in the online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, hexavalent chromium (or chromium VI) found in the wood preservatives chromated copper arsenate (CCA) and acid copper chromate (ACC), is a human carcinogen following chronic oral exposure. Previous studies have shown that hexavalent chromium compounds can increase the risk of lung cancer via inhalation exposure. Chromium VI is the notorious chemical that caused cancer in the residents of Hinkley, CA and brought to light by the work of Erin Brockovich. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) conducted 2-year drinking water studies of chromium VI (as sodium dichromate dihydrate) in male and female F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice. Exposure resulted in increased incidences of rare neoplasms of the squamous epithelium that lines the oral cavity (oral mucosa and tongue) in male and female rats, and of the epithelium lining the small intestine in male and female mice. The authors determined that chromium Vi is carcinogenic following administration in drinking water to male and female rats and mice. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) each have […]



Arsenic Exposure Linked to Diabetes

(Beyond Pesticides, September 8, 2008) Inorganic arsenic may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Common sources of inorganic arsenic exposure include dietary exposure, drinking water pollution, and contamination associated with arsenic wood preservatives such as sawdust, smoke, direct contact, and hazardous waste sites. The study found that individuals with diabetes have higher levels of arsenic in the urine compared to individuals without diabetes. Researchers examined randomly selected urine samples taken from 788 U.S. adults 20 years or older that participated in a 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The results were adjusted for diabetes risk factors, including body mass index and for organic arsenic compounds found in seafood. “Our findings suggest that low levels of exposure to inorganic arsenic may play a role in diabetes,” said Ana Navas-Acien, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. “While prospective studies are needed to establish whether this association is causal, these findings add to the existing concerns about the long-term health consequences of low […]



Organochlorine Pesticide Linked to Behavioral Deficit in Infants

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2008) A study published in the May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives shows a link between prenatal exposure to the pesticide DDT and poor attention-related skills in early infancy. This study follows in a long line of recent studies associated with the negative health effects of DDT including: diabetes; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; breast cancer; and autism. Despite the fact that DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972, concentrations of this toxic chemical’s major metabolite, DDE, have remained alarmingly high in many ecosystems, including the waters of Los Angeles County, the arctic, and even U.S. national parks. All studies documenting the health effects of DDT and chemicals in the same family, organochlorines, are particularly important not just for understanding the lingering effects of DDT from days past, but because many countries continue to employ DDT as a method in controlling mosquitoes that transmit malaria, despite its toxicity, weakening efficacy, and availability of safer alternatives. Other organochlorines are still registered for use in the U.S.The study looked at 788 mother-infant pairs who met several criteria, which included living in a town adjacent to a Superfund site in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a location with known organochlorine contamination. Cord blood […]



Call for Public Comments- Tell EPA to Cancel Deadly Wood Preservatives

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2008) On Wednesday 16 April, 2008 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released for public comment its revised risk assessments for three heavy-duty toxic chemical wood preservatives: chromated copper arsenate (CCA), pentachlorophenol (PCP), and creosote. Beyond Pesticides has maintained that the hazards associated with the use, storage and disposal of these three chemicals are unnecessary, given the availability of alternative materials. Let your voice be heard and demand that the EPA protect workers, children and communities from these toxins.Chromated arsenicals, such as (CCA), were widely used to treat decks and patios, picnic tables, playground equipment, walkways/boardwalks, landscaping timbers, and fencing and continue to be used on utility poles and wood treated for industrial purposes. The arsenic in CCA is a known human carcinogen and has been linked to nervous system damage and birth defects. Creosote, a complex mixture of many chemicals, is a restricted use wood preservative used for industrial and marine wood protection. PCP is already banned in several countries due to health or environmental risks under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which the U.S. signed in 2001, but has failed to ratify. PCP is widely used on utility poles and railroad ties. […]



Pesticide Residues Found in European Wines

(Beyond Pesticides, April 3, 2008) Wines on sale in the European Union (EU), including wines made by world famous vineyards, contain residues of a number of pesticides, according to a new report by Pesticide Action Network Europe. The organization tested 40 bottles of wine purchased inside the EU from Australia, Austria, Chile, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal and South Africa, six of which were organic wines. Every bottle of conventional wine included in the analysis was found to contain pesticides, with one bottle containing 10 different pesticides. On average each wine sample contained over four pesticides. The analysis revealed 24 different pesticide contaminants, including five classified as being carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic to the reproductive system or endocrine disrupting. The most widespread pesticide contaminant was pyrimethanil, a possible carcinogen, which was detected in 25 bottles of conventional wine — almost 75% of all conventional samples analyzed. While the majority of wines tested were selected from low cost affordable brands, three of the bottles are world famous Bordeaux wines and more expensive, according to PAN Europe. The discovery of pesticides in samples of wine follows the publication of a report by the French Ministry of Agriculture which identified 15 pesticides as being systematically […]



Timber Company Agrees to Clean Up Dioxin from Wood Preservative

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2008) The Simpson Timber Company, in a settlement with two environmental groups, has agreed to remove tons of sediment laden with cancer-causing dioxin from a contaminated ditch that empties into Humboldt Bay, California’s second largest natural bay.The timber company was sued in 2006 by the two Eureka-based environmental groups, Humboldt Baykeeper and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics (CATs). Tests were conducted, and dioxin was found at levels tens of thousands of times higher than Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, some of the highest levels found in the nation. The test sites were near where Simpson commonly sprayed plywood with the now-widely-banned wood preservative pentachlorophenol in the 1960’s. Further indications that dioxin, which is one of the most potent carcinogens known, had persisted in the environment came last year when the State Water Resources Control Board listed Humboldt Bay as “impaired” after dioxin was found in the tissues of local fish and oysters. Under the settlement, Simpson is required to dig up contaminated sediment in the ditch, which is adjacent to Humboldt Bay’s only public fishing pier, and haul it to a licensed disposal site. The company also must restore the ditch as a functioning wetland and […]



Officials To Monitor Arsenic in Children Living by Former Pesticide Plant

(Beyond Pesticides, November 26, 2007) Minnesota’s Department of Health (MDH) plans to measure arsenic levels in 100 children who live near a former pesticide production site in south Minneapolis. Pesticides containing arsenic, a known human carcinogen, were made and stored at the CMC Heartland site between 1938 and 1963. The pilot project follows the passage of health tracking and biomonitoring legislation and would help to determine whether children in south Minneapolis have elevated levels of arsenic in their bodies. Children who are found to have elevated levels would be advised to seek medical attention. Also, health officials would give families information to help them determine how they might be exposed to arsenic (including the soil, green-treated lumber, foods, dietary supplements and cigarette smoke) and to take steps to reduce the exposure in the future. Health Department staff members aim to begin the project in the summer of 2008 and will present preliminary plans and accept feedback on the proposal at a public meeting at December 6 at 7 p.m. at the Midtown YWCA, 2121 E. Lake St. Health officials have said that the risk from the contaminated soil is low, particularly since much of the contaminated soil is under grass […]



Lawsuits Filed Against Georgia Utility Pole Plant Over Health and Environmental Concerns

(Beyond Pesticides, September 10, 2007) After years of failed political maneuverings, residents in East Point, Georgia have taken legal action case against a local utility pole manufacturer. More than 200 residents near the William C. Meredith Co. on Lawrence Street near downtown have signed onto three lawsuits complaining about noxious odors and dangerous chemicals. The latest, filed in mid-August in Fulton County Superior Court, adds another five dozen plaintiffs to the growing list. The first suit was filed in May. Neighbors to the plant are particularly concerned with creosote and pentachlorophenol, which Meredith uses to treat its utility poles. The two oil-based wood preservatives rank with the most deadly chemicals on the market, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified all of the chemicals, as well as their contaminants, as known or probable carcinogens. Adam Princenthal, the lawyer representing the East Point residents, said the whole dispute is just about homeowners protecting themselves, their children and their homes. “We’d like to have the emissions of toxic chemicals from the site stopped,” Princenthal said. Creosote and pentachlorophenol are absorbed easily through the skin, and children may ingest either chemical if they put their unwashed hands in their mouths after touching […]



Katrina Results in Increased Arsenic Levels

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2007) The effects of Hurricane Katrina are still being felt in the Gulf Coast, a year and a half after it hit. Research shows one of the secondary effects of Katrina is increased arsenic levels, largely due to debris treated with the wood preservative chromated copper arsenate (CCA). The debris, mostly originating from damaged and destroyed residential buildings, total 72 million cubic meters, of which 16% has been estimated to be wood, and all of which must be added to landfills. The resulting risk to groundwater is an estimated 1,740 metric tons of arsenic, much of which has been deposited into unlined landfills. The source of this arsenic is primarily from chemically treated lumber, as chromated copper arsenate (CCA) was once commonly used to pressure-treat wood. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has since banned the use of CCA in residential projects, but many older structures still contain the treated wood. A study, released online in the January 2007 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, led by Helena Solo-Gabriele, Ph.D., of the University of Miami and Brajesh Dubey, Ph.D., of the University of Florida, surveyed debris in New Orleans. Out of 225 pieces of lumber tested in […]